[meteorite-list] Willamette Withdrawn from Butterfields' Auction
From: MacovichCo_at_aol.com <MacovichCo_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu Apr 22 09:42:02 2004
As a result of the requests I received from Oregon's Confederated Tribes of
the Grand Ronde and the American Museum of Natural History, I have withdrawn
the 96 gram partial slice of Willamette from tomorrow's (Sunday, January
21st) "Butterfields Natural History Auction."
I regret any disappointment that the withdrawal of the specimen may have
created for those of you who were interested in this offering. While I'm not
at all certain what the future holds as it regards this--or other
specimens--of Willamette, I promise to keep the list apprised of developments.
This specimen can still be seen at:
In the event that this link does not work, you can go to the Macovich
Collection home page:
In light of the current circumstance, I thought it might be interesting to
re-post an article on the Willamette meteorite that appeared in the
Washington Post on June 23rd, 2000.
The Washington Post
June 23, 2000, Friday, Final Edition
LENGTH: 694 words
HEADLINE: Oregon Tribe Snags a Piece of the Rock; With Spiritual Claim
Recognized, Revered Meteorite to Stay in N.Y. Museum
BYLINE: Lynne Duke , Washington Post Staff Writer
DATELINE: NEW YORK, June 22
The legal battle over ownership of the nation's largest and most important
meteorite ended today when the American Museum of Natural History and
Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde agreed to combine science and
spiritualism by keeping the meteorite here in New York but also respecting
tribe's ancestral claim to the stone.
The agreement on the Willamette meteorite is part of a raft of settlements
being negotiated between Native Americans and museums all over the country
the 1990 Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. What makes
case different, though, is that experts cannot recall a case in which a
American group has laid claim to a celestial artifact--certainly not one so
famous and so prominent as the 15 1/2-ton Willamette meteorite that
believe provides a chemical road map of stellar history.
The meteorite had a different kind of significance to the Grand Ronde, a
collection of 22 tribes and bands. For them, it is called "Tomanowos," a
spirit that has looked after them since the beginning of time.
The science says the meteorite crashed in western Oregon's Willamette
thousands of years ago. The Clackamas, a Grand Ronde tribe, say their people
have lived in that valley for 8,000 years. Clackamas songs and dances of
still tell of hunters dipping their arrowheads in the meteorite's
basins for extra power and of maladies healed from those same waters.
The Grand Ronde is a relatively obscure tribal grouping that once was
"terminated" under U.S. law. Its collaboration with the museum gives new
legitimacy to its long trail back from near-obliteration, said Kathryn
chair of the Grand Ronde Tribal Council.
"This is another milestone for us, for our people," she said. It is "the
greatest undertaking our tribe has done next to the restoration and
of our people."
Though the tribes did not succeed in gaining ownership of the meteorite, as
they originally had sought, the 4,500-member Grand Ronde did succeed in
a platform for their beliefs.
Along with a plaque bearing astronomical descriptions of the meteorite's
origins, the museum has also installed one describing the importance of the
meteorite in the cosmology of the Grand Ronde. Under today's agreement, the
Grand Ronde also are allowed exclusive annual access to the meteorite for the
purpose of tribal rituals and worship. And the museum said it will establish
internship program for Native American youth, in which Grand Rondes will be
"The museum is pleased to recognize the Grand Ronde's important and deeply
meaningful relationship with the Willamette meteorite," said Ellen V. Futter,
president of the museum. "We see our agreement as the beginning of a
collaboration that will lead to a better understanding of cultural and
scientific perspectives on the world."
The museum has owned the meteorite since 1906, when it was purchased from
Oregon Iron and Steel Co. It is about the size of a car and is the largest
meteorite ever found in this country.
Scientists believe it is the iron-nickel core of a planet that was
in a space collision billions of years ago. After orbiting the sun for eons
crashing over and over into other planetary fragments, the meteorite was
into a collision course with earth, traveling about 40,000 mph by the time it
hit what is known today as Oregon.
Because iron meteorites are relatively rare and telegraph a tremendously
complex process of nuclear fusion of the kind that shatters stars far more
gigantic than the sun, the study of the Willamette meteorite has provided a
treasure trove of knowledge about the universe.
The claim that the Grand Ronde group made on the meteorite was the latest
a long series of actions that have put the small tribe back on the map after
literally being wiped off it. The tribal group was a trustee of the
until 1954, when Congress terminated that tribal status and severed the Grand
Ronde's relationship with the federal government. Congress restored the
trust in 1983.
Received on Sat 20 Jan 2001 11:52:44 PM PST