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New Year Brings New Plan to Preserve Oregon History

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PHOTO: The saddle of famous Nez Perce cowboy Jackson Sundown in his 1916 Pendleton Roundup win is part of Oregon's rich western heritage. It's still on display and in mint condition, and a new Oregon Heritage Plan aims to ensure other rare artifacts also are preserved. Photo by W.S. Bowman, 1916.
PHOTO: The saddle of famous Nez Perce cowboy Jackson Sundown in his 1916 Pendleton Roundup win is part of Oregon's rich western heritage. It's still on display and in mint condition, and a new Oregon Heritage Plan aims to ensure other rare artifacts also are preserved. Photo by W.S. Bowman, 1916.
December 30, 2013

SALEM, Ore. - Oregonians have until mid-January to comment on a new Oregon Heritage Plan that sets many of the state's historic preservation priorities for the next five years.

No one would argue that Oregon is rich in history, but the median annual budget for the small museums around the state is less than that of a typical lower-income household, and many depend heavily on volunteers just to keep the doors open. According to Kyle Jansson, coordinator, Oregon Heritage Commission, more training for these caretakers is an important goal of the plan.

"The idea with these collections is that they're going to be around forever. So, our goal is to have people in communities knowledgeable about how to take care of paper, artifacts and everything else related to heritage," Jansson said.

Another goal is to promote the significance of the collections and explain what it takes to preserve them. Jansson said often, even the people who live in a community are unaware of its history, from famous residents of the past to what's in their local museums. The plan includes economic development goals for communities that can tap into their historic roots to boost tourism.

Jansson pointed out that history in Oregon is everywhere - from highways that used to be wagon trails, to food from century-old farms - but everyday life moves too fast for some people to notice.

"Unless we're able to get that into a message that key community leaders hear and that the public hears, the value of heritage is going to get lost in all the noise that we hear, day in and day out," he warned.

In many school districts, social studies and state history are now minor parts of the curriculum, he added, so another part of the Oregon Heritage Plan is reaching out to teachers to see what they need to incorporate history into other subjects.

The state is full of fascinating items from a colorful past - and more than 1,000 nonprofit groups around the state make that possible, he said.

"The Oregon Historical Society has a horse saddle that was used by Jackson Sundown during the Pendleton Roundup. It's a beautiful saddle and it's in great condition, a century after it was made - but that hasn't been by accident," Jansson said.

The draft Oregon Heritage Plan can be viewed on the Oregon Heritage Commission website, www.oregon.gov, and comments are being taken through Jan. 15.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR