Grand Ronde Tribes of Oregon

On the 16th of May 2001, I had the honor of participating in the first Tomanowas ceremony in over one hundred and fifty years. Tomanowas, commonly known as the Willamette meteorite, is now on display at the Museum of Natural History in New York City. The staff and board members quite graciously closed the museum so that the spiritual renewal of the People could take place.

Tribal Council Member, June Sherer, poses beside Tomanowas, the Willamette meteorite, in place at Museum of Natural History in New York City.  

One of the spiritual advisors of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde researched with friends, mentors and fellows concerning the Ceremony and how it should be conducted. With help and spiritual guidance, he built a new tradition. The Ceremony began with the placing of "gates" at each of the cardinal points of the compass. Cedar and sage smoke were used to purify the area within the circle. A prayer and a song were offered to the Creator. Then the gates were opened to allow Good Spirits to join us.

Tribal members view meteorite prior to ceremony  

We each "washed" ourselves in the smoke, proceeded through the western gate and were escorted clockwise around Tomanowas. A quantity of water from a spring on our Grand Ronde reservation was poured into the pockets of the meteorite and we each offered our personal prayers. The air, meteorite and ourselves were washed with the smoke from the cedar bark and sage.

View of symbols to be used in purification ceremony  

Following the Ceremony we sat in a Council Circle and spoke of things that were of importance and the honor we shared in the rekindling of the ancient tradition.

The conclusion was a final prayer to the Creator. Two of our tribal veterans collected the water from Tomanowas to be returned to Oregon and the Grand Ronde Tribe for spiritual and ceremonial use.

A sincere thank you goes to the Board of the American Museum of Natural History.

See the previous article on Tomanowas

Michael Sherer