The Native American-themed mural alongside the Ace Hardware building on Broadway is getting a restoration. Seaside’s Public Works Department removed the 16 aluminum panels for restoration by the Clatsop-Nehalem Confederated Tribes.

Earlier this year a car crashed into the mural, creating a gaping hole, Richard Basch, vice chairman of the tribes, said. Other panels need general restoration after oxidation weakening the aluminum.

“We’ve heard from so many people in the community what a big part of the community the mural has become,” Basch said. “People use it for history lessons. They’ve said, ‘You’ve got to replace it. You’ve got to put it back up.’ We’re hoping to get enough support to be able to put it back up.”

The tribe will need to raise about $20,000 for the restoration.

The 60-foot mural, by artist Roger Cooke of Sandy, was dedicated in September 2006, mounted on the north exterior wall of what was then the Holladay Drug Store at the corner of Broadway and Holladay.

Cooke worked from a studio on the Sandy River where he produced paintings, bronzes, illustrations, murals and portraits. His murals are on display in cities and towns across the country. He died in 2012.

“He worked with tribes along the Columbia watershed, Nez Perce, Umatilla,” Basch said. “He took an interest in studying the tribes along the Columbia watershed.”

Cooke depicts scenes of the daily life of the Clatsop and Nehalem tribes at the Seaside estuary with Tillamook Head in the background. The mural brings to life historic tribal members such as Tostum, Chief of the Clatsop Tribe in the early 1800s and Chief Tostow, the Clatsop chief among those to sign treaties — never ratified by the U.S. Congress — with the government in September 1851.

“The Clatsop tribe was between Columbia River to Tillamook Head up to Saddle Mountain,” Basch said.

In the treaty, which was never ratified by Congress, the Clatsops, Tillamooks and Chinooks ceded their land — and lost their land, Basch said. “That’s why Clatsops are known as a ‘terminated tribe’ and don’t have any treaty rights. Because the treaty was not signed, we were driven out of our homeland.”

The Clatsop tribe scattered.

“We went north, south, east, we went wherever we could to find some kind of a living, some kind of a job,” Basch said. “Currently our membership is primarily in a circle that includes Tillamook, Portland, Vancouver. That was the intent of the government in not signing.”

Remaining members now form the Clatsop-Nehalem Confederated Tribes of Oregon.

On the left of the mural are elders of the tribe. Among vignettes are a man carving a canoe and children playing on the beach.

A young woman on the left side of the mural is our daughter Charlotte, who was 16 at the time, Basch said.

“Cooke wanted to have a young tribal member looking forward,” Basch said. “He wanted to represent our ancestors, the ones who are important to keep our history alive, and he also wanted a young person. I thought that was a very interesting, positive thing he thought of, he wasn’t just an artist but a historian, a sociologist. He really took an interest in studying the culture of tribes along the Columbia River watershed.”

The restoration process will start with finding a muralist who can restore both the panel and the art.

In 2020, the North Coast Land Conservancy announced the transfer of 18 acres of Neawanna Point Habitat Preserve to the Clatsop-Nehalem Confederated Tribes. It is the first property the tribes have owned since they began to be displaced 200 years ago and lost their land.

“That’s the only land we’ve owned since 1851,” he said. “That’s the first piece of land we’ve owned since treaty time.”

A welcome pole at the site will be carved by Guy Capoeman, now chairman of the Quinault Indian Nation. In 2016, Capoeman designed the sculpture along the bank of Ecola Creek in Cannon Beach at the edge of Ne Cus’ Park. The logs for the new welcome pole at the habitat preserve, along with one to be sited at the entrance to Seaside High School, were donated by Weyerhaeuser and sit by the highway roadside waiting for carving.

“We are taking it step by step,” Basch said. “We’re pulling together a plan. The first step is to bring water to the property. With the mural and other projects, the welcoming poles and community involvement, we have to be strategic about what we put on our plate.”

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