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Museum, Buffalo Jump see high attendance amid pandemic


Last updated 7/14/2020 at 12:01pm

The H. Earl Clack Memorial Museum Board heard Monday about surprisingly high attendance that the museum and Wahkpa Chu’gn Buffalo Jump have seen since the baord’s last meeting.

Judy Jones, a volunteer who has been working at Wahkpa Chu’gn, said she has received more than $500 in donations from people she and her colleagues have given tours to.

She said there have been so many requests that they haven’t been able to accommodate nearly all of them.

“I’m kinda wearing down,” she said.

Jones suggested trying to get more people for tours and establishing more defined hours for the Buffalo Jump’s operation.

“I would do 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., because the more the summer comes on the hotter the afternoons are going to be,” she said.

Jones also said the booklets about the jump she has been using are a big hit and suggested that the board look into printing booklets to sell to people at the buffalo jump.

“I know I could have sold some of those on the tours I was giving,” she said.

Jones said she received inquiries especially from younger attendees about a website and she said this might be a good opportunity for the board.

“The younger people that’s what they do, they go to websites and they make appointments,” she said.

Jones said she’s seen tremendous enthusiasm among the attendees and thinks there is more opportunity for the board to capitalize on that enthusiasm.

“This is what’s making money, and I know you could make more. I don’t know how, but I know you can,” she said.

H. Earl and Margaret Turner Clack Memorial Museum Foundation President Elaine Morse asked about the possibility of moving resources to get the Buffalo Jump working on a seven-days-a-week schedule and closing the museum.

“Would we be better off to close the museum and run the buffalo jump from 9-1 and make some money?” she asked.

There was some confusion about the legality of transferring funds between the museum and buffalo jump and it was determined that they consult with Board Member Val Hickman who was not there at the meeting.

Museum Manager Emily Mayer said there has been unexpectedly high attendance since the museum opened on June 23.

“We’ve had 45, 50 people since we opened, which was pretty good,” she said, “It was more than what I thought it would be.”

Mayer said sanitization efforts have been going well, but the museum is in need of new masks, and she said she’s asked board Chair Lela Patera, who was absent from the meeting, about getting more.

She stressed the importance of the museum’s policy of having guests sign in with contact information, which she said, she takes very seriously.

“I tell them if you don’t fill out the form, you’re not coming in the museum,” she said. “Because if something happens and someone gets sick and we get a call from the Hill County Health Department we’re going to need to call those people and we’re going to need that information.”

Despite the turnout, she said she anticipates things will be difficult for some time.

“I think it’s going fairly good all things considered,” she said, “It’s just gonna be a tough year.”

Mayer said she thinks the board should consider creating virtual tours as a possibility for the website mentioned by Jones and that she’s seen them succeed in other museums she follows.

“You can still do the tours,” she said, “It’s COVID safe and it could be 40 degrees below zero and you can still do the tour.”

Morse said the foundation received $1,100 in donations to the memory of Foundation Board Member and former Superintendent at the Northern Agricultural Research Center Gregg Carlson.

She said the board discussed putting up a plaque at the new museum in his honor.

Morse said she received a comment about the proposal to have the teepee, planned to be set up at the buffalo jump, emblazoned with a sheaf of wheat to honor Carlson’s achievements in agriculture.

She said she received a comment urging them not to do that because Native Americans were not farmers.

“Wheat had a lot of importance to Gregg but was probably not appropriate,” she said.

Board Member David Sageser provided an update on his efforts to extend the wifi from the museum to the Wahkpa Chu’gn interpretive center.

He said he was planning to put work into the project last Friday, but a tornado between Malta and Dodson caused significant damage to the area which took priority.

The board also named Kathy Shrauger and Judy Dritshulas to the Nominating Committee to make recommendations for officer positions.


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