From Char-Koosta News 

ST. IGNATIUS — Months after the devasting fire that destroyed the People’s Center, aka Sqélix?/Aqlsmaknik Center, in which many irreplaceable and priceless cultural artifacts were lost, CSKT Council approved on Tuesday the name-change to “Three Chief's Culture Center and Gift Shop.” Staff had been working on rebranding the center prior to the fire and were compelled to push the name change as the center moved to a new location.

The new name reflects the three chiefs of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes - Chief Koostatah, Chief Charlo and Chief Alexander – and represents the Kootenai, Salish and Pend O’reille tribes. Staff worked with the cultures committees and elders to approve a name. Pend d’Oreille Tribal Elder Stephen Smallsalmon and frequent People’s Center visitor gave it a thumbs up. Kootenai Culture Committee Director Vernon Finley gave verbal support, saying it was time to change the name and move forward.

People’s Center staff had been ruminating on rebranding and a name change for months. Rebranding is the process of changing the corporate image of an organization and is a market strategy of giving a new name, symbol, or change in design for an already existing brand. For about a year or so, people would mistakenly contact the People’s Center, believing it was a different business with the same or similar name. An online search for “The People’s Center” or “People’s Center” will result in other institutions ranging from a medical marijuana needs business in Wisconsin, family services in Missouri, clinics and telehealth center in Minnesota, and even a visitor-family center in Tacoma. The problem became daily, despite online resources and a Facebook page that explained the mission of the center.

The idea of rebranding came after staff learned about it at American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association Conferences.

September 2020’s arson fire pushed staff to accelerate their plans for rebranding after moving to the former Aviator Restaurant in the Allard Stage Stop complex in St. Ignatius. After Tuesday’s unanimous approval from Tribal Council to change the name, Three Chief’s Culture Center and Gift Shop staff will embark on creating a strategic plan to redesign their goal, image and vision. A new logo will use the pictures of the three chiefs that hang in the Council chambers

The Three Chief’s Culture Center and Gift Shop is owned and operated by The Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes. The center was a dream brought forth to create a place to share the stories, histories and lifeways of the Bitterroot Salish, Pend d’Oreille and Kootenai tribes. It was a place where tribal and non-tribal people can come to learn through museum exhibits, presentations and engage in cultural activities, and buy authentic Native-made products from the gift shop. The center housed and cared for tribal artifacts in a small repository.

Staff includes Marie Torosian, Director, Loushie Charlo, Gift Shop Manager, Geraldine Hewankorn, Curation Technician, and Aggie Incashola, Education Director.

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