The Autry Museum of the American West Wednesday announced it received a $414,101 grant from the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, whose ancestral lands include most of present-day San Bernardino County.

It’s the largest gift the Autry has received from any tribe or Native community, according to W. Richard West Jr., the museum’s president and CEO.

“This grant would be notable enough just given its sheer magnitude,” West said. “What makes the gift truly special is that it is from a California Native community. The generosity of this act bears witness to and makes material the special bond the community holds with the Autry, and the faith of that community in the Autry’s mission of telling the diverse stories of the American West.”

According to museum officials, the grant will support its efforts to achieve Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act compliance for the Southwest Museum of the American Indian Collection, starting with archaeological collections from San Bernardino County.

“The grant will allow for the Autry to implement protocols for gathering, documenting and integrating recommendations and requests from Native communities, and support the development of a website for the Autry’s NAGPRA Program that will be used in conversations and consultations with Native communities,” according to a museum statement.

Through the donation, the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians will also continue its longtime support of Native Voices at the Autry, the country’s only Equity theater company committed exclusively to producing new works by Native American, Alaska Native and First Nations playwrights.

“It is the vision of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians to honor our ancestors, culture and sovereignty for all generations to come. We are proud to continue supporting such a multifaceted organization that works to preserve the past while amplifying the voice of today’s generation through creative expression,” said San Manuel Band of Mission Indians Chairwoman Lynn Valbuena.

“Our partnership with the Autry Museum of the American West will increase indigenous peoples’ access, connections and stewardship of their ancestors and material culture. It is our hope that not only our tribal community, but many others across California, will benefit from the healing and joy that such interactions with our ancestors can bring,” she said.

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