MENOMINEE — An exhibit honoring First Nation art and culture at the Spies Public Library Gallery, opened Monday and will be up through the month of February. Forty seven photos, two dimensional art and craft items made by Native Americans are on display. 

The exhibit comes from the collection of John Helfert, part Cherokee and a working taxidermist. Helfer’s collection includes items made by various tribes in the north east including Menominee and Ojibwa, but also includes wool weaving from the southwest based on style. Among the utilitarian objects are a birch bark basket originally owned by Chief Oshkosh, copper arrow tips from the Old Copper Culture, Oconto, baskets made from porcupine quills, an Ojibwas war bonnet and a Lacrosse stick.

“In the beginning of the 21st century, Michigan 4th graders were required to learn the history of their state. What better place than to start in your own back yard. A few members of the Chappee Rapids Audubon Society asked the Menominee County Historical Society if we could use the land that was donated to the Historical Society by Peter Webber on the Menominee River. Thus the Chappee-Webber Learning Center was born. Denise Taylor taught ecology of the land. Bob Brisson taught the history of the logging era, Bob being a forester for Marinette County for 25 years. Randy Smith shared his knowledge of the fur trade with the Indians and I taught the history and life of the Menominee Indians,” said Helfert. “After fifteen years we have lost two members of the team. As of now the Learning Center is on hold. I still continue to make my presentation to the classrooms in the county as well as Scout troops.”

Helfert will conduct a walking tour of the exhibit at 10 a.m. Saturday.