SISTERS — Four Wallowa County beneficiaries were recipients of the Sisters-based Roundhouse Foundation’s more than $1.2 million distributed to over 70 rural nonprofits during its fall grant cycle, according to a press release.

Since 2002, the Roundhouse Foundation has worked with local and regional organizations to support creative problem solving.

Grants during the 2021 Fall Open Cycle were made to organizations across Oregon in four different program focus areas including arts and culture, education, social services and environmental stewardship.

The Wallowa Band Nez Perce Interpretive Center in Wallowa received a $20,000 grant to expand capacity for planning, hosting and improving new and existing place-based tribal youth educational programming and to establish and renew partnerships with reservation-based youth programming.

This grant will build upon the success of the 2021 pilot outdoor education program, the Snake River School tribal youth float trip and establish and renew partnerships with reservation-based youth programming.

The center

Angela Bombaci, executive director of the interpretive center, said Monday, Dec. 6, the youth programming the grant will help support includes youths from the Lapwai, Idaho-based Nez Perce Indian Reservation, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation based near Pendleton and the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation in Northeast Washington where the Wallowa Band is located.

She said the interpretive center in Wallowa serves as a place to put on programs planned by the tribes, as well as programs that take place at other locations such as the Homeland Project outside of town or float trips. Other programs include “traditional skill-building” events such as a meat-cutting camp for tribal youths to learn from their elders the traditional ways to break down game that have always been a source of food for the tribes. Exploration of the tribal areas in the county also are programs the center provides.

The center also serves as a place to educate non-Indians about the tribes.

“It’s a starting point for learning about the Nez Perce people,” she said.

Events stemming from that have included a workshop on drumming presented at Joseph Charter School where students not only learned about tribal drumming, they made drum sticks, Bombaci said.

Getting the grant

She said the grant was no surprise, as the Roundhouse Foundation approached her seeking information on the center’s activities to determine if a grant would be appropriate.

“They were really wonderful. … They reached out to us,” she said. “They said tell us about the work you do and” encouraged her to apply.

That there was a group eager to support the center, was “really exciting,” she said. “They’re more than a group that just wants to write a check.”

Bombaci said the center has a year to spend the grant and report on it, so she doesn’t expect to apply for another grant in the next round of funding in the spring.

However, she said, “We’re certainly hopeful for a long-term relationship with them.”

Also receiving grants were:

• Fishtrap, which received $30,000 to support its year-round programming that includes the Summer Fishtrap Gathering of Writers, The NEA Big Read, Winter Fishtrap, reading events and school residencies that benefit 2,000 readers and writers from across the West and in the rural local community.

• The Josephy Center for Arts and Culture in Joseph received $10,000 to support arts and culture in Wallowa County. The center is a hub of arts and cultural activity, a place of celebration and learning and home to a treasure trove of Nez Perce and Western history. This grant will support arts and culture in Wallowa County.

• Wallowa Resources in Enterprise received $20,000 to support its capacity to lead local shared learning experiences for high school youths from five counties in Northeast Oregon, carry out important restoration monitoring efforts with multiple partners across public and private lands in the area and begin the development of a regional online map that could be used to share successful projects and partnerships relating to the stewardship economy.

The Roundhouse Foundation is a private, family foundation, based in Sisters since 2002. The foundation believes that solutions to the unique challenges of Oregon’s rural communities can be found through creative thinking and problem-solving, innovation and collaboration, the release stated. It partners with community organizations to develop, implement and sustain creative, place-based approaches and programs that strengthen and celebrate rural Oregon.

For more information about the foundation visit or email email

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