The Drift is a multi-part installation at the Chachalu Museum created with Travis Stewart and museum staff for Witness, an exhibit on the history of and resilience against colonial museum practices. Witness tells the story of Tamanowas as an observer: of the land, of Tribal displacement and sovereignty, and of repatriation efforts by the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde.
The Drift includes a film made within a virtual reality software program, cultural patrimony on loan from multiple institutions, a VR experience, and souvenirs from regional and national institutions that still possess Tribal belongings.
The film depicts Tamanowas (The Willamette Meteorite) lifting off its base inside the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and traveling westward toward its ancestral home. As the meteorite crosses the country, it visits institutions like the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology (Harvard University) and The Field Museum (Chicago) that have not given back Grand Ronde property. There are hundreds of snapshots saved in photo albums by the Cultural Resources Department that document items scattered across the US. These snapshots were individually scanned and appear within the film as the meteorite passes by their current geographic location, producing a visual archive of displaced possessions.
The film and installation both entitled, The Drift, invokes the story of Tamanowas drifting down the Willamette Valley during glacial floods thousands of years ago. The film, produced in collaboration with 3D environmental artist Matt Krause, contains original 3D-modeled environments as well as assets that can be purchased online, often for video game development. A large-scale abstract glacier in the center of the space is dotted with curio peepholes and resembles the untextured polygonal models used in gaming engines to reduce file size and provide better playback fidelity or realness. In suggesting that an uncontrollable geologic event or unexplained act of nature brings Tribal property home, The Drift visualizes the erasure of bureaucracies that often stand between collection and repatriation.
The Ford Family Foundation generously supported production costs for the film.