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Hiebert works to keep history alive

Helped organize moccasin exhibit at museum

Staff writer

Keven Hiebert has spent years scouring antique stores and auctions, looking to preserve pieces of American history.

“It’s a treasure hunt, really,” said Hiebert, of rural Goessel.

He and business partner John Torline, of Newton, collect American Indian artifacts in an effort to keep the stories behind the items from disappearing.

Part of their collections, and items from other private collectors and museums, are on display at Kauffman Museum in Newton. The exhibit is “Pathways of Tradition: Native American Footwear, 1860-1930.”

The exhibit includes about 80 artifacts from tribes across the U.S. and Canada. Hiebert and Torline each loaned 15-20 pairs of moccasins to the museum.

They had been brainstorming with museum director Rachel Pannabecker for two years or more.

Hiebert said fellow collector Bob Seise summed up his attitude about artifacts best.

“He said, ‘None of us are the owners of this; we’re the custodians’.”

Many of the artifacts that have survived were mostly used for ceremonies and special education, because day-to-day items were used until they wore out, Hiebert said.

Hiebert and Torline met at auctions where they were bidding on the same items. They decided to collaborate instead of compete, and have been business partners for about 20 years.

“Pathways of Tradition” will be at Bethel College’s Kauffman Museum in Newton until Jan. 25, 2009. A celebration will be held on the exhibit’s closing day, with Hiebert and Torline evaluating American Indian items. There also may be traditional American Indian food served, Hiebert said.

The museum is open 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 1:30-4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission is $4 for adults, $2 for children ages 6-16, and free for children under 6.

Last modified Dec. 17, 2008

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