MCMINNVILLE, Ore. — In a touching ceremony Friday morning, the Evergreen Aviation Museum returned a small piece of the sacred meteorite 'Tomanowos' to the Grand Ronde tribe.

The piece was accepted by Tribal Council Chairwoman Cheryle A. Kennedy. The event started and ended with drumming.

The so-called 'Willamette Meteorite' first fell to earth in western Canada and was washed into the Willamette Valley during the massive Missoula Floods at the end of the last Ice Age.

It now rests, all 15.5 tons of it, at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

Tribal Council Chairwoman Cheryle A. Kennedy, Tribal Council member Steve Bobb Sr. and Collections Specialist Nick Labonte display the piece of Tomanowos returned to the Tribe by Evergreen Aviation...

The meteor was "discovered" by non natives in 1902 on Oregon Iron and Steel Co., property, sold to a philanthropist who donated it the museum in New York. An agreement with the Grand Ronde and museum allows the meteorite to remain in New York, with annual visits there by tribal members.

The meteorite was revered by the Clackamas, a tribe that eventually was consolidated into the Grand Ronde.

According to the museum "the Clackamas believe that Tomanowos came to the valley as a representative of the Sky People and that a union occurred between the sky, earth, and water when it rested in the ground and collected rainwater in its basins. The rainwater served as a powerful purifying, cleansing, and healing source for the Clackamas and their neighbors. Tribal hunters, seeking power, dipped their arrowheads in the water collected in the Meteorite's crevices."