Living History comes to Fort TottenMore than 600 area seventh-grade students will learn about frontier military life, boarding school trades and American Indian culture during the 18th annual Living History Field Day on Monday at the Fort Totten State Historic Site near Devils Lake.
By: Herald Staff Report, Grand Forks Herald
More than 600 area seventh-grade students will learn about frontier military life, boarding school trades and American Indian culture during the 18th annual Living History Field Day on Monday at the Fort Totten State Historic Site near Devils Lake.
As part of Living History Field Day, history demonstrations are scheduled from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Students can visit more than 20 stations of living history demonstrations, activities and exhibits throughout the day.
The site will be open to the public from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday with free admission. The fort was built between 1867 and 1873 as a military outpost. For most of its history, from 1891 to 1959, it was an Indian boarding and community school.
Living History Field Day is coordinated by the Fort Totten State Historic Site Foundation and the State Historical Society of North Dakota, which manages the site. The program is open to schools that have pre-registered. Openings for students remain. To register, call the Fort Totten State Historic Site at (701) 766-4441 and ask for Jessie or Jack. There is a $2 materials fee per student. Students will receive a study packet to further their study in the classroom.
Demonstrations during the day:
- Brain tanning by Sheila Sears.
- American Indian bead working by Terri Black Lance.
- Traveling seamstress and hand-cranked sewing machine by Roberta Keller.
- Cannon and Gatling gun and/or military arms demonstrations by Chuck Keller.
- Social dancing and recreation by Miki Noltimier.
- A teacher in a one-room school by Betty Soper.
- Frontier soldier by Steven Reidburn and commanding officer Major Marcus Reno by Jim Acker.
- Cowboy poet by Dale Nystrom.
- Hired servant by Rita Acker; officer’s wife by Karen Nelson; and laundresses by Barbara Miller.
- Old-time games by Suzannah Miller.
- Officer’s striker and post bugler by Gary Miller.
- American Indian culture and cooking by Patty Christianson.
- Butter churning by Novina West; a spinning demonstration by Marilyn Kruger; blacksmithing by Kerwin Lund; a washing machine demonstration by Doris Griffin; nurse by JoAnn Putman; and striker at the Commanding Officer’s Quarters and flag raising and lowering ceremonies by Vance Nelson.
From noon to 1 p.m., guest performer will be Keith Bear, whose Indian name is O’Mashi Ryu Ta, meaning “Northern Lights,” is a Mandan-Hidatsa storyteller and musician from the Three Affiliated Tribes in Fort Berthold, N.D. He is an educator who works with students of all ages in school programs and residencies.
Visitors will also see several special and permanent exhibits at the site, including History of Fort Totten, a walking window interpretive exhibit using photographs and text to tell the history of Fort Totten during its use as a military installation and boarding school. Also featured is Land in Her Own Name, stories and photographs of women who homesteaded in North Dakota, as researched by North Dakota State University sociologist Elaine Lindgren.
The exhibits at the Interpretive Center show Fort Totten’s military history, school history, and the State Historical Society’s efforts to preserve the buildings.
Living History Field Day is sponsored by the Devils Lake Kiwanis, the Devils Lake Rotary Club, the Arts Council of the Lake Region, Western State Bank, Altru Clinic Lake Region, Ottertail Power Company, The Devils Lake Journal, N.D. Telephone Company, the Fort Totten State Historic Site Foundation, the State Historical Society of North Dakota, and the Devils Lake Chamber of Commerce.