Sense of Place

A school art/writing exhibit celebrates North & South Dakota’s 125th.

[Editor’s note: this is the 5th in a series of articles leading up to the joint North and South Dakota 125th birthday celebration in Lemmon, SD, and in Hettinger, ND, on Monday, June 16, 2014.]


Photo by Bonnie Smith

They bloom. They charge. They crawl. They fly. They explain. They promote and they initiate reaction.

What are they? They are the over two hundred pieces of school art and writing on special exhibit at the Dakota Buttes Historical Society/Museum (DBHS/M) in southeast Hettinger from June 16 through September 15 of this year as part of North and South Dakota’s entrance into the Union 125 years ago in 1889.

Early this spring with administration approval, local students and teachers began planning how best to create art pieces or writing pieces that would illustrate North and South Dakota’s sense of place in its past, its present and its future.

The results? Prairie roses bloom across the wall. Prairie elevators soar through the Dakota sky. Vistas of wide open horizons, for which North and South Dakota are famous, invite calm, while collages and watercolors of American bison (buffalo) remind us of the days when huge herds roamed freely across this section of the Northern Great Plains.

To remember the past, present and future of the two states, some student art focuses on present day agriculture methods, on careful use of the fragile ecosystem, and on good stewardship. Still others reflect the many hobbies and interests of present people of the plains.

And among it all, caterpillars and butterflies, both prominent on these plains, weave and flutter.

Not only is the joint 125th birthday celebration on June 16 a once-in-a-lifetime event, the students’ art work is a once-in-a-lifetime event for them and for the viewer, as their pieces take people back to early days in the Dakotas, to present events, and to the need to preserve and protect our future.

The Sense of Place school art exhibit, the special sanctioned displays from the State Historical Society of North Dakota, the new displays and the regular collection will be open to the public from 1:00 – 5:00 pm on June 16.

In the middle of the afternoon that day, nationally known author Kathleen Norris, formerly from Lemmon, SD, and author of Dakota: A Spiritual Geography, will be present for a book reading and signing at the Senior Center in Lemmon.

At 5:30 pm MDT on Monday, June 16, the evening’s events at the Mirror Lake Park in Hettinger begin with the free meal, free birthday cake and Hettinger Cowboy Band music. The local patriotic program with the Scout flag entry, Vet recognition, youth singers, and more, is scheduled for 6:30 pm. State and nationally known dignitaries, musicians and performers, such as singer/songwriter Jessie Veeder Scofield, author Kathleen Norris and North Dakota’s folk singer/guitarist Chuck Suchy will then entertain the crowd. Lt. Governors from both states plan to attend.

Two days before, on Saturday, June 14, the Adams County Library (ACL) in Hettinger along with the DBHS/M hosts a book discussion of Norris’s book at the Dakota Buttes Museum in southeast Hettinger beginning at 2:00 pm. Humanities scholar Margaret Barnhart from Dickinson State University will lead the discussion. Those attending that discussion may pick up a complimentary copy of Norris’s book at the ACL. Contact the library or the museum for further information.

The June 16 celebrations in Lemmon, SD, and in Hettinger, ND, the only sanctioned joint events for the 125th anniversaries of both states, are co-sponsored by the ND and SD Humanities Councils, the ND and SD State 125th Official Committees and the local committees.

The Dakota Buttes Visitors Council is the local sponsor of the Hettinger events. For further information, check community bulletin boards, TV access channels and radio ads, call the Hettinger Chamber office (701-567-2513) or go to the 125th birthday event links on Hettinger Chamber web site.

It will be a set of events to remember, shared with friends and family under the Dakota skies. – BMS