The Scandinavian Heritage Center celebrates the heritage and culture of five Scandinavian countries – Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. Located in a peaceful park setting next to the Minot Visitor Center, the site honors immigrant ancestors who settled in the area. The centerpiece is a full-sized replica of the Gol Stave Church built in the early thirteenth century and now located at the Norwegian Cultural Heritage Site in Oslo, Norway. The intricate construction reflects rich symbolism traditional to Norwegian stave churches.
Unfortunately the church was not open when we visited but we met a young local couple who were married in the church four years ago. They return each year on their anniversary for photographs.
Other structures in the park include a Danish windmill, a grass-roofed stabbur (storehouse), a colorful, 30-foot tall Swedish Dala horse, and a 230-year-old log house from Sigdal, Norway. Sculptures represent a famed ski jumper, a Norwegian skier, Leif Eirikssen and Danish author Hans Christian Andersen. A walkway winds through the neatly landscaped grounds, and pass a pond, waterfall, Plaza Scandinavia (granite map) and Eternal Flame.
We tramped through the old cemetery at Fort Buford State Historic Site (southwest of Williston, North Dakota) today for a look back in Western history. Fort Buford is probably best remember as the site where Sitting Bull surrendered in 1881, bringing an end to the Sioux Indian Wars.
An active military fort from 1866-1895, Buford had hospital facilities. However, it’s interesting to note that the majority of deaths were not due to enemy warfare but disease (brain “abcess”, Bright’s Disease, mumps, acute gastritis, pneumonia, typhoid fever, consumption) or mis-spent life style (murdered, drowned, killed by road agents, inebriation, shot by accident, poisoned, suicide).
Non-military “citizens” and Indians were also laid to rest. For instance, “HE THAT KILLS HIS ENEMIES SCOUT” died of wounds. Today only eight burials remain. The military burials were moved to Little Bighorn Battlefield National Cemetery, Montana, in 1896.
The markers we see today were restored in 1980 by the Fort Buford 6th Infantry Association. Through their efforts we have a better understanding of life – and death – on the Western frontier.
Last night after dinner we meandered around Dickinson to get a feel for the tidy town in the midst of the Bakken oil boom. Outside the Ukrainian Cultural Institute I noticed a sign offering fresh Cheese Buttons on Wednesdays. What are Cheese Buttons? We guessed, maybe something to do with cheese curds. Later while reading local brochures I saw another reference to Cheese Buttons. My curiosity clicked into gear.
This morning while at the Dickinson Visitors Center I inquired about Cheese buttons, only to find out they are what we know as pierogi. Still curious and since it was Wednesday, we made a stop at the UCI to purchase Cheese Buttonns before leaving town. After sampling, I chose those filled with sauerkraut over the potato or cottage cheese, $6/dozen.
The Czechs call them “vareniki”
The Germans call them “kase knoeph”
The Polish call them “pirogi”
The Ukrainians call them “Varenyky or pyrohy”
The Americans call them “Cheese Buttons or Dumplings”
Now we know, they have nothing to do with cheese curds and indeed sometimes no cheese at all is involved. We’ve been enlightened and have partaken of the local speciality – Cheese Buttons. If you’re ever in Dickinson on a Wednesday stop at the Ukrainian Cultural Institute and try them for yourself.
When You Go: Ukrainian Cultural Institute, 1221 W. Villard, Dickinson, North Dakota, 701-483-1486, http://ucitoday.org
Theodore Roosevelt Nt. Park – Medora, North Dakota
Appropriately Theodore Roosevelt’s first North Dakota cabin rests beneath cottonwoods in the National Park bearing his name. Roosevelt first came to the region in 1883 to bag a bison; before returning to New York he acquired interests in the Maltese Cross Ranch on the banks of the Little Missouri River. Two ranch managers were hired and instructed to build a cabin. Our park guide relates that the cabin initially was a single room with a dirt floor. By the following summer three separate rooms were finished with wood floors, an additional 1/2 story provided a sleeping loft for the ranch hands, root cellar and shingled roof. Locals considered the enhanced construction as nearly a mansion.
Several of Roosevelt’s own belongings are included in the Maltese Cross Cabin period furnishings. In the bedroom a leather trunk marked with “TR” on the lid was the one he used when traveling to and from North Dakota, an elaborate hunting outfit costing $1,000. packed inside. A white hutch original to the cabin served as both bookcase and writing desk. Roosevelt spent much time recording impressions of his time in the hills at the writing desk from his second ranch, the Ellkhorn. His favorite piece of furniture was a rocking chair – believing, “What true American does not enjoy a rocking-chair?”
The cabin has quite a traveling history of it’s own. During Roosevelt’s presidency it was exhibited at the World’s Fair in St. Louis and at the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition in Portland, Oregon. The state fair grounds in Fargo and the state capitol grounds in Bismarck also hosted the Maltese Cross Cabin. In 1959 it was loaded onto a flatbed truck for a trip to Medora and the Theodore Roosevelt National Park just seven miles from its original location.
When You Go: The Maltese Cross Cabin is located near the Visitor’s Center of the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Medora, North Dakota. Ranger guided tours of the cabin given daily during the summer. More information at http://www.nps.gov/thro/index.htm.