In Touch with Prairie Living
By Michael M. Miller
The Germans from Russia Heritage Collection at the NDSU Libraries
in Fargo reaches out to prairie families and former Dakotans. In
various ways, it affirms the heritage of the Germans from Russia
is an important part of the northern plains culture.
German-Russian barns and dwellings today
This spring, a video crew from Prairie Public Television will
be videotaping examples of early German-Russian houses, barns and
other dwellings in North Dakota for inclusion in a documentary which
PPTV is producing on the Germans from Russia. The documentary is
expected to air on PPTV in the winter of 1999. If you know of any
such existing structure, which is still standing, please contact
Bob Dambach at Prairie Public Television at 1-800-359-6900 and share
with him the location.
Work begins on production of major Germans from Russia television
Ron Vossler, documentary scriptwriter and instructor at the University
of North Dakota and Bob Dambach, producer at PPTV shared these comments:
"The documentary will explore, if not answer, the questions of:
1) Who are these people called Germans from Russia? 2) Why did they
first immigrate to South Russia? 3) Why did they leave not one,
but two homelands, and immigrate to the North American prairies?
4) What happened to those Germans who stayed behind? 5) How did
this group assimilate into the prairie landscape? 6) What are the
folk, religious and cultural traditions of the German-Russians today?
7) How does an ethnic group continue their heritage in a new land?
8) How does an ethnic group pass down their heritage to a new generation?"
Bob Dambach stated, "We plan to produce an hour long program on
the Germans from Russia that will document the history and vibrant
cultural heritage of this group." Included will be outstanding video
footage from the former German villages in southern Ukraine. Part
of Prairie Public's mission is to explore and celebrate the heritage
of the people of the prairie region. We at Prairie Public are excited
to be a partner with the NDSU Libraries in a project that will share
the rich culture and heritage of the Germans from Russia, who were
critical to the settlement of North Dakota." Dambach said that the
project will reach the people of North Dakota, the prairie region
and North America.
This documentary is a major financial undertaking of Prairie Public
Broadcasting and the NDSU Libraries. Many people have responded,
but we would appreciate additional support to produce educational
materials to enhance the forthcoming documentary. If you are interested
to learn more about the documentary, please contact Bob Dambach
or Michael Miller.
North Dakota Picnic in Mesa
Close to 3,000 people attended the North Dakota Picnic at Pioneer
Park in Mesa, Arizona. The next annual picnic will be on Sunday,
March 7, 1999. We were pleased to see many North Dakotans who shared
their memories about growing up on Dakota soil. Assisting at the
NDSU Libraries information tables were tour members who will join
the Journey to the Homeland Tour to Odessa, Ukraine and Stuttgart,
Germany from May 26 to June 8, 1998. We continue to be impressed
with the interest expressed by visitors about their ancestral heritage.
North Dakota includes a community of various ancestral roots. There
were many attending the picnic who grew up in German-Russian communities.
One can sometimes identify his or her hometown area by Goebel, Iszler,
Maier, Schwartz, Mitzel, Haman, Flegel, Bosch, Dosch, Keller or
Doll. It was a pleasure to join North Dakotans at this special day
As stated in a feature article in The Forum, Fargo, ND,
March 8, 1998: "After the picnic grounds are cleared and North Dakota
accents no longer linger in Pioneer Park, children at Anne Carlsen
Center for Children in Jamestown, ND, see the benefits. Residents
attending the picnic are asked to pay $1 with proceeds benefitting
the Center for Children."
Information about the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection
For further information about the collection, the television documentary,
the Journey to the Homeland Tour to Odessa, Ukraine in May, 1999
and German-Russian heritage, contact Michael M. Miller, NDSU Libraries,
PO Box 5599, Fargo, ND 58105-5599 (Tel: 701-231-8416; E-mail: Michael.Miller@ndsu.edu;
GRHC website: http://library.ndsu.edu/grhc).