Scandinavian Traditions

Produced by Prairie Public Television, Fargo, North Dakota, 2002, 60 minutes


Uff da! Ya. Did you hear? Prairie Public Television has produced a documentary about the cultures of Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, and Denmark showing how those cultures are thriving today in our area communities. Producer Kim Stenehjem traveled the region to interview artisans, folk singers, dance troupes, hardanger fiddlers and just regular folks who are avidly involved in their Scandinavian heritage. The result is a colorful and heartwarming documentary that exemplifies the art, handcrafts, music, storytelling, food traditions and people of the Scandinavian culture.

In the late 1800s, one out of every six adults living in Scandinavian countries emigrated to North America, Stenehjem said. It's not difficult to find their descendants in this area. Many are actively carrying on the traditions of their homeland celebrating Syttende Mai and August the 2nd, sending their children to language camps. And they are quite willing to share nostalgia and childhood memories. Participants in the production contributed family movies from private collections, family photographs, diaries, and immigration records.

Stenehjem and the Prairie Public film crew also went on location to gather footage from museums, art galleries, community celebrations, and heritage centers. The profusion of material collected is spilling over onto Prairie Publics Web site (at, which will provide supplementary resources and educational materials to accompany the television production. This organization feels a responsibility to act as one of the regions cultural and educational institutions, Stenehjem said.

Scandinavian Traditions is a lot of fun, but its also an important record of our heritage that deserves to be preserved.

Scandinavian Traditions feature performances by folk musician Ross Sutter, the mother and daughter duet of Mary and Kaia Klockeman, hardanger fiddle composer Dan Trueman, and the Scandinavian dance band Foot-Note of Decorah, Iowa.

Scandinavian Traditions will be distributed to public television stations across the United States and will air on Twin Cities Public Television on December 5 and December 11. Previous Prairie Public Television heritage documentaries have been well-received internationally. For instance, The Germans From Russia: Children of the Steppe, Children of the Prairie premiered on Prairie Public Television in 1999, and has since aired on 70 public broadcasting stations in 26 states and four Canadian provinces. It won the top prize for historical documentaries at the 1999 Telly Awards and a bronze plaque award in humanities at the Columbus 47th Annual International Film and Video Festival.

Prairie Public Broadcasting, headquartered in Fargo, is a non-profit organization and community licensee that provides public television services throughout North Dakota, northwestern Minnesota, southern Manitoba, and parts of Montana and South Dakota, and public radio service to North Dakota. In addition to broadcasting services, Prairie Public Broadcasting provides a wide range of educational and technological services to communities and individuals across its coverage area.

Scandinavian Traditions

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