The Homestead National Monument of America is opening a new exhibit on Friday called the Winter Festival of Prairie Cultures. Park Ranger Susan Cook says the exhibit represents various cultures who settled on the prairie because of the Homestead Act of 1862, and well as Native Americans.
“The Pawnee Indian Village gave us a picture they had of what’s called the First Christmas for Native Americans,” Cook says. “Then we have Swedish pioneers, we represent what they were doing during the Depression for a tree.” There will also be a display of a winter barrel.
“Families from the East or Europe would send barrels of supplies to the homesteaders out here on the Great Plains and they would come in the winter,” Cook says. “You might find a musical instrument, you might find cloth material was used for packing, dried fruits, nuts, sugar, flour, so you didn’t have to make it yourself.”
On Sunday at 2 PM, a program will be offered at the monument’s education center by a retired educator and genealogist entitled, “A Czech Immigration Story.” The presenter’s grandparents and great-grandparents came to the U.S. from Bohemia and homesteaded in Nebraska.
The Homestead National Monument will be closed on Thanksgiving, but visitors can still use the trail system and park in the lots at the Education and Heritage Centers.
Cook says the 25-cent pieces are already in production at the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia and they’ll soon be made in Denver, as well.
“The governor got to choose which national park in his state got chosen and he chose Homestead National Monument,” Cook says. “You’ve probably seen all of the different designs and then the mint chose. We’ve been diligently working on this debut — it’s a big deal.”
February 10th is the launch date for the new quarter. Events are in the planning stages.
By Doug Kennedy, KWBE, Beatrice