Tuesday, May 15, 2012

You are Invited to the Nation's Signature Event
Commemorating the Homestead Act's
150th Anniversary
Homestead National Monument of America
Sunday, May 20, 2012 

9 am to 5 pm
Homestead Act of 1862 on Display
See the four pages that changed history
Heritage Center lower level
4 pm
President Lincoln's Legacies: A Panel Presentation on the Homestead Act, the Morrill Act and USDA
Homestead Education Center
6 pm to 8 pm
National Commemorative Event
Heritage Center Stage
8 pm to 9 pm
U.S. Air Force Brass in Blue Concert
Heritage Center Stage
9:15 pm to 9:45 pm
150 Years of Homesteading Illuminated Laser Light Show
Heritage Center Giant Screen

Concessions providing sandwiches, popcorn and snow cones will be located at the Heritage Center. Visitors are welcome to bring coolers but they must be less than 14” wide by 14” long by 14” tall.  No alcohol is permitted on Monument grounds or in the buses.  No animals with the exception of service animals will be permitted on the Monument grounds or in the buses.  Seating will be provided at the event.  You are encouraged to bring blankets to spread out on the ground but please leave your lawn chairs at home. For program details click here.

May 21 to 25 Free Land Chautauqua
Daily Youth and Adult Workshops and 7 pm nightly performances
Heritage Center
Program link

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Standing Bear at Chautauqua

The featured Chautauquan on Wednesday, May 23, 2012 will be Taylor Keen portraying Standing Bear, Chief of the Poncas.  As was the case with many Native American tribes of the 1800s, increased settlement in their lands led to disastrous consequences for the Poncas of Northeast and North Central Nebraska.  Eventually forced to relocate to reservation land in Oklahoma Territory, the Poncas faced a great deal of hardship.  Upon the death of his son, whose last wish was to be returned to the Ponca homelands, Standing Bear honored his wishes and took his son home.  On the course of the journey, Standing Bear was apprehended by the U. S. Army and was forced to stand trial.  In this famous case, Standing Bear v. Crook, it was found that “an Indian is a person within the meaning of the law” and Standing Bear was being held illegally.  This case, while not addressing many of the other policies of the action of the Federal government toward Native Americans, was an important first step in establishing basic civil rights for Native Americans.

Taylor Keen is the Managing Partner, Talon Strategy a professional management consulting services company.  He is also a Professor at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska where he is a full time lecturer and Director of the Native American Center.   He graduated from Harvard Business School with a MBA in International Trade and Finance and Harvard University Kennedy School of Government with a MPA in International Trade, Finance and Economics.  He completed the Christian Johnson Fellow, Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development.  He graduated from Dartmouth College with a BA in Education. He also attended Creighton University.  He is the past Councilor of the Cherokee Nation at Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and President, Board of Directors at American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Oklahoma.  He is also the past Councilor of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma

The key themes of the “Free Land” Chautauqua look at the settlement of the American West as impacted by the Homestead Act, Pacific Railway Act, and the Morrill Act.  The Nebraska Humanities Council worked closely with many scholars to identify themes central to this Chautauqua.  They include:

1.       The unfolding of the “free soil, free labor” ideal for America held by Republican policy makers of the time,

2.       The rapid economic development of the West and the nation, especially through the building of railroads;

3.       The accelerated removal of Native Americans,

4.       The opportunities and innovations provided by the population of the West having broader access to a public education, and

5.       The opportunities and potential for social mobility of both emigrants and immigrants that an increasingly landed and educated population had in a developing American West

Come learn and enjoy during this monumental week.  May 20 will kick off the event with an evening of speakers, music, and entertainment.  May 21-25 will have evening Chautauqua performances beginning the night with local entertainment.  During the day there will be workshops for both adults and youth.  May 26, will conclude the week with the Monumental Fiddling Championship with a special free concert by John McCutcheon ending the night.  For more detailed information visit www.nps.gov/home

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Single Greatest Stimulus to the American Economy Ever Enacted

The Homestead Act of 1862 had an immediate and enduring effect upon the United States.  Under this law, more than 270 million acres, approximately 10 percent of the land in the United States, was transferred from the public domain to private individuals.  This great transformation led to profound and lasting changes to the land, American Indians, immigration, industry, and agriculture. 

A homesteader had only to be the head of a household or at least 21 years of age to claim a 160 acre parcel of land. Settlers from all walks of life including newly arrived immigrants, farmers without land of their own from the East, women and African Americans came to meet the challenge of "proving up" and owning their own land. Each homesteader had to live on the land, build a home, and make agriculture improvements for 5 years, in some cases 3, before they were eligible to "prove up".  The cost of filing the paperwork was the only money required, but sacrifice and hard work exacted a different price from the hopeful settlers.

The Homestead Act of 1862 was one of the most revolutionary concepts for distributing public land in American history. The effects of this monumental piece of legislation can be observed throughout America today.  The agricultural and industrial revolutions that shaped our nations identity were the result of millions of acres of land coming under cultivation. The Homestead Act of 1862 contributed to the expansion of the economy of the United States, spurred immigration, advanced transportation and communication networks, and facilitated unprecedented social opportunity and mobility. In 1962, President John F. Kennedy called the Homestead Act the “single greatest stimulus to the American economy ever enacted”.  At the start of the Homesteading Era, the United States was a small agrarian nation, by the end of the Homesteading Era; the United States had emerged as the largest super power in the history of the world. 

Come experience this exceptional history as you journey the Homestead Express!  Partners from Lincoln and Beatrice have teamed up to create a unique experience and commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the signing of the Homestead Act.  Partners include The Sheldon Museum of Art, Pioneers Park Nature Center, The Children’s Museum, The Children’s Zoo, The Nebraska Museum of History, Lincoln City Libraries, the Michael Forsberg Gallery, Main Street Beatrice-Lang Building and Homestead National Monument of America. 

These venues will be issuing game boards that will guide visitors to each site where they will be issued a special stamp.  In addition to the stamps, each partner will have special activities planned, including a train ride, doll making, home building, and much, much more!  When all the stamps have been acquired, bring the completed game board out to Homestead National Monument of America where visitors will receive a commemorative prize.  The Homestead Express is a perfect way for individuals and families to get involved in the commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of the signing of the Homestead Act. Don’t miss your chance to be a part of history.    

Chautauqua Calendar

  • May 20: Meet the Chautauquans 11:00 am Chautauqua Park Beatrice
  • May 20: 150th Anniversary Begins 6:00 pm Homestead