Monday, August 4, 2014

Please help identify this pouch!

Does anyone know anything about this type of pouch?

This leather pouch has been in my family a long time, but we're not sure how long. It was most likely passed down from my great-great aunt Emma (Kittle) Mielke. She lived in Kenmare, North Dakota in the early 1900s and also in Paynesville, Minnesota. To me, the pouch looks Native American in design. It's about 7-3/4 inches from the top to the bottom (not counting the pom-pom type thing at the bottom). It appears to be made of 6 separate panels. It could be about 100 years old or even older. I really have no idea.

I'm hoping someone out there might now more about it. I'm just wondering what the design is called. Was it a tobacco pouch? A coin purse? Is the pattern a known motif? Was this typical of a certain Native American group or region? If you know, please let me know, too!
Both front and back have the same bead-work design.

Here's a close-up of the side panels. I'm not sure what kind of beads those are.

Here's how it opens up.

Some more detail - the rope/string is very soft. Not sure what it's made of.
Thanks for looking! I'm sure someone out there knows way more about this kind of thing than I do.

Fort Abercrombie, North Dakota - Author & Artist Expo

I was one of the authors at the Author & Artist Expo at Fort Abercrombie in Abercrombie, ND over the weekend. It's a well-run historical site and museum in a beautiful setting along the twisting and turning Red River. They give tours of the area via golf-cart, which is a nice way to see and learn about the expansive grounds. The fort played a role in the Dakota Uprising of 1862 - under siege for 6 weeks.

There were two other authors, and a handful of crafters - quilters, leather and wood-workers, photographers, etc. There was also a black smith on-site.

The Blacksmith!

Barb Nicholson, a well-known quilter from Kindred, ND, was there with her beautiful quilts and dolls. One of her quilts was even used as a prop in the show Scandal, appearing briefly in the second episode!

Here's me with Barb
Author Candace Simar was also there. One of her books, The Abercrombie Trail, takes place right at the fort! She gave an excellent talk on Sunday. It was great to meet her, and her books are all highly recommended, especially if you enjoy historical fiction.

Candace Simar
The drive was long from Savage to Abercrombie, but I'm glad I went. As always, it's great to meet new readers, authors, artists, and special thanks to site supervisor Lenny Kroeger and his wife Mary!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

June 10/11 Ox Cart Angel talks - Moorhead, Barnesville and Breckenridge, Minnesota

On June 10th, I gave a talk at the Hjemkomst Center in Moorhead, Minnesota. It's a very cool museum, and if you're in Moorhead, I highly recommend checking it out. This talk was especially nice, because they had a full-size Red River Cart replica nearby. I found out right after the talk, that one of the men who built it in the 1980s was there in the audience. His name is Eddie Gudmundsun - a World War II vet - and here he is, standing in front of the cart:


The cart is part of an Antoine Gingras exhibit they are having from June through July.

The next day, I had two talks. One at the Barnesville Public Library, and one at the Breckenridge Public Library. In Barnesville, I had a late breakfast at the Eagle Cafe. It was a cool place - it had formerly been a bowling alley, so the cafe was llloooooonnnnnggggggg.... They had a funky display of whisks and egg beaters hanging on chicken wire. It was one of those small town cafes where the food is so darn tasty:



At the Barnesville library, I did my talk in a room in the back, and it happened to have a mural of charcoal on paper that had just been done by an artist named Steve Stark. He does a presentation where he tells stories while drawing scenes from them on a 30-ft roll of paper. Here's a small part of the one in the library:


I had a nice time at the Breckenridge library, too. I saw some spectacular displays of lightening afterward on the way out of town.

Of course on my journeys north on I-94 (and back) I always have to stop at the Clearwater Travel Plaza. I mean, who can resist this stuff?


I recommend the Cappuccino Chip Muffins.

May 6th, Jamestown, North Dakota Ox Cart Angel talk

I gave a talk in Jamestown, North Dakota to the James River Genealogy Club at the Post House on May 6th. I always love stopping in Jamestown whenever I head out west. I like to see the giant buffalo statue and walk through the old west town they have set up.

On the way there, I saw this giant statue of a prairie chicken in Rothsay - in fact, it's billed as the World's Largest Booming Prairie Chicken. Take that, world's second largest booming prairie chicken! Don't worry - it wasn't actually impaled by the U.S. flag:



Here's the Post House - so named because it used to house a post office. I gave the talk in the dining room, which still contains the old post office boxes. It was a nice setting:


As always, the people I meet at my book/history talks are wonderful. Chatting with them is a highlight for me. One person I mention in my Ox Cart Angel talks is a guy named Orlin Ostby, who recreated the trek via Red River cart from Pembina to St. Paul in 2008. Orlin had helped Delmar Hagen prepare for his trip in 1958 - Minnesota's centennial - and had promised that he would do the trip in fifty years. Which he did. At my talk in Jamestown, there was a guy in the audience named Tommy Thronsedt who not only knew Orlin, but had also gone along on the trip with him. It was great to get his insight!

Here's Tommy, who was kind enough to pose with a copy of my book:


On the way back home, I stopped in Rothsay again and ate at Ole & Lena's Pizzeria.  Here's what I had. Can't remember the name of it - perhaps I shall name it 'heart attack on a plate' - but it was delicious!


Anyway, it was a great trip!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Fun Week! Winona, Rochester, Alexandria and Hastings.

Despite the cold and awful winter weather, I had a fun week touring parts of Minnesota and giving talks about my book and the Red River trails. A week ago on Wednesday, I started out giving a talk at the Winona Historical Society - they have quite a nice new building - and from there went to the Olmsted County History Center in Rochester to give a talk. Reports were coming in of bad weather for the next day, but the drive home that evening went fine (although for some reason the door to my car's gas cap became stuck shut, so I had to pry it open with a screwdriver).

Thursday, I drove up to Alexandria's Runestone Museum to give two talks - one to a group of about 50 eighth and ninth graders, and then one to a group of adults. The weather was still okay, but had started to snow by the time I was leaving. I'd heard reports of school already closing for the next day in parts farther south in Minnesota. The drive out of Alexandria started fine, but about halfway home, things started getting a little hairy, and speeds on the highway slowed from 70 to 50 to 40 to 30...by the time I was near home, most (sensible) people were driving at about 20 mph. Still, only three miles from home, I skidded out of control and ended up on the side of the rode perpendicular to the highway. Luckily I didn't hit anyone or get hit, and all was fine. Well, except I had to be pulled back onto the highway by a tow truck, since my wheels didn't want to do anything but spin.

Friday here in Savage was a snow day. I stayed home, too, with my kids, and we held down the fort.

Sunday it was on to Hastings where I gave a talk at the Le Duc Estate - a beautiful old house. It was a sunny, yet cold day, and the roads were still icy in places, but the drive went fine. 

One thing I gotta say is that the people who work at these places have all been so kind. They went out of their way to make me feel welcome and comfortable. And the audiences, too...I always seem to learn something new from them. One of my favorite things about giving talks is the questions they asks and the anecdotes they often tell.

March will be another busy month for this author, so get ready to hear more about those squeaky wheels and well-rutted trails!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Busy Week - Events for Ox Cart Angel

This looks to be a fun and busy week!

I'll be giving a talk Thursday night to a group of Daughter of the American Revolution about Ox Cart Angel and the ox cart trails.

On Saturday, November 16th, I'll be at the annual Local Author Fair from 1 - 4 pm at the Galaxie Library in Apple Valley, Minnesota, along with many other writers. Lorna Landvik is giving the keynote!

Hope to see you there!


Friday, October 4, 2013

The Metis Flag

The Métis flag consists of an infinity symbol (which looks like the number 8 tipped over on its side) on either a blue or red background. The blue background is believed to have originally represented those Métis who worked for the North West Company, while the flag with the red background represented the Métis who worked for the Hudson's Bay Company.


Metis flag with blue background

To some, the infinity symbol represents either the faith that the Métis culture will live on forever. To others it represents the blending of the two cultures from which the Métis came. The flag made its first appearance in Canada when Alexander MacDonnell, of the North West Company, gave it to the Métis as a gift. They quickly adopted the flag, and it was soon used by Métis resistance fighters before the Battle of the Seven Oaks in 1816.

Metis flag with red background

The Métis flag can still be seen in some areas of Canada. If you see one on your journeys, I'd love to hear about it!