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Museum features Estonian exhibit

The culture of the Estonian settlers in southwestern North Dakota is featured in a new exhibit at the Dickinson Joachim Regional Museum.

The exhibit includes four panels of information, a costume and artifacts.

The research was completed by Carl Larson, president of the Joachim Regional Museum board. He was assisted by Jan Stromsborg with the layout and Sandy Meduna from Service Printers with the printing.

It was sort of a team effort, said Larson. It was funded by a North Dakota Humanities Council grant of $3,000 for research of the Estonians and the Dutch.

The artifacts were provided by Miriam Lagus from Wisconsin, who is a friend of the Larson family.

I mainly picked Estonia as a tribute to my neighbor, Hilma Privratsky, who lived across the street, said Larson.

The Estonians settled southwest of Dickinson in the Daglum area.

The Estonians did not found their own Lutheran church. We started out with very little. Through the good fortune of my cousin knowing this lady, we were able to get excellent material, he said.

Larson said the exhibit features one display of mittens.

There are lots of traditions connected with the mittens, he said.

For example, a person with a stomach ache fills a mitten with hot oats and presses it against the afflicted area nine times. A bridegroom is to wear mittens to assure the birth of a son.

Larson said the Estonians were basically under the rule of other nations (Russians, Germans, Swedes, Poles and Danes) for much of their history.

The development of the Estonian consciousness didnt come until the 19th century, he said.

Larson said the museums policy is to uncover cultures that have less attention given to them.

The Germans from Russia and the Ukrainians have very active groups preserving their culture, he said.

Eventually, those cultures need to be considered as well. These others are largely gone. If it hadnt been for the lady in Wisconsin, much of the panels would not be there, he said.