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County Museum Exhibit Gives Visitors a Glimpse into Hispanic Culture (2017-08-09)
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The Grant County Historical Society’s new Hispanic display made news in the Grant County Review’s July 5 issue. Click the Read More button to see the story you missed if you aren’t subscribing to your hometown newspaper.

There is a growing Hispanic population in Grant County, but Arlo Levisen, president of the Grant County Historical Society, realized very few, if any, ever visited the museums in Milbank and Stockholm.

Wanting to involve members of the Hispanic community in the work of the historical society, Levisen reached out to several people and through that association a Hispanic Culture Exhibit is now on display at the Dolan-Justice Memorial Museum on Third Avenue in Milbank.

“I realized that almost 10 percent of the population in Milbank was Hispanic, and I felt the historical society needed to address this population in a positive manner,” said Levisen.

To start the process, Levisen initiated several conversations with Jorge Regil, owner of Habaneros in Milbank. Together they planned a series of meetings with interested members of the Hispanic community at the museum. Five gatherings took place, which drew members who were willing to work on a display.

Regil agreed to co-sponsor the exhibit, designed and printed a large poster and provided items for display. Through his work others have stepped forth with items which represent Central and South America.

A colorful five-point pinata made by Miriam Chavez is featured as well as a sombrero. Other items have been provided by Chavez and Angelica Bello.

Bruce Johnson, museum curator, who has spent time in Mexico, also included some of his personal items for the display.

Levisen provided a pair of hand-carved Peruvian figures that he and his wife, Paulette, received as a wedding present more than 50 years ago. It was provided to them by a college classmate who was serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in the mountains of Peru at the time. They have also spent time in Mexico and Costa Rica and some of the artifacts they’ve acquired can be viewed.

The display contains a small representation of Latin percussion instruments such as the ocarinas, zampona, mbria and quenas. “Stop in and play the teponatztli,” urges Johnson. “If you have a traditional huehuetl, bring it with you and play it for us.”

Cooking items are featured including a cookbook, mortar and pestal, and a molcajete y tejolute, a Meso-American utensil fabricated from coarse basalt stone in a traditional three-legged bowl form. “It is interesting to note that cup-bowls and pounders, the Native American version of the mortar and pestal, predominate in midwestern North America, are on display in the agricultural museum in Stockholm,” said Johnson.

Statues and banners depicting the flags of Hispanic nations can also be seen as well as other items.

For a glimpse into the Hispanic culture, stop in at the Dolan-Justice Memorial Museum which is open Sundays from 2 t0 5 p.m. during the summer months. – Debbie Hemmer, Grant County Review

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