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Students get up close look at Native American heritage

Gasps came from the students sitting in the room as Phyllis Stone held up a purse that was made out of a turtle shell and fox pelt.

The purse was made in a traditional Lakota-style and lay next to an assortment of other objects that Native Americans would have had before modernization.

“We made things from whatever was there, and we made them pretty,” Stone, an educator on Lakota culture, told the students.

Stone talked to the students Tuesday during the Native American Festival, an annual event at the Hastings Museum.

She was one of several groups at the museum teaching roughly 250 area kids about Native American heritage. Schools ranged from Hastings Public Schools to Rock Hills Schools in Mankato, Kansas, as well as those who are home-schooled.

Stone told the personal stories of items she had, such as a peace pipe she made from wood and stone.

After her talk, she let the students hold each object and ask questions. Stone said she wants to get kids as close as they can to Native American culture, and physically picking up a piece of history is the best way to do that.

“Kids think, ‘If you’re not touching something, you’re not learning,’ “ Stone said. “I want you to see the real things. I want you to pick something up and look at it.”

In addition to Stone, other stations at the museum focused on various aspects of Native American culture, with a specific emphasis on the Plains Native Americans.

aroh / Amy Roh/Tribune  

Garan Coons performs a Native American dance during a presentation Tuesday for Hastings Museum’s Native American Festival.

Students in South Central Nebraska have limited access to Native American culture, said Becky Tideman, marketing director at the Hastings Museum.

That’s partially because of the nearest Nebraskan Native American Reservation being in the southeast corner of the state.

“There’s a lot of Native American history in this area, but not a lot of Native Americans,” Tideman said. “The youth in our area who go to school day-to-day and learn about it as history, kind of learn about it as an abstract notion.”

That limited access shouldn’t be an obstacle to learning about Native American culture and history, said Becky Matticks, executive director of the museum.

She said students should have an opportunity to be exposed to Native American culture because it is part of American history.

The Native American Festival offers a more immersive educational opportunity, Matticks said,

“You’re not just reading it out of a book, you’re seeing it,” Matticks said.

Kevin Connywerdy, a Native American artist, taught students how to do featherwork and prepare the feather pieces for a war bonnet.

Using glue and fabric, the students found it difficult to keep the feathers — and their fingers — clean.

“That was tough,” said Micah Bird, a home-schooled eighth-grader.

The war bonnet Connywerdy brought as an example had about 40 feathers and would take about a week to make.

He also explained that a the headdress is worn by people who have proven themselves honorable.

“We don’t let just anybody put it on. You have to earn the right to wear it,” Connywerdy said.

Students also visited visited Injunuity, a Native American flute-centric roots musical group, and the Many Moccasins Dance Troupe.

Nicole Tamayo-Benegas, a powwow princess, also spoke to the students about Native American culture.

On Wednesday evening, Injunuity and Many Moccasins Dance Troupe did a collaborative performance for the second year.

On Sunday at 2 p.m., there will be a screening of “Omónhon Íye The Omaha Speaking” followed by a question-and-answer session with the film’s director, Brigitte Timmerman, and a native Omaha speaker.

The documentary is about how fewer people speak the language of the Omaha Tribe and the challenge of keeping it alive.

The Native American Festival has been going on for 13 years and is supported by grants from Humanities Nebraska.

Remains found in Nebraska linked to Missouri killings

The Associated Press

NORTH PLATTE — Human remains discovered in a Nebraska stock trailer appear to be from one of two Wisconsin brothers who were fatally shot by a Missouri farmer, authorities said Monday.

The Lincoln County sheriff’s office in North Platte announced that an area rancher found the remains mixed with dirt in a plastic tub inside the trailer.

“We believe it probably is one of the brothers,” said Roland Kramer, the department’s chief deputy.

The rancher had just bought the trailer through an online ad from a seller in Missouri, Kramer said. He added that Lincoln County officials seized the trailer for possible use as evidence and would work with Missouri authorities as requested.

Garland Nelson, 25, of Braymer, Missouri, is accused of fatally shooting 35-year-old Nick Diemel and 24-year-old Justin Diemel, of Shawano County, Wisconsin, then burning their bodies and dumping them in a manure pile.

Jack Diemel, the brothers’ father, said the two had traveled to Nelson’s farm to collect on a $250,000 debt, according to court records. The father reported his sons missing July 21 after they failed to show up for a flight home to Milwaukee and did not answer their phones.

According to a probable cause statement, Nelson allegedly shot the brothers, put their bodies in 55-gallon barrels and used a skid loader to move them one at a time from a barn to a pasture.

There, he allegedly burned them using diesel fuel and an unknown liquid.

Nelson told investigators he then dumped the remains on a manure pile and hid the barrels elsewhere on his property, about 70 miles northeast of Kansas City, Missouri.

Zero Township gets zeroed out

Zero Township has been zeroed out.

Members of the Adams County Board of Supervisors voted 7-0 as the Board of Equalization during their regular meeting Tuesday to correct a levy for Zero Township to a zero amount.

County Clerk Ramona Thomas said Deann Haeffner, assistant deputy and county coordinator for the Nebraska state auditor’s office, was reviewing county levies that were set.

“We need to set Zero Township at zero because they did not file a budget,” Thomas said to introduce the item. “We had put in just giving them what they had last year and unless we want to file a budget on their behalf we are not allowed to do that.”

Townships in Adams County only have one year left of existence, anyway.

Voters approved a special issue vote in November 2018, to discontinue the township organization within Adams County. That discontinuance will change the Adams County Board of Supervisors into the Adams County Board of Commissioners.

The change in Adams County will take effect January 2021.

The county has struggled to get adequate participation on township boards. Of the 48 township board seats across the county’s 16 townships in 2018, only 32 names appeared on the ballot.

Townships were established by counties primarily to oversee maintenance of rural roads.

Maintenance of gravel roads that are not on mail routes now is done by the Adams County Department of Roads.

Townships contract with the county for their maintenance. Townships pay the county $175 per mile to provide the machine and labor, plus the cost of gravel.

Townships are six miles wide by six miles tall.

Zero Township is in south central Adams County, just north of the Webster County.

“So no roadwork?” Supervisor Chuck Neumann asked.

“Apparently not, unless they have funds left over,” Thomas responded.

Highway Superintendent Dawn Miller said the Zero Township board has a history of being unresponsive.

“What you’re saying is we shouldn’t babysit them any longer?” Supervisor Dale Curtis said.

“They’ve been babied all the way through,” Miller responded.

Neumann made the motion to correct the levy for Zero Township to .000.

“There is a fitting name for it,” he said.

Also during the meeting, the Supervisors took no action on a proposed amendment to the County Zoning Regulations for caretaker dwelling in the agricultural district.

In other business, the supervisors:

  • Unanimously approved an addendum to the FEMA purchasing contract.
  • Unanimously approved three motor vehicle exemptions as the Board of Equalization: One for Goodwill Industries, one for Hastings Catholic Schools and one for the Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society.
  • Voted 6-1 to approve a letter of engagement with the county’s bond agent, D.A. Davidson Associates of Omaha, for bonds to be possibly issued. Neumann dissented.
  • Unanimously approved an interlocal agreement for Central Nebraska Drug Court.
  • Unanimously approved a resolution stating formal declaration in support of the Hastings Rural Fire Department building project.
  • Unanimously approved a request from Verizon Wireless to upgrade its antennas and equipment on the Adams County Office Building. The specific changes will include removing three antennas, three tower mounted amplifiers, six lines of coax and remote radio units and adding six antennas and six remote radio units.

Kool-Aid Days moving to fairgrounds

In a collaboration that is expected to benefit both events, Kool-Aid Days and the Oregon Trail Rodeo will both occur on the third weekend in August and will take place simultaneously at the Adams County Fairgrounds.

“We thought it would be a good fit because we have so much space available out here,” fairgrounds manager Jolene Laux said. “Even as a board we had been talking about trying to figure something else to even bring out here during our Oregon Trail Rodeo.”

The Kool-Aid Days board and Adams County Agricultural Society Board of Directors each approved the collaboration last week.

Organizations for the two events will remain independent.

Moving Kool-Aid Days from the second weekend of August to the third weekend, avoids end-of-summer family vacations before the school year begins.

The Oregon Trail Rodeo moves up a weekend to coordinate with Kool-Aid Days.

“It is a win-win,” long-time Kool-Aid Days board member Becky Matticks said. “We look forward to the collaboration and the venue — the space we will have.”

She and Kool-Aid Days board president Marissa Sitzmore began working even before Kool-Aid Days 2019 to find another organization to partner with moving forward.

Both women have served on the board at least 10 years. Matticks was involved with Kool-Aid Days planning before joining the board through her role as executive director of the Hastings Museum.

“The community’s come to grow and expect and look forward to a three-day festival. This has come into fruition and we knew there were big shoes to fill,” Sitzmore said, referring to outgoing board members. “Although we have some outstanding new board members we had some big shoes to fill; families — it wasn’t just board members it was family members, as well.”

Many of the Kool-Aid Days events, such as the Kardboard Boat Races at Lake Hastings, which are reliant on specific locations, will continue as they have before.

Many details and locations of specific Kool-Aid Days activities within the fairgrounds have yet to be determined, but Kool-Aid Days organizers plan to utilize the shaded park south of the activities building.

Whereas, in downtown all of the Kool-Aid Days occur within half a block, there is more room to spread out at the fairgrounds, as well as ample parking.

“In downtown it gets congested,” Matticks said. “Some people get frustrated because there’s so many people in such a small space and when the parade’s done and you’re just this mass of humanity it gets a little crazy. So we’re hoping to be able to keep it in town and in a broader space, with some shade, and something else to do with the rodeo.”

Seniorfest on Friday and games on Saturday will occur inside the activities building.

Organizers say combining the events also means more food vendors on site than either event had previously.

“We were both willing to move our dates to make it happen,” Laux said. “We just think it would be beneficial for both of us, attendance-wise and just for the public to be able to experience a whole variety of stuff.”

She said rodeo officials are looking to establish a public education component similar to the fourth-grade field trip local schools took to the rodeo.

That activity was discontinued after 2018 because a lot of schools could not participate.

Kool-Aid Days board members are looking for additional board members to help plan, especially with the parade.

Even if someone wanted to help with an activity but did not necessarily want to join the board that involvement would be welcomed.

“If there’s a part of the festival you enjoy and would like to be part of it give us a call,” Matticks said.

To help plan Kool-Aid Days activities contact Sitzmore at 308-379-8932 or msitzmore@lamar.com; or Matticks at 402-461-4629 or rmatticks@hastingsmuseum.org.