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Fort Mandan brings North Dakota history programs to Bakken area schools

Posted on 3/12/2015

WASHBURN - The Lewis & Clark Fort Mandan Foundation (the Foundation) spent the past few weeks bringing live presentations and activities about local history into classrooms throughout western North Dakota thanks to a grant from Hess Corporation.

The programs were offered to fourth- and eighth-grade classes and tailored to meet educational standards for those grade levels. In all, the Foundation's Fort Mandan's nationally-certified interpreters delivered programs to 28 schools in 16 communities−nearly 1,400 students.

"We're extremely proud of our interpretive programs and were pleased to be able to bring history straight into the classroom thanks to the grant from Hess Corporation," said the Foundation's Interpretive Coordinator Robert Hanna.

These hands-on programs help make history more relatable for students. "The students really feel immersed in the history they're learning," Hanna said.

The Foundation offered teachers six programs to choose from that taught students about:
     North Dakota's Mandan and Hidatsa villages;
     American Indian sports;
     North Dakota's native bird species;
     Explorer and artist George Catlin;
     Packing for the Lewis & Clark Expedition; and
     What it was like to make life-changing decisions on the expedition.

"They've had the chance to see and touch hundreds-of-years-old artifacts, make decisions like they were members of the Lewis & Clark Expedition, and even play American Indian sports," Hanna said.

One program, "North Dakota imPRESSions," gave fourth-grade students the chance to make their own unique art prints on a portable printing press. Nearly 250 students made prints using the same method that the early North Dakota explorer and world-famous artist George Catlin did over 150 years ago. 

The original artwork will be displayed alongside all 25 lithographs from Catlin's "Hunting Scenes and Amusements" as part of a new art exhibit at the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center.

"Students don't usually get the chance to create original artwork for display in a museum," Hanna said. "This way, they not only get the unique experience of using a printing press, but they also get to share their art with the public."

The new exhibit will be displayed April 4 through June 21.

The Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center is located in Washburn and open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

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