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Groundbreaking held for the new Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle

Photo courtesy of the Nordic Heritage Museum

Author: David E. Johnson, Seattle, WA  

The Nordic Heritage Museum ushered in the beginning of a new chapter in the museum’s history at a groundbreaking celebration on July 30, 2016. A modern 57,000-square-foot museum and cultural center will soon be located in the heart of Ballard and will include a refined layout and expanded modern exhibition and educational spaces.
Several government officials, including Seattle’s mayor, joined with generous donors and Eric Nelson, executive director of the museum, to turn over the ceremonial first shovels of dirt. Over 400 people attending the ceremony were treated to champagne and songs from the Norwegian Choir, led by an Icelander! Moving speeches were given about the sacrifices of our ancestors and the values they brought with them – values that are alive and strong in Seattle today.  
The new museum will be organized around a linear “fjord” that weaves together the stories of homeland and the Nordic American experience. About 95 percent of the $46 million (US) needed to complete the project has already been raised.


Memories of the Settlement – Part 2

A lecture at the Settlement Festival at Hnausa – July 2, 1951
By Guttormur J. Guttormsson (1878-1966)


Continued from the August 1st issue
Boat building began during the first settlement years in Fljótsbyggð (River District), at Mikley, and elsewhere in New Iceland. A beginning was made on a very large boat, the keel was laid and several of the ribs completed, then the project was abandoned. But the ship had already been named Vindigo or Vittigo. I do remember that our mother rebuked us if we let the name of the boat escape from our lips because its meaning was the Cree word for devil. I remember that two ribs of Vindigo lay for a long time on the ground north of the Framfari printshop. Who they were that undertook the building of that boat, and why they gave it up, is now forgotten.
The first two-masted ship that I can remember was called Bláus and was owned by some farmers in Fljótsbyggð. It was used for a time between Lundiþorp and Selkirk. The first two-masted ship owned by the people of Mikley was called Borðeyringur, large and well-built by Stefán Jónsson, who at that time lived at Borðeyri on Mikley, father of Captain Kjartan. That vessel sailed for many years between Mikley and the Crossing (Selkirk). It was subject to constant deviations and once landed in weather so bad that the front sail drove the cross-member that held the mast in place through the roof “and fell into the sea.” After the Victorian era, which will later be described (since the Fljótsbyggð people had their own Victorian age, named after Victoria, the steamship belonging to Friðjón and Sigtryggur), Friðsteinn Sigurðsson ran the business for a few years. He owned a big old York boat, two-masted, and ran sailings between Möðruvellir and the Crossing. The skipper on that ship was Eiríkur Eymundsson, probably the best seaman who ever came to Lake Winnipeg. Sigvaldi Thorvaldsson was another sea-ace contemporary with Eiríkur. He owned a two-master built by Kristján from Geitareyjum. It was called Kristjón, but later was christened Lára frá Lundi. It sailed for many years and, among other things, carried the mail between Selkirk and Lundiþorp.


Forming stronger bonds: An interview with INLNA president Sunna Furstenau

Photo: Susan Atwood Author: Natalie Guttormsson, Editor of Fálkinn

Sunna Furstenau was born in Cavalier, North Dakota, and grew up in the Icelandic community of Eyford. She currently resides with her husband in both Fargo, North Dakota, and on a farm west of Gardar. As the editor of Fálkinn, the newsletter of the Icelandic Canadian Club of Toronto, Natalie Guttormsson recently caught up with Sunna to ask her a few questions.
What makes you passionate about being a Western Icelander?
Growing up in an Icelandic community, almost everyone had Icelandic names and Icelandic grandparents. We celebrated every summer at the Deuce of August – the 2nd of August celebration in Mountain. We sang Icelandic songs in church and at Amma’s house, which was just next door to our house. I believe that each of us has an obligation to teach our Icelandic heritage to the next generation. We are a minority of people in the world and it is important to keep these stories alive. Besides, being part of the Icelandic clan is very fun and rewarding.


More Articles...

  1. Memories of the Settlement – Part 1
  2. Medieval wisdom for modern minds



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