HCSCC Director Maureen Kelly Jonason Reflects on Pangea: Cultivate Our Cultures

This past weekend, the Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County hosted Pangea: Cultivate Our Cultures at the Hjemkomst Center. We asked HCSCC Executive Director Maureen Kelly Jonason to recap and reflect on the experience and why it matters in our community:

Pangea – My Favorite Day of the Year
By Maureen Kelly Jonason

Once again, Pangea—Cultivate Our Cultures has come and gone! With 1756 attendees counted and almost all the food sold out, we broke records and had our best multicultural celebration ever! This year, I actually found some time to watch some of the inspiring performances. We are honored every year to have the Buffalo River Singers and Dancers lead off the festivities with demonstrations and interpretation of the most popular traditional Northern Plains Indian dances. The call of the drums draws our visitors toward the stage and soon a crowd gathers to look, listen, and learn.

I grow teary-eyed watching the youngest performers representing various cultures throughout the day as keeping diverse cultural traditions alive is one of the goals of the event. A teeny tiny Bharatnatyam dancer with a braid that runs the entire length of her shortness charms the audience with her big eyes and hand gestures that tell a story.

This year, the foods were wondrous with new offerings including Iraqi sweets, Somalian sambusas, and German Borscht and old favorites like French crepes and Danish aebelskiver. I drank four cups of masala chai made with roasted and ground spices, including black pepper, and lots of sugar. Yum! My only regret is having only one stomach.

All around the ship and downstairs are the many tables of displays, activities, and wares for sale. This year, there were more children’s activities than usual. But perhaps what was most noticeable was such an air of camaraderie and good will! Neighbors of all colors and cultures enjoying each other’s company. And everyone seemed to be having a wonderful time. If there is any point to Pangea—Cultivate Our Cultures –after 23 years—it has to be this: Enjoy the cultural diversity throughout our community that is evident all around us as it is clearly here to stay. But perhaps the most meaningful lesson of all is that we all make up the cultural diversity of this community: Danes are not Swedes any more than Somalians are Sudanese. Embrace your cultural uniqueness. Happy Pangea!

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