Saturday, December 27, 2008

Green Homesteading

by Doris Martin

Going green is currently being marketed as a new idea. But is it?

American Indians and homesteaders recycled not because it was popular but because it was a way of life. This lifestyle is demonstrated by rangers at Homestead National Monument each time they give the “Follow the Buffalo” program. It shows the importance of buffalo to Indians and the uses they made of all parts of the buffalo. For example, they used the skin for teepees and blankets, buffalo chips for fuel, muscles and tendons became glue, and for food. If you would like to hear this program contact Tina Miller, the education coordinator at the Monument.

Homesteaders also used their limited supplies in a variety of ways. It is sometimes referred to as “making do” An interactive exhibit at the Heritage Center demonstrates some of the uses they made of available goods. For example, small scraps of material left over after clothes were made became quilts, when beef were slaughtered the fat was used to make candles and soap, and native plants were used as medicines.

The American Frugal Housewife, by Lydia M. Child, begins with “The true economy of housekeeping is simply the art of gathering up all the fragments, so that nothing be lost. I mean fragments of time, as well as materials. Nothing should be thrown away so long as it is possible to make any use of it, however trifling that use may be; and whatever be the size of a family, every member should be employed either in earning or saving money.” It contains numerous ideas to save money and supplies and can be purchased in the bookstore at Homestead National Monument of America.

American Indians and homesteaders made the most of what they had. It sure sounds like they were going green long before it was trendy.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Happy Holdays from Homestead Congress

In the midst of the Civil War, President Lincoln signed into law two visionary programs that helped our people come together again and build America up. The Morrill Act helped States create new land grant colleges. This is a land grant university. The university in my home State was the first land grant college west of the Mississippi River. In these places, young people learn to make American agriculture and industry the best in the world. The legacy of the Morrill Act is not only our great colleges and universities like Rutgers but the American tradition that merit and not money should give people a chance for a higher education.

Mr. Lincoln also signed the Homestead Act that offered 100 acres of land for families who had the courage to settle the frontier and farm the wilderness. Its legacy is a nation that stretches from coast to coast. Now we must create a new legacy that gives a new generation of Americans the right and the power to explore the frontiers of science and technology and space. The frontiers of the limitations of our knowledge must be pushed back so that we can do what we need to do. And education is the way to do it, just as surely as it was more than 100 years ago.

Bill Clinton, March 1, 1993

It is the goal of Homestead Congress to tell the Homestead story and it is our sincere hope that our homestead stories, both modern and old, delivered through the frontier of blog technology have educated you, our readers, on and about the heroic homesteaders of America.

Many thanks to our 2008 contributors:

Todd Arrington, Homestead National Monument

Jesse Bolli, Homestead National Monument

Jerry Davison, Volunteer Homestead Congress

Denise Elmer, Volunteer Homestead Congress

Gene Finke, Homestead National Monument

Jessica Fleming, Homestead National Monument

Bernadette Korslund, Volunteer Homestead Congress

Dr. Leo L. Lemonds, author Nebraska Veterinary History

Manuel Hastings’s Memoirs

Lisa Roberts, Southeast Community College

Emery Stoops, author Prairie Pioneers

Happy Holidays!

A Brief Story of the National Christmas Tree

by C.L. Arbelbide