Mari Snadoz

Mari Sandoz statue at the Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center on the Chadron State College campus. (Photo by Daniel Binkard)

Daniel Binkard

The 2017 Mari Sandoz Conference, “Nebraska 150 and the Future,” opens Thursday at 7:30 p.m. with the Pilster Great Plains Lecture at the Chadron State College Student Center.

Walter Echo Hawk will speak on “Nebraska before Nebraska: Our Pawnee Homeland” and will take questions and sign books following the talk, which is free and open to the public.

Echo Hawk, an attorney, author and activist who lives in Oklahoma, tells the story of 10 generations of his ancestors is his book, “Sea of Grass,” that will be released later this year.

Dr. Kurt Kinbacher, CSC associate professor of history and conference chair, said Echo Hawk is a scholar of renown and champion of indigenous rights. Kinbacher encouraged CSC faculty, staff and students to attend the lecture made possible by the Pilster Endowment.

Registration starts at 8:30 a.m. Friday at the Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center Chicoine Atrium, with conference sessions beginning at 9 a.m. Presenters include Nebraska State Poet Twyla M. Hansen, Steven Rolfsmeier, director of the Herbarium at CSC, and Robert Roy Foresman, recipient of the 2017 Sandoz Research Award.

The time capsule celebration is free and open to the public. It begins at 1:30 p.m. with a talk by John R. Wunder on Mari Sandoz and her 1957 predictions, followed by an opportunity for audience members to make their own predictions for the future.

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A panel discussion “Welcome to the Land of Time,”  moderated by Deb Carpenter-Nolting and Craig Larson starts at 2:15 p.m. Panelists include Martin Gilmore, Jovan Mays, Donette Lone Hill, Mercedes Lone Hill and David Nesheim. At 3 p.m., Mays will lead a writing workshop to help participants form their predictions for the time capsule. 

Launching of the time capsule will begin at 3:30 p.m. in front of the Sandoz Center with a presentation by Becky Herian, member of the Nebraska Sesquicentennial Commission. Herian will read a proclamation recognizing the time capsule as a Nebraska 150 Legacy Project. Martin Gilmore will sing an original song, Mays will perform an original poem, Donette Lone Hill and Mercedes Lone Hill will place the capsule in the earth and say a prayer and Ron Hull will give a brief message and place the first handful of earth over the capsule.

Conference closing remarks are at 4 p.m.

A related talk, “Getting in Touch with Mari Sandoz” by British historian and novelist Alan Wilkinson will take place at 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 30, at the Bean Broker in downtown Chadron. Wilkinson will discuss his observations during a six-month retreat in the Sandhills in 2011.

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