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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Chautauqua, A Living History Experience Coming to Bismarck


General Lee signs the surrender papers at Appomattox Court House. General Grant sits at the other table. Standing second from the right is Ely Parker, a Seneca Indian from Upstate New York.

When General Lee arrived at the Appomattox Court House to discuss terms of surrender with General Grant, he was introduced to Grant’s personal secretary, Lieutenant Colonel Ely Parker.  Startled by the sight of the Seneca Indian chief, Lee paused for a brief moment, then extended his hand to Parker and said, “I am glad to see one American here.”  Parker took Lee’s hand and replied, “We are all Americans.”  Grant then had Parker compose the surrender papers, which Lee signed.

“His story is absolutely intriguing.  I think people will be amazed at what he accomplished in spite of the odds against him,” says Reuben Fast Horse, the scholar who will be portraying Ely Parker during the upcoming Everett C. Albers Chautauqua, which runs September 5 – 8, in Bismarck.

L to r: Frederick Douglass, Little Crow, Clara Barton, Ely Parker, and William Jayne.

During the living history event, sponsored by the North Dakota Humanities Council, scholars will present the stories of four people who played significant roles in the Civil War in America: Little Crow, who led the Santee Dakota in the Dakota Conflict of 1862, portrayed by Jerome Kills Small; Gen. Ely Parker, the Seneca Indian chief and Union general who drafted the surrender papers signed by Confederate General Lee at Appomattox, portrayed by Reuben Fast Horse; Frederick Douglass, the former slave, abolitionist, and writer, portrayed by Charles Everett Pace; and Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross, portrayed by Karen Vuranch. Governor William Jayne, who was President Lincoln’s personal physician and first governor of Dakota Territory, portrayed by Dr. D. Jerome Tweton, will moderate the Chautauqua presentations.

All performances, which combine entertainment with education, are free and open to the public.  For those unfamiliar with Chautauqua, the routine is simple: Performers present a 45-minute monologue in character and then field questions from the audience.  According to event coordinator Dakota Goodhouse, “The scholars who portray the characters are skilled interpreters who’ve devoted months or even years of study to present authentic performances.  They imitate appropriate accents and styles of dress.  Most of all, they strive to speak their characters’ words precisely.”

Adult workshops and children’s programs will also be presented.  During the adult workshops scholars step out of character to present more in depth analysis of the historical figure they have researched.  The children’s programs are an opportunity for children to learn more about American history. 

For more information visit www.ndhumanities.org or call 701.255.3360.


Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012
10:00 AM             Children’s program by Charles Everett Pace at the Bismarck Veterans Memorial Public Library

2:00 PM                Adult workshop by Karen Vuranch at the Bismarck Veterans Memorial Public Library

6:30 PM                Evening Chautauqua program by Little Crow, portrayed by Jerome Kills Small, at St. George’s Episcopal Church

Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012
10:00 AM             Children’s program by Karen Vuranch at the Bismarck Veterans Memorial Public Library

2:00 PM                Adult workshop by Jerome Kills Small at the Bismarck Veterans Memorial Public Library

6:30 PM                Evening Chautauqua program by Gen. Ely Parker, portrayed by Reuben Fast Horse, at St. George’s Episcopal Church

Friday, Sept. 7, 2012
10:00 AM             Children’s program by Jerome Kills Small at the Bismarck Veterans Memorial Public Library

2:00 PM                Adult workshop by Reuben Fast Horse at the Bismarck Veterans Memorial Public Library

6:30 PM                Evening Chautauqua program by Frederick Douglass, portrayed by Charles Everett Pace, at St. George’s Episcopal Church

 Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012
1:00 PM                Children’s program by Reuben Fast Horse at the Bismarck Veterans Memorial Public Library

2:00 PM                Adult workshop by Charles Everett Pace at the Bismarck Veterans Memorial Public Library

3:00 PM                Afternoon Chautauqua program by Clara Barton, portrayed by Karen Vuranch, at St. George’s Episcopal Church

 4:00 PM               Chautauqua Scholar meet-and-greet at the North Dakota Former Governors’ Mansion