Cheyenne sewing circles, beet workers, Alberta politics in GP Quarterly

Released on 02/24/2011, at 2:00 AM
Office of University Communications
University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Lincoln, Neb., February 24th, 2011 —

In the winter issue of Great Plains Quarterly, an academic journal published by the Center for Great Plains Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, researchers wrote about Cheyenne and Mennonite sewing circles, beet field laborers in the North Platte Valley, and the American imprint on Alberta politics.

In "Moneneheo and Naheverien: Cheyenne and Mennonite Sewing Circles, Convergences and Conflicts, 1890-1970," Kimberly D. Schmidt writes about Mennonite missionaries among Native Americans by following the history of Marie and Rodolphe Petter who served among the Southern Cheyenne in Oklahoma. While her husband's lifework included an ethnographic dictionary of the Cheyenne language, Marie established a sewing circle that brought together the Mennonite and Cheyenne cultures. "The examination of sewing circles provides scholars with a case of multilayered meanings, of cultural convergences and conflicts, and through it all, the remarkable endurance of Cheyenne women's needlecraft traditions," wrote Schmidt, a professor of history at Eastern Mennonite University and director of the Washington Community Scholars' Center in Washington, D.C.

UNL graduate student Dustin Kipp studied the experiences of men, women, and children who labored in the beet fields in "'We Were Beet Workers, and that Was All': Beet Field Laborers in the North Platte Valley, 1902-1930." Early German-Russian migrants were encouraged to stay and help build the burgeoning sugar beet industry during the 1910s. Later arrivals, especially those coming from Mexico, met fewer opportunities. "This revealed an important change," said Kipp. "The Great Western Sugar Co. no longer sought to increase beet acreage by renting or selling land to immigrants on favorable terms. Instead, it recruited workers who would serve as a cheap, seasonal labor force and nothing more." Kipp is pursuing a master's degree in history.

In "The American Imprint on Alberta Politics," Nelson Wiseman, associate professor of political science at the University of Toronto, contends that "Alberta's early American settlers were pivotal in shaping Alberta's political culture and that Albertans have demonstrated a particular affinity for American political ideas and movements. Americans ingrained in the Albertan psyche an ardent individualist streak on issues of property and provincial rights and a suspicion of centralized authority."

Current issues of the journal may be purchased in the Great Plains Art Museum gift shop, 1155 Q St., or by calling the center at (402) 472-3082. Order forms are available online at

WRITER: Linda Ratcliffe, Center for Great Plains Studies, (402) 472-3965