August 23, 2012

Senior center bears name of lost community

Senior center bears name of lost community

By CHERYL ODDEN
For many people, completion of the Garrison Dam in 1953 was a sign of progress. Though taming the Missouri River provided numerous benefits such as flood control and a reservoir for recreation, there was a downside. Farmers lost fertile cropland and numerous small communities were buried below tons of water. Towns claimed by the onslaught of water included Nishu, a small Native American reservation community inhabited by members of the Arikara nation.
This past Saturday, Arikara elders met at the White Shield senior center for a special ceremony – dedication of the facility as Nishu Lodge White Shield Elder Center & Clinic. The re-naming ceremony concluded a day that began with a trail ride from the shore of Lake Sakakawea to the city of White Shield. During rest stops, tribal elders shared Arikara culture and told stories about the lost community of Nishu.
Those who gathered at the senior center for the re-naming ceremony also shared stories about Nishu. Greta White Calfe, an elder and retired teacher, brought a rough draft map of Nishu. The map, drawn to reflect her childhood home, included the Missouri River, the Six-mile Creek and nearby coal mines. Also included were the location of homes, the school, churches and a store that also doubled as the community’s post office.
“It was beautiful land, fertile land,” White Calfe said. “Everyone worked hard and was self-sufficient.” She said the residents of Nishu raised crops, planted large gardens and tended huge herds of cattle and horses. She described the era before the land was flooded as a time of plenty, of self-sufficiency and of generosity.


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