A focus on Mari Sandoz in Chadron

Pure Nebraska
Published: Sep. 11, 2020 at 12:42 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - The former Chadron State College Carnegie-style library serves as a center dedicated to one of Nebraska’s famous authors.

During a trip to Chadron, we stopped at the Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center to learn more about this unique attraction. The building was built in 1929. In 2002, the building became the High Plains Heritage Center. The Mari Sandoz exhibit is a permanent one on campus. “It’s an exhibit that details Mari’s life and her books,” Mari Sandoz Society member Courtney Kouba said.

Sandoz is remembered in Chadron, because she is from the area. “She grew up in the Sandhills,” Kouba said. “She eventually moved to Lincoln where she started writing. Her very first book was called ‘Old Jules’, which was about her father. One of the important things about Mari is that she brought the struggle of Native Americans to the forefront, and wrote from a Native American perspective. You can see that in her book ‘Cheyenne Autumn’. Mari was honest in her writing, and she didn’t try to sugar coat things.”

While you are visiting the Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center, make sure you look at the gardens out front. They are designed by landscaper Lucinda Mays, and they feature native plants from the area. “The grounds are a big draw,” Kouba said. “But we also have our archival items downstairs, where people can come and do research.” You can also see Mari’s grave site, which is about 30 miles south of Gordon, and she’s buried at the ‘orchard place’, which Kouba says is the second place where Jules and his wife Mary lived.

The Center is also on the 2020 Nebraska Tourism Passport Program. You are encouraged to stop by and get a stamp. If the Center is not open, you can go to the “Bean Broker” coffee shop downtown. They will provide a stamp when the Center is not open.

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