Plans taking shape for ‘Going Native: Iowa Prairies’ event in September

Art and nature to meet in collaborative program by the Carnegie Library Museum, Forest Park Museum and Dallas County Extension


A late-summer programming collaboration among the Carnegie Library Museum in Perry, the Dallas County Conservation Board’s Forest Park Museum near Perry and the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach offices in Adel will join two different but compatible visions of the Iowa landscape.

“Going Native: Iowa Prairies” will explore the meaning and value of the land in the indigenous cultures of Native American nations and in the immigrant European sensibility as represented by Danish-American landscape architect Jens Jensen. It will also explore growing monarch butterfly gardens and native grasses.

Jens Jensen in his later years was a teacher in his own school.
Influential Danish-American landscape architect Jens Jensen lived from 1860 to 1951.

The exact schedule of the Sept. 19 program is still taking shape, according to Laura Stebbins, Carnegie Library Museum volunteer and the prime mover behind the event, but the day-long program will start with a light breakfast and a casual stroll through the Carnegie’s “Jens Jensen: Celebrating the Native Prairie” exhibition.

Stebbins introduced readers of to Jensen’s influential work in a May article. September’s show will feature a presentation by Iowa State University landscape architect and design fellow Chad Hunter, a specialist in the work of Jensen, who was a major force in landscape architecture in the U.S.

“We have really put our heads together on this event,” Stebbins said. “I think people are going to love the richness of this art of nature. Or is it natural art? It’s hard to give it a name that really fits and does it justice.”

Stebbins was not alone in organizing the landscape program but was joined in the effort by Carnegie Library Museum volunteer Monica Peitz, ISU Extension and Outreach Marketing and Communications Coordinator Caitlyn Ryan and Dallas County Conservation Board Historical and Cultural Resources Coordinator and Forest Park Museum Curator Pete Malmberg.

This group is not prepared to release the names of all the speakers and performers on the bill, but Stebbins said breakout sessions and one or two short talks in the ISU Center for TownCraft will be followed by lunch, catered by the Hotel Pattee.

In the afternoon, the program moves to Forest Park Museum for a brief guided tour of the museum’s prairie artifacts and the arboretum.

Native American dancer Arlan Whitebreast will perform at Forest Park Museum near Perry.
Native American dancer Arlan Whitebreast will perform at Forest Park Museum near Perry.

Capping the event will be dance performances at Forest Park by Arlan Whitebreast, a Native Pride Productions dancer and member of the Meskwaki Nation. Native American flutist George Good Eagle Voice and storyteller Howard Crow Eagle are also possible performers.

“We’re very excited to be partnering with Forest Park and Dallas County Extension on this unique event,” Stebbins said. “I think it shows how cultures that in some ways are really very different can find common ground and a common language in their deep love and respect for the land.”

Ticket prices for the day-long prairie celebration are $25, with the dance performances free. The Carnegie volunteers are seeking funding through a Humanities Iowa mini grant, Stebbins said, but if individuals or businesses want to help ensure that the Native American program happens, they could give donations to the Perry City Hall and earmark them for the Native American performance or other upcoming Carnegie exhibits and events.


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