What do a missionary, a civil rights activist and a Shoshone Indian have in common?
They are a few of the characters being brought back to life during the Young Chautauqua program 5 p.m. Wednesday in Mormon Station State Historic Park.
The Young Chautauqua program is for students in grades three through eight.
Students choose a historical character, research his or her life, and give a presentation in and out of character.
“They’re doing a great job. Most people who have seen it say they learned something about history themselves,” said Iris Blaisdell, volunteer education director for the Douglas County Historical Society. “If you like history it will be educational as well as fun. If you have children to bring maybe they will want to be involved next year.”
Nef Arbuckle, 14, portrays Josephine Baker. The Carson Valley Middle School student has participated in Young Chautauqua for four years. Nef enjoys reading and acting, and said she chose Baker because she was an activist and because of her artistic personality.
Baker, born in 1906, was an African American dancer and singer, and used her artistic talents to pursue her role as an activist against segregation during the Civil Rights era. She rose from poverty to be a well-known star in France and the United States. She also adopted 12 children from around the world and called them her “rainbow tribe.” She died in 1975.
Skylar Chernago portrays Sacagawea. Skylar is a 9-year-old third-grader at Minden Elementary School. This is her second year in Young Chautauqua. Skylar said she loves animals because there is so much we do not know about them.
She chose to portray Sacagawea because she saw her picture on the dollar coin. Sacagawea, born in 1788, was stolen from her Shoshone tribe by a rival tribe as a teenager. She became the wife of a French fur trapper and guide. When he was asked to join the Lewis and Clark expedition of 1804 from Missouri to the Pacific, the expedition was glad to have her join also as she could translate some of the Indian languages they knew they would encounter. She helped Lewis and Clark when they encountered her brother who had become chief of the Shoshone. She later returned to her tribe, and Lewis and Clark adopted and educated her young son, Pomp, who had been born on the journey. There are conflicting dates as to her death, most commonly it is thought she died in 1812.
Sandia Johnson portrays Mary Slessor. Sandia is 11 years old and in fifth grade. She loves reading, writing, and playing with her younger sister and brother. This is her first full year of Young Chautauqua, and she hopes to return again next year. Sandia said she chose Slessor because she read a book about her and became interested in her life. Slessor was born in Scotland in 1848 and always aspired to be a missionary. When she was 27 years old she finally had the opportunity to complete her dream and go to the Calabar area of Africa. This was approximately where Nigeria is today. She served there for 40 years bringing civilization and commerce to the inhabitants.
Ethan McKinney portrays Paul Revere. He is 12-years old and home-schooled in the sixth grade. This is his second year in Young Chautauqua. His hobbies are hunting, showing livestock, contra bass violin, and reading. He said he chose Paul Revere, the colonial patriot, because not much is known about him other than he alerted the colonists to the fact that the British were coming. Ethan enjoyed the challenge of finding out more about him. Paul Revere was born in 1734. As a child he became apprenticed to his father, and when his father died he became the sole breadwinner for the family. Revere developed many things including the first powder mill and the first copper mill in the colonies. He also was a silver smith and bell maker. He died in 1813.
Emily Willis portrays Golda Meir. Emily is 12 years old, in sixth grade and home-schooled. She has been doing Chautauqua for three years. She is also a member of the Douglas Dolphins Swim Team. She chose to portray Meir because she admired how much she accomplished in her lifetime. Meir was raised in the United States, but rose to become Prime Minister of Israel for four years, which included the time of the Yom Kippur War of 1973. She was a Zionist all of her life and was instrumental in bringing Israel into existence. Emily says she admires her because she never quit, even when she had cancer.