Nebraska Arts Council (Omaha, NE)

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  Mr. Connell holding out a bosal style braided hackamore 

Wayne Connell, rancher, cowboy poet, and traditional artist in horsehair and leather, with a bosal style braided hackamore he made for training horses on his ranch near Tryon, Nebraska, included in the Nebraska Farming and Ranching Trunk Exhibit. Photo courtesy of Nebraska Folklife Network

From 1990 to 1999, Nebraska’s immigrant population rose at least 50 percent, according to a study by the Urban Institute. The Nebraska Arts Council (NAC) recognized the importance of making these new diverse cultural traditions better known to the public and created the Latino Arts Initiative, designed to identify and serve Nebraska’s growing Latino arts field. In 2003, through a collaboration with the Nebraska Humanities Council and the University of Nebraska– Lincoln Plains Humanities Alliance, NAC created the Nebraska Folklife Network (NFN), devoted to the documentation, preservation, and presentation of Nebraska’s diverse folk and traditional arts.

In FY 2006, NAC received an NEA Folk & Traditional Arts Infrastructure grant of $25,000 to support Nebraska Folklife Network’s 2007 activities. This included the implementation of Nebraska by Heart, a folk arts curriculum focused on Nebraska and used by teachers at the middle school level, as well as professional development activities for teachers and traditional artists focused on this curriculum.

NFN also created museum trunk exhibits highlighting Nebraska’s farm and ranch traditions and educational kits on Irish- American and Iraqi cultural traditions to be used by schools to meet Nebraska social studies, arts, and other academic standards and recommendations. NFN’s activities are designed to both highlight Nebraska’s deep traditions as well as appreciate the culture of its newer immigrants, building a greater cultural understanding among its citizens and preserving these diverse traditions and cultures for the future.

(From the NEA 2006 Annual Report)