Historical & Cultural
Paul Bunyan & Babe at the Tourist Information Center
Located on shore of Lake Bemidji stands the historic statues of the legendary lumberjack Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox, proudly welcoming visitors to the Tourist Information Center, a state of Minnesota Travel Affiliate. Open year around, the Information Center displays Paul Bunyan memorabilia (sure to bring a grin) and the nationally known historic Fireplace of States constructed using 900 rocks from every state in the union, and every province in Canada.
Since 1973, freestyle steps of toddlers commingle with the trained traditional footwork of elders as hundreds of dancers display their talents at the annual Spring PowWow. Dressed in full regalia, dancers peform jingle dress, fancy shawl, women’s traditional, men’s traditional, grass and chicken dance styles, all accompanied by the beat of traditional drum circles. Vendors wares include handmade blankets, beadwork, jewelry and dreamcatchers, with traditional foods and fry bread tacos. Open to the non-native public, this event is a fun learning experience for all.
Explore Minnesota Tourism
Established in 1934, Camp Rabideau was one of 2,650 Civilian Conservation Camps establised by Franklin D. Roosevelt to provide work and skills to unemployed men scraping by during the Great Depression. Projects included surveying, building roads, bridges, trails and fire towers, tree planting and fire fighting. Placed on the National Register of Historic Places, Camp Rabideau is one of only three remaining camps being preserved. Today visitors can see and learn more about this era through interpretive displays and a selfguided one-mile trail through the camp. Hosts are available to give tours. Picnic shelter on site.
CCC documentary “Built To Last” by Prairie Public Television
Explore Minnesota Tourism
Twice each season a day-long festival of cultures called International Day is celebrated. Through dance, art, cooking and play, intercultural exchange of teach-learn-do is ongoing throughout the day. Each of the language villages (Spanish, Finnish, Norwegian, German, Russian or French) bring out their wares as they share ethnic food and a cultural performance. Festivities also include a Peace Site Ceremony, Global Market, International Bazaar, Global Art Show, Exhibitor Tent, plus World Class Soccer, along with rides, tours, activity zones and Closing Ceremony.
As a child “Shaynowishkung” went on many trips up the Mississippi River with his father to the Bemidji area. Upon reaching adulthood, Shaynowishkung became the first to permanently settle on the shore of Lake Bemidji. Credited with helping the area’s first white settlers survive and respected by both the Indians and settlers for his gentleness, friendliness and fairness to all people, Shaynowishkung was honored with the title of “Chief Bemidji.” Today, a bronze statue dedicated to Chief Bemidji, honoring the Anishinabe people, stands overlooking Lake Bemidji in Library Park.
Concordia Language Villages
Visit the cultural grounds of Concordia Language Villages on Turtle Lake, uniquely nestled in the northwoods of Bemidji. From the moment you get your “passport” stamped and step into one of six architecturally and culturally authentic village sites, you will speak, eat, learn and play in the language and culture of your chosen village– Spanish, Finnish, Norwegian, German, Russian or French. Adult and child immersion programs, corporate and government training sessions, as well as educators and school groups seminars, Concordia offers a host of programs that bring language to life.
Lakeland Public TV
Santa Lucia Festival
For nearly 400 years, the people of Sweden have celebrated the Sankta Lucia Festival on their longest night of the year, the 13th of December. Legend holds that on this date during a famine, a white-clad St. Lucia, the Lady of Light, appeared on a Swedish lake bringing food and ushering in warmer and brighter days. Bemidji, a city proud of its Swedish descent, keeps this tradition alive with an annual celebration said to be one of the largest of its kind in the U.S. This early morning festival includes the ‘Crown of Candles’ procession of lighted candles and singing of the light and joy, ushering in the Christmas season to Bemidji. A traditional Swedish breakfast is also featured.
Beltrami County History Center
Housed in the historically restored 1912 Great Northern Depot is the Beltrami County History Center. Archives, collections, long and short term interpretive exhibits and educational programs together give visitors an opportunity to learn about the area’s railroad system, logging industry, Ojibwe life, the coming of pioneers, and even a historical view of northern Minnesota sports.
Bemidji Pioneer Photo
Headwaters Science Center
Explore the sciences through 70 self-guided, hands-on activities and interactive exhibits. Hold a snake or bunny, make a harmonograph picture, watch the kinetic sculpture, have fun at the popular bubble wall or echo tube, and spend a moment contemplating the beauty of our 210-gallon salt water aquarium. Tots-in-Science is a program available for young scientists, and Science After Dark are programs designed for adults. Unique gift shop.
If you seek a remote, restorative place of peace and quiet, one that bears witness to our heritage, plan to hike the easily accessible 144 acres called the “Lost Forty.” Due to an 1882 mapping error, these towering pines were mapped as a body of water, and therefore untouched by loggers and developers. The trees today remain as remnants of the natural resources that drew people to the new frontiers; shaping America’s character. A one-mile self-guided trail takes you through these majestic red and white pine, some as old as 300 to 400 years, and ranging from 22 to 48 inches in diameter. Carry-in boat allows access to Coddington Lake.
Vicki Olson, MPR