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Archiving Minnesota Life Stories

Through a curriculum called Elders’ Wisdom, Children’s Song, Minnesota elders have been brought into public schools for over thirty years to share their life stories with students. Here are just a few:

Childhood in a Japanese-American internment camp

WATCH a video of Helen Tsuchiya’s story

Becoming an Anishinabe Ojibwe
language instructor

READ Johnny Smith's story and listen to his honor song

Fighting in the Battle of the Bulge (WWII)

READ Gene Carr's story in his words

Over one thousand of these life stories have been recorded and honored by youth in song! They reflect a Minnesota that is tremendously different and much more diverse than the “Lake Wobegon” image from popular culture.


Much of this collection is under immediate threat of deterioration. We need your help to transfer this rich collection into archival quality for future community members, activists, educators and researchers is now! Visit GiveMN and learn how you can help keep these stories alive!

Testimonial Block

“I’m honored to be a contributor and hoping that others will come to the fore.... It’s imperative that these archives be made available to inspire others.”

Peter Yarrow, Peter, Paul and Mary

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Young Publishers

Books, written and illustrated by students, tell the stories shared by elders of many cultures. They teach our children the varied and multi-colored stories of our neighbors while expanding their writing, art and social studies skills.


Anishinabe Ojibwe


Our goal is to create a comprehensive body of student-based literature celebrating the many faces of our region. Through your support we will bring this knowledge and experience to more Minnesota schools.

Community Celebration of Place needs to raise $5000 to continue this program for 2016. We need you! Visit our page at GiveMN to learn how you can help.

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Bi-Lingual Series

Celebrating and elevating the stories of Latino friends and elders through a process of listening, reading, speaking and writing in the Spanish language.


Darle Honor Ana Matos


Darle Honor Orlando Reyes


En honor de Hebierto Vargas


Darle Honor Sra. Guerrero

View all Young Publishers Books

Elders’ Wisdom, Children’s Song: Honoring Men of Color

Community Celebration of Place explored new creative processes in development of this year’s theme, Honoring Men of Color.  Our students were young men of color who had the opportunity to hear and honor Elders Edgar Young Jr., David Branch and Reverend Richard Coleman at Lucy Craft Laney Community School.

The entire creative process was captured by innovative filmmaker ADDAM in “Honoring Men of Color: Elders’ Wisdom, Children’s Song.”

Learn more about Honoring Men of Color

Music-Film Documentaries Spotlight EWCS Elders

Community Celebration of Place and filmmaker David McDonald teamed up to produce two music-film documentaries about EWCS Elders Gyatsho Tshering and Helen Tsuchiya. "Tibet" and "Be Kind to All That Live" feature each elder's honor song, photographs and interviews surrounding their stories. Both songs are featured on Executive Director Larry Long's album, Don't Stand Still.

Watch the films

Honored Elders

Makida Abdulahi

Oromo-Jawi Elder and First Woman to Graduate High School In Her City

The Youth Voices Music Project

“Since I was young, at an early age, no one seemed to care what I had to say. If they only knew what we’ve been through, they would say, oh my god, what can I do?”

The above excerpt is from “Freedom,” a song written and recorded by two young girls imprisoned in a children’s detention center, with the help of Larry Long.

During the Spring of 2010, the SPLC worked in collaboration with youth from the Gulf Coast Region and professional musicians to use music to give a voice to these children’s realities, hopes and dreams. Through the SPLC Youth Voices Music Project, over a few short days, these children wrote, sang and recorded seven original songs. The children demonstrate remarkable gifts and talents, as well as profound depth and thoughtfulness about life as a child in the Deep South in their music and lyrics.

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Save Our History!

Give to the Max Day 2015: Give to the Max Day 2015


My heartfelt thanks to Larry Long and all the voices from which our history continues to generate encouragement, enthusiasm and wisdom.

Arlo Guthrie, Songwriter, Son of Woody Guthrie

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News & Events

During 2016, it is a primary program of Community Celebration of Place to transfer their collection into archives that will be open to the public for generations to come.

Popular "Prairie Home Companion" Guitarist and Songwriter Pat Donohue and Gospel Singer Tonia Hughes Join Larry Long and Robert Robinson at The Dakota For Two Shows November 20

In celebration of Give to the Max Day 2015, Larry Long will be performing songs written in honor of elders with community members. Larry’s performance will capture the many cultures of Minnesota. All proceeds from his performance will go to Community Celebration of Place.

Teacher Resources

We've compiled all the songs and stories from the celebrations for the 2006-2007 school year into two songbooks, and are excited to offer them free to download from our site:

In Memoriam

Pat Bellanger, Awanakwe (Water Woman), passed away on April,2, 2015. A matriarch of the American Indian Movement, Ms. Bellanger shared her story with the students at Sanford Middle School in 2013. The kids wrote the song “Awanakwe” to honor her.

Learn more about Pat Bellanger