The Fundraising Project
FAHF seeks to publish an illustrative, foldout map brochure of 24 French and French-Canadian heritage sites in Minnesota. This project proposal is approved by FAHF's Board of Directors in support of its mission. Our website is fahfminn.org. Our purpose is to promote multidisciplinary on-site visitation and remote learning in a way that expands public awareness and understanding. The project will include new, original illustrations and descriptions of the 24 statewide sites listed and their significance to French heritage in Minnesota, pooled into four categories, namely, places of learning and commerce, natural places and forts, homesteads, and places of faith and culture.
Need and Rationale
The French and French-Canadian contribution to the cultural, economic and social development of Minnesota is not well understood, nor fully integrated into private and public tourism initiatives nor included in the framework of secondary public education. Not one of the 50 questions on the current public school Minnesota Civics Test asks about any Minnesota-specific aspect of immigration in the 17th and 18th centuries, or about Minnesota geography.
FAHF was founded to bring more attention to the diverse heritage and culture of historically French language groups including: Haitian, Cajun, Belgium, North and West African, French, French Huguenots, Vietnamese and any of the other French-speaking countries in the world, particularly the French Canadians who were a major settlement group in Minnesota. This is the niche we seek to help fill, and in the process to complement, rather than compete with others, with related interests but a different focus.
For almost two hundred years before Minnesota became a state, French was the primary European language spoken here. After becoming a state, and during the early years of European settlement, many French Canadians migrated here, and at least 79 French-speaking towns and communities were formed in Minnesota. French-speaking ancestors in Minnesota and surrounding states were important in all sectors of society, and they helped build our state and region into what it is today. To remember and to celebrate these significant historical contributions, the French-American Heritage Foundation commissioned an artist to draw 24 original illustrations depicting some French heritage sites in Minnesota. All of the drawings in the brochure were created by artist Harriet Jean McFarlane. The total estimated cost to produce this brochure will be $5,000 (which includes the artist commission and production services).
Much of this history was discarded, or was suppressed, especially after the French and Indian War (ended 1763), the 1804 Louisiana Purchase, and the U.S. Dakota War of 1862. By 1918, only four public elementary schools in Minnesota taught French as a primary language. World War I wartime “English-only” culture advocacy efforts in Minnesota, including those of the University of Minnesota College of Education, also made it challenging for the teaching of French to survive, even as France was a wartime ally. Today, French-speaking first-generation Minnesotans from the Caribbean and Asia are largely unaware of our region's four centuries of diverse French heritage, which included free French-speaking African-American entrepreneurs prior to Minnesota statehood.
The year 2019 marks 360 years since the first French explorers Pierre-Espirit Radisson and Médard Chouart des Groseilliers arrived on the eastern shores of Minnesota along Lake Superior. However, little is universally taught in school history courses about the French contribution to Minnesota culture, other than passing references as part of broader discussions of European influence, at times in a negative context. French Canadians were a major settlement group in Minnesota that interacted in positive, respectful ways with Native cultures, but this dimension is sometimes overlooked in historical narratives, or labeled simply by description as “voyageurs.”
How the Funds will be Used
The majority of the funds we are seeking to raise ($3,000) will be used to pay the artist, Harriet Jean McFarlane. Harriet Jean McFarlane, known as Jean, is a professional artist residing in Maple Grove who created the illustrations being used in the Heritage Brochure. She has painted original works in Minnesota since the 1980s. Her works will be original color watercolors that depict each site within its historical context. The remaining funds will be used to pay for the cost of formatting the brochure and printing copies.
Mark G. Dillon, Project Director and FAHF Board Secretary. He is a writer and strategic communications consultant in Minnetonka, with more than 20 years of related private and public sector experience, Dillon has an M.S. degree in Journalism from Northwestern University, and a B.A. in Communications from Fordham University. Dillon is also 1st Vice President of the Czechoslovak Genealogical Society International.
Gregory Cash is an FAHF board member and will provide volunteer/in-kind marketing and content input/review for the brochure and website. A senior executive in the medical device industry, one of Cash's ancestors, Médard Chouart de Groseilliers, was a voyageur and fur trader as well as one of the first two documented non-Native Americans in Minnesota along with Pierre Esprit Radisson. Cash is involved with the Voyageurs program of Concordia Language Villages and speaks French, German and Italian. He is a member of the Concordia Language Villages National Advisory Council and the University of Minnesota Office for Technology Commercialization Advisory Board, and a member of the French American Chamber of Commerce of Minneapolis/St. Paul Key Opinion Leader Advisory Board. Cash holds a B.A. in International Marketing and Business Administration from the College of St. Thomas.
Jerry Foley, Authorized Officer, is FAHF's Treasurer. An avid student of Canadian history and genealogy, he is the author of MINNESOTA, EH? A Foley/Perras Family History. With a Canadian cousin, he created a genealogy of the family of George Fallu, his great-great-grandfather and the first mayor of Nouvelle, Quebec.
Harriet Jean McFarlane is a professional artist residing in Maple Grove who will complete the illustrations for the brochure and FAHF website on a consulting basis. She has painted original works in Minnesota since the 1980s. Her works will be original color watercolors that depict each site within its historical context.
Mark Petty is an FAHF board member and the FAHF website administrator. He will provide website technical support and develop the interactive elements of the map. Petty is an attorney editor at Thomson Reuters and a volunteer translator for The Advocates for Human Rights. He received the 2014 volunteer award from The Advocates for Human Rights. He studied French, Spanish and mathematics at the University of North Dakota, and law at the University of North Dakota School of Law.
The French-American Heritage Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable non-profit organization with the primary purpose of promoting and sponsoring French-heritage events in Minnesota. Our Mission Statement:
To preserve and promote the French-American heritage in Minnesota through education and community events.
French-language heritage has played a paramount role in the history of Minnesota. It is important and proper that this heritage be celebrated and remembered. The French-American Heritage Foundation:
- Maintains a website and a Facebook page focused on French-language heritages
- Sponsors educational events focused on French heritage
- Sponsors educational materials and books about French heritage
- Posts Minnesota French-American family history and genealogy to our website
- Provides scholarships for French language and culture studies