Somali dance and weaving featured at Minnesota History Center

The Minnesota Historical Society is celebrating Somali culture at the Minnesota History Center.

Following the civil war that broke out in Somalia in 1991, large numbers of immigrants began arriving in Minnesota and today the state is home to the largest population of Somalis in the United States.

Through the migration process, traditional life ways are often disrupted. But Somalis in Minnesota are working to preserve and share their cultural traditions including Somali dance and weaving.

On Tuesday (Jan. 8), from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. the Somali Museum Dance Troupe will lead a free Traditional Somali Dance Night. The troupe will teach dances like the Jaandheer, which means big leap or step. The dance originates in northern Somalia and is danced at most Somali weddings and festive occasions. The young men and women of the Somali Museum Dance Troupe study and perform traditional dances from all regions of Somalia. The dancers are high school and college students passionate about sharing their culture.

On March 19 from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. visitors can take part in a free Somali weaving workshop. Women design and build the traditional nomadic house called an Aqal Soomaali, including using a finger weaving technique to create colorful mats that cover their homes. In this workshop participants will learn weaving basics from some of the women who built the Aqal Soomaali for the exhibit, Ardho Ismail, Amina Shire, and Halwa Aden.

These programs are suitable for all ages and for Somali and non-Somali alike.

“Somalis + Minnesota” is created in partnership with the Somali Museum of Minnesota to tell the story of Somali immigrants, their arrival in their newly adopted home of Minnesota and the successes and struggles they have faced. It is on view through June 9.

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