By CHRISTOPHER DIEM, Journal Staff Writer
MARQUETTE — How long does somebody have to live in the Upper Peninsula to be considered a Yooper?
That’s one of the questions being asked by the Marquette County History Museum this month as it prepares to open a public dialogue on everything Yooper. The museum is preparing an exhibit, “Anatomy of a Yooper,” which will highlight the tenacious and innovative people who call the U.P. home.
“There is something really unique that we all share. There is a camaraderie, there is a sense of place that you don’t get in large parts of the United States,” said Kaye Hiebel, the museum’s executive director.Museum Curator,Jo DeYoung-Patrie is asking local residents to donate or loan artifacts and photographs to the museum as well as share their stories.
The museum is interested in photos and stories of people coping with the weather, Hiebel said, or how people recycle old objects into something useful.“People have taken slats from a barrel and made snowshoes or skis out of them,” she said. “Those are the things that we call Finnish know-how, but it is the ultimate act of recycling.”Hiebel said a lot of what makes a Yooper a Yooper comes from the Finnish word, “sisu.”
“In the face of trying times or situations it’s that tenacious spirit that allows you to suck it up and get on with it,” she said. “From the time that farmers first came here and were farming nothing but rocks you had to have that tenacity in the face of all kinds of weather and other things here to really appreciate the beauty of it.”
The museum will display the exhibit in April. It’s planning committee for the project includes Jim DeCaire, head of Da Yoopers musical comedy troupe; Buck LeVasseur of television’s “Discovering”; Jon Saari, a retired professor from Northern Michigan University who has studied U.P. camps and the tradition of going to camp; and others.
“The interest in the U.P. is huge in other parts of the country,” Hiebel said. “There’s something here. I want to know what that is, besides the obvious. I want to hear those stories, the people and the stories makes it all that much more interesting.”
For more information, call the museum at (906) 226-3571. Area residents can also submit stories to The Mining Journal through the virtual newsroom at www.miningjournal.net under the “historical society” category.
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