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Family Radio Network

The Public Record

Aired: 4/23, 2011

The Local Record program, hosted by Jenny Goodell of the Family Radio Network, interviewed our own Mike Thelen about The Drifting Goose Rendezvous, aired on KQKD, 1380 AM on 4/23. For more information about the Network, access www.familyradio.com. The audio file is located here, but you probably need Windows 7 and Media Player v12 to access it at this time.

Family Radio Network

The Public Record

Aired: 1/15 and 2/26, 2011

The Local Record program, hosted by Jenny Goodell of the Family Radio Network, had the privilege to interview our own Mike Thelen about The Dacotah Territory Muzzleloaders; Preserving the History of the Pre-1840s Today for airing on Aberdeen & Redfield radio stations KKAA, 1560 AM and KQKD, 1380 AM on February 26th & January 15th, respectively. For more information about the Network, access www.familyradio.com. The audio file is located here, but you probably need Windows 7 and Media Player v12 to access it at this time.

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Aberdeen American News (SD)



Jeff Bahr, Jbahr@aberdeennews.com

Published: May 28, 2010

If you drive 15 miles south of Aberdeen this weekend, you'll go back 170 years in time.

The Drifting Goose Rendezvous, which will unfold near Mansfield, is meant to duplicate a gathering from 1840. Participants will shoot shotguns, smoothbores, rifles and pistols at targets. They'll also shoot arrows and throw tomahawks and knives.

The third annual event runs today through Monday. The public is invited to attend Saturday and Sunday. The rendezvous is sponsored by the Dacotah Territory Muzzle Loaders of Aberdeen.

When things get started, nothing that's newer than 1840 should be visible, says Mike Thelen, who is secretary of the Dacotah Territory Muzzle Loaders. Items of newer vintage are allowed on the grounds, but they are expected to remain in tents.

If a modern ketchup bottle is spotted on a table, the owner will be politely asked to remove it. All of the food this weekend will be prepared in cast iron cookware.

About 20 groups will have camps at the rendezvous, which takes place at the group's club range. The land is owned by Lance Fuhrman of Mellette.

John Graves, who arrived Thursday with his wife, Sue, enjoys nature and visiting with friends he hasn't seen in a year.

Graves, who is vice president of the muzzle loaders group, also likes shooting.

"John's a very competitive black powder shooter, and if I can outshoot him, I really rub it in," Sue said.

At the rendezvous, Graves wears pants he made from buffalo leather. He recently finished an elk shirt --- "Kevin Costner would love to have that one," he said --- and a belt for his wife, which is adorned with 9,464 beads.

"If he had a skinny wife, it wouldn't be so much," Sue said, joking.

The rendezvous is open to the public Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Observing the activities is free.

To get to the site, drive 15 miles south of Aberdeen on U.S. Highway 281. Turn west at the Mansfield sign. After one mile on 148th Street, go one mile north on 385th Avenue, which is a gravel road.

The rendezvous is named in honor Drifting Goose, a Hunkpati chief who lived from 1821 to 1909. "His home base was 6 miles straight east of here," right on the James River, Thelen said.

In the fall, the muzzle loaders put on the Sweetwater Rendezvous 10 miles east of Conde.

People are expected this weekend from Aberdeen, Cresbard, Chelsea, Gary, Ferney, Webster, Bristol, Florence, Mobridge, Selby and Ellendale, and Jamestown, N.D.

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Published: May 22, 2009
Copyright (c) 2009 Aberdeen American News


   Russ Keen
About 30 years ago, when R. John Thelen of rural Mansfield was about 30 years old, he bought his first kit to build a muzzleloader. "I just happened to pick one up," said Thelen, 60. "I've always been interested in shooting sports of all kinds."

That particular purchase led him to a new interest: U.S. history, especially pre-1840, when muzzleloaders were as common as iPods are today. For the uninitiated, a muzzle is the open end of a gun and a muzzleloader is a gun that's loaded with gunpowder through the muzzle.

Next thing Thelen knew, he and three other area men founded the Dacotah Territory Muzzle Loaders in 1979. The group, with about 30 individual or family members, invites the public to help observe the 30th anniversary by stopping by the group's second annual Drifting Goose Rendezvous historical re-enactment this weekend near Mansfield.

Visitors are welcome from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or so on Saturday and Sunday, Thelen said. From Aberdeen, go south on U.S. Highway 281 to the Brown County/Spink County line and turn right on the road that goes to Mansfield. Go one mile west on that road and then one mile north to the rendezvous campgrounds and shooting range.

"I just enjoy myself there," Thelen said. "You get away from the 21st century - no cell phones, no TV, no radio."

All attire, dwellings and activities at the rendezvous are pre-1840. Events include a shotgun competition, tomahawk throw, frying-pan throw and primitive archery.

Participants can bring modern items such as wristwatches and coolers, but they must be hidden from view, Thelen said. These rules do not apply to those who stop to visit. There's no admission charge for visitors. Those who participate as camping re-enactors or competitors pay fees to cover costs, Thelen said.

Thelen lives just a few miles from the rendezvous site, which is part of the area occupied by American Indian Chief Drifting Goose and the people he led. Drifting Goose lived from 1821 to 1909. For more on the chief and on the rendezvous group, visit www.dacotahterritorymuzzleloaders.com.

It's called a rendezvous because that was the name given to a major gathering in the area of trappers and fur buyers in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Buyers would come by wagon train from St. Louis to meet trappers near the Missouri River in Dakota Territory, Thelen said. The annual trading was usually in July, he said.

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Posted on Fri, Sep. 15, 2006
Dacotah Territory Muzzleloaders celebrating its 25th rendezvous
From Staff Reports

The Dacotah Territory Muzzleloaders are celebrating more than 25 years of existence this year. Established in 1979 by four individuals who loved camping, fishing, canoeing and black-powder rifles, the Dacotah Territory Muzzleloaders have been having outdoor fun ever since.

This weekend, the non-profit, social organization will be celebrating its 25th annual Sweetwater Rendezvous near Bristol. Events include shoots, hawk and knife throws, skillet toss, and a pre-1840 primitive bow shoot. Traders are welcome and primitive dress is required. The shooting fee for non-campers is $5 and there is a camping fee of $15. There will be a chili feed tonight and a free breakfast for campers on Saturday morning. The event, which starts at noon Friday, concludes Sunday.

The grounds are located from Bristol: 2 miles south, 1 west, 6 south, 6 west, 2 south and west; from Conde: 4 north, 10 east, 1 south and west; from Verdon, 2 south, 10 east, 1 south and west. The land where the rendezvous is held is owned by club members George and Alice Bartell of Webster. "Being outdoors, camping, hunting and talking about guns," said George Bartell when asked what he liked about being a member of the club. "The family things we do makes the club grow. It's family-oriented. Overall, it's just fun."

Bartell, a club member since 1982, said the club has a role in retelling history. He said many members do important research that helps tell the story of the people who came to this part of the country to settle it. He also pointed out that the club has many talented members who make some of their own gear, such as their clothing, for outings.

While there are individual members, the club has always encouraged family membership. Throughout the years, the club has been very active, participating in centennial celebrations, festivals and various other events. Club members have participated in the Fort Sisseton Historical Festival since its creation more than 25 years ago. The club has also been active in regional and national rendezvous for more than two decades.

Rendezvousing is defined as a pre-1840 fur trade era gathering. The principal is basic: If they had it in that era, club members can have it at a rendezvous. Some examples:
• Clothing is cut of calico, leather, wool or any other pre-1840 material in frontier patterns.
• Wood is standard material for chairs, kitchens and clothes boxes.
• Lodges are made out of canvas or hide.
• Rifles and handguns must be either percussion cap or flint.
• Iron fire grates and tools, cast iron pots and pans and tomahawks are standard camp items.
• All cooking is done over open fire.
• All food and beverages are served in pottery, bone, wood, brass, copper or pewter dinnerware.
• Modern-day coolers and bedding are allowed, but must remain out of sight.

This hobby can be as easy or hard on your budget as you want it to be over time. Club membership dues are $10 a year for individuals and $15 for families. As people become more involved, they can acquire things such as a lodge from $50 to $2,000 or more, a muzzleloading rifle from $75 to $1,500 or more and a tomahawk from $15 to $250.

The club meets the first Monday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at the Millstone Restaurant in Aberdeen. It also holds a Cabin Fever party during the winter and canoe trips on the James River. The club holds regular shoots the third Sunday of each month except for September, October and November. Club details: president John Graves at (605) 225-3582; vice president Jim Diestel at (605) 226-3661; secretary John Thelen at (605) 887-3211; or treasurer Pete Mattson at (605) 225-8845.

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From "Storybook Land" at Aberdeen Parks - Storybook Land History ...Beginning in 1981, the Aberdeen Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department in cooperation with Alexander Mitchell Library, the Boy and Girl Scouts, the Boys and Girls Club, Aberdeen Family Y and the Aberdeen Area Arts Council hosted the Youth Heritage Arts Festival. The Festival featured the rich history and culture of the prairie pioneers. The goal of the event was to provide educational and recreational experiences for young and old alike, and travel back in time through the various changes that took place on the prairie. Festival activities included games, demonstrations by artists, crafts, home arts, and demonstrations by groups such as the Dacotah Territory Muzzleloaders and Dacotah Prairie Museum. The event was so popular, it became an annual event. The Aberdeen Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department won a national award in 1994 from the National Recreation and Park Association recognizing the Youth Heritage Arts Festival. The award was the Dorothy Mullen Arts and Humanities Award, which recognize programs that take an innovative approach to the arts, humanities and recreation. Efforts continued on the development of the Land of Oz in 1995. The Aunt Em character was sponsored by Wal-Mart and Gelinda the Good Witch character was sponsored by Aman Collection Service, Tom and Danielle Aman, and Dan and Ardis Moen. The K.O. Lee Company sponsored the construction of the Tin Man’s House and Tin Man character. On May 31, 1995, the South Dakota National Guard hauled 127 cubic yards of rock from the Crazy Horse Monument near Custer to the Land of Oz. The rock came from blasting at the monument and will be used to riprap the stream in Munchkin Land. ...A new Land of Oz tradition began in 1997. The First Annual L. Frank Baum Festival was held at Wylie Park. The festival included various Chautauqua events, strolling storytellers and Oz characters, Wizard of Oz memorabilia and live theatre productions of the play “The Wizard of Oz”. The festival was a great success with several thousand people attending...

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