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						109.  Árgangur
109th  Year
Publications Mail Registration No. 1667
Inside this week:
Amma's penni...............................:.........................2
White Rock Ceremony............................................3
What was it like leaving lceland in 1876?...........4, 5
Stories from Vík..................................................5, 6
Novel makes a splash.............................................7
Archaelogical treasure............................................8
Föstudagur    10.   nóvember  1995
Friday,   10  November   1995
Númer 40
Number 40
Unexpected Visitor;
¦ The crew on an lcelandic boat,
Hafrafell, received an unexpected
visit recentty while on their way
back home from Flæmingjagrunni
with about 70 tons of frozen
shrimp. A falcon took shelter on
the ship about 250 nautical miles
south of Hvarf. The crew took the
falcon into their care and brought
him to Isafjörður. The falcon circled
for awhile over the ship before
touching down. It made a few
attempts to continue the flight, but
in the end he was too exhausted
and wet to continue the flight and
the crew were able to approach
him. They made an excellent shef-
ter for him from a cardboard box
and a net where he seemed con-
What are they
¦ These gentle and stately athletes
were among competitors at the
lcelandic Highland games, held last
month at Selfoss, where seven kilt
clad athtetes competed in five
events. These three were caught
on film while practicing at the
Laugardals grounds, they are:
Auðunn Jónsson, weight lifter;
Magnús Ver Magnússon, the
world's strongest man, and Jón
Sigurjónsson, hammer thrower. The
champions threw stones, hammers,
sledges, and poles — Scottish style.
Also taking part with the gentle
threesome were; Hjalti Úrsus Árna-
son, Torfi Ólafsson, Bjarki Viðarson
and Guðmundur O. Sigurðsson.
V^              GUNNUR  ISFBLD             \J
Remembering the White Rock
^^^¦Where are many places in
r M Manitoba that have an
\^-.m important and highly sym-
\_W bolic importance to the
Western Icelandic commu-
nity in North America. The very fact that
Manitoba was the location of what used
to be called New Iceland, a semi-
autonomous community existing within
the territorial confines of Canada is per-
haps the most important of them, but
there are many others as is evidenced by
the abundance of historical markers in
the Interlake identifying historic sites of
significance to the Icelandic tradition
here. On the grounds of the Manitoba
legislature in Winnipeg there is even a
statue in honour of Jón Sigurðsson, the
Father of Icelandic Independence; each
year on June 17 a ceremony is held at the
statue in honour of the man and the free-
dom for Iceland that he was so instru-
mental in achieving.
Another highly symbolic place, one
that is powerfully emotional in its con-
notations, is Willow Point. When the
Icelanders arrived in Manitoba in the
1870s, they came first to Winnipeg.
Some of them chose to stay in that city,
but most elected to travel up to Lake
Winnipeg where land had been set aside
for them. There, they had decided, was
land suitable for the lifestyle that they
knew. There was better land available in
Manitoba, but they were not grain farm-
ers. What they understood was sheep
and cattle farming and fishing and the
Interlake offered good conditions for
The first group travelled down the
Red River to Lake Winnipeg on barges
towed by boats. When they reached the
lake, one of those vicious, sudden
storms that the lake is famous for struck
hard. Fearful that the weight of the
barges would sink the boat, the captain
is said to have cut them adrift. Storm-
tossed on the lake in Manitoba in
October — and the weather in
Manitoba can be cold and wild in
October — they were finally pushed
ashore at what is now known as Willow
Point. There they huddled against the
fury of the storm.
At the place where they landed, there
was a large white rock. That provided
some shelter from the wind, and in the
shelter of the White Rock, as it is now
officially called, in the middle of storm
and misery, the first Icelandic child to
be born in New Iceland arrived. (The
first Icelandic child to be born in North
America was, of course, Snorri Þorfinns-
son, who was born in Vínland almost
1,000 years before, the son of Þorfinn
Karlsefni, the first Icelander to actually
try to in North America.)
The child lived and his descendants
are part of the North American Icelandic
community today. The conditions of his
birth were an omen of what was to come
in the early years of the settlement of
New Iceland — hardship, penury, small-
pox, weather more extreme than any-
thing they had ever experienced and the
intense difficulties of carving out homes
in what was essentially a wilderness. As
the child lived and prospered, so too did
the settlers, eventually. People of
Icelandic descent have become impor-
tant and respected parts of communities
all over North America.
Just as there is at the Jón Sigurðsson
statue in Winnipeg, every year for a
long time there has been a ceremony at
the White Rock, which is now an his-
torical monument. Until this year, how-
ever, it had usually been a much smaller
affair. Two women made an annual pil-
grimage, walking over to Willow Point
to pay honor to the courage and the for-
titude of the settlers who landed there.
This year they were joined by many oth-
ers in what it is hoped will become a
larger annual affair.
On Page 3 of this issue you will find
a full account of that ceremony and pic-
tures. It is a remarkable tribute to the
tenacity of two women who understood
the importance of a place that many of
us had either ignored or forgotten; the
White Rock should be remembered and
honored annually in the years to come
as a symbol of the kind of courage and
tenacity that enabled the Icelandic cul-
ture and heritage to survive more than
100 years in North America as a strong
and cohesive group. Today that com-
munity faces threats of a different, less
physical kind, but no less a threat to its
survival for all that. The White Rock
stands today as a symbol that, if we
have the will, we can endure.
New lcelandic Association
is being formed
by Katrín Frimannsdóttir
Æ new Icelandic-American
g" Jm Association of Minnesota is
^"^ being established. We invite
you to a meeting to learn about and to
join in forming this organization. All
are welcome who have interest in
Iceland by heritage, by personal expe-
rience, through friends, business asso-
ciates, or through reading, video, and
film. This association will offer an
opportunity to meet one another, to
share common interests, to learn more
about Iceland's past and present, and
to foster our ties with Iceland.
An organizational meeting is set for
Tuesday, November 14, 1995 at 7:30
p.m. in the Nordic Center on the
Augsburg College campus in
Minneapolis. The Nordic Center house
is at 2400 Butler Place. Free parking is
available in the parking lot next áo
The majqr purpose qf_+v-
Association is to put those with inter-
est in Iceland in touch with one anoth-
er. We expect to do this through social
activities and through a regular
newsletter. ¦
Upcoming events now being con-
sidered are a December Jólabarnaball,
held in co-operation with the long-
established women's Icelandic Hekla
Club and a Þorrablót dinner and dance
in February. Events that could pro-
mote Icelandic businesses are also a
possibility. We invite you to share your
ideas for this organization and its
activities. And you will have an oppor-
tunity to become charter members.
Annual dues of the association will
be $10 per person or $15 per hou,;r
hold to cover mailings and r»*»'
costs. Election of ,oM
after the r*"»**
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