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New York Tartan Week to Open with “Scots in the American West
Scots in the American West

13th Annual Tartan Day on Ellis Island Runs March 28-30, 2014

New York, NY – “Tartan Day on Ellis Island” – the nation’s largest Tartan Day celebration – returns for its 13th annual observance with the opening of “Scots in the American West.” The exhibition, produced by Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Cody, Wyoming opens on Friday, March 28 and runs through Sunday, March 30. The exhibition documents the individual accomplishments of Scots in the American West.

Ellis Island

“Tartan Day on Ellis Island” is produced by the Clan Currie Society – one of the country’s leading Scottish heritage organizations.

The Ellis Island event will open NY Tartan Week – a two-week festival of all things Scottish, including a musical military tattoo, the Dressed to Kilt Scottish fashion show, Whisky Live – whisky tastings, a gala dinner with the National Trust for Scotland – USA Foundation, a Scottish run in Central Park and the Tartan Day Parade.

Scots in the American West

In the late 1600s, Glasgow was the European center for the Virginia tobacco trade, and Scots Presbyterian dissenters in search of religious freedom established their own colonies in South Carolina and New Jersey. In the 1700s, population growth, agricultural modernization, and political upheaval in Scotland were the driving forces behind more than 50,000 immigrants crossing the Atlantic, and, as the new Republic looked West toward the end of the century, many of the earliest “over-mountain men” settling the Ohio and Tennessee valleys were of Scots or Scots-Irish descent. It is little wonder then that in the 1800s as the United States expanded into the areas we now think of as the American West, Scots were so much to the fore.

Scots in the American West

Their stories reflect the collective contributions of the Scottish impact on the extensive and dynamic history of the American West. Scots endured a land with an unforgiving climate and rugged terrain. Theirs was a violent land defended by native people protecting themselves from cattle thieves, feuding families, and outside invaders. Over many generations, Scots suffered through battles and massacres. These were people accustomed to taking risks, overcoming obstacles, and starting new lives. Their characteristics shaped their own country as well as the distant lands that became their new homes—including North America.

Buffalo Bill in Dundee, Scotland.

The exhibition also explores the profound impact of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show made on the people of Scotland during his European tours which took place in 1891-2 and in 1904.

Commenting on the exhibition’s journey from Cody, Wyoming to Washington, DC and now to Ellis Island, exhibition curator Jeremy Johnston remarked, “How wonderful that this important exhibition has found its way to Ellis Island – the Golden Door to America for so many Scottish and Irish immigrants and place of their first steps of their journey to the American West.”

Scots in the American West is made possible by the Bill Center of the West, Naoma Tate and the family of Hal Tate, the LDS Church History Museum, Marjorie Stewart, the Clan Currie Society, the National Trust for Scotland Foundation-USA, the New York Tartan Week Alliance, Smithsonian Institution and the University of Stathclyde.

Celebrate Tartan Day with Music and Dance

A regular feature of all the Tartan Day on Ellis Island celebrations will be music and dance and the 2014 program will be no exception. Tartan Day on Ellis Island will also play host to some of the finest Scottish entertainment in New York City, including the Rampant Lion Pipe Band, New York Brogue – Celtic music ensemble, and the NY Celtic Dancers.

Visit www.tartandayonellisisland.com for additional information. Follow exhibit plans and preparations on Facebook and Twitter, @ClanMhuirich.

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