F.T. Gustavson: Honoring a Father and a Discovery
Luverne Gustavson (left) and Ruth Dyer (right) at the Minnesota's Greatest Generation exhibit at the History Center, 2009.
"This is a beautiful way to honor our father." These words by Ruth Gustavson Dyer, of Pocatello, ID, sum up the feelings she and her late sister, Luverne Gustavson experienced as they worked with the Minnesota Historical Society to create The F.T. Gustavson Fund for Museum Collections at the Minnesota Historical Society.
It was during the Great Depression of the 1930's that amateur archaeologist Frithiof Theodore Gustavson made one of Minnesota's most important discoveries. Working near Upper Hay Lake, north of Pequot Lakes, Gustavson carefully brought out of the earth a fully intact clay pot made by Woodland Indians during the Saint Croix period, roughly 1,400 years ago. The pot has a 5.5 gallon capacity and the exterior surfaces are punctuated and cord marked. The crisscross markings on the pot's lower exterior suggest that the maker of the pot thinned the walls by placing it in a bag made from milkweed or other natural fibers.
Mr. Gustavson's daughters, Luverne and Ruth, gave the pot to the Minnesota Historical Society where it could be studied by researchers and marveled at by museum visitors for its beautiful symmetry as they connect with those who used it centuries ago for cooking wild rice.
To honor their father's discovery and his lifelong interest in the field of archaeology and museums, Luverne and Ruth established an endowment fund at the Society in 1999. With a combination of both current and planned gifts, the sisters created the F. T. Gustavson Fund for Museum Collections. Their thoughtful and generous giving provides support to care for the Society's vibrant collections in perpetuity and to acquire new items for the collection, such as a contemporary Native American costume made in the 1980's by three generations of women for ceremonial dancing. The Society's collections are stronger today because of this enduring tribute Luverne and Ruth created to honor their father and his important discovery.