The Sandoz Society and the Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center are not one in the same. While the Sandoz Center houses collections belonging to the Sandoz Society, the Center is a landmark on the Chadron State College campus that features displays that celebrate the life and literature of Mari Sandoz as well as the culture of the High Plains.
The Sandoz Center celebrates the life and literature of Mari Sandoz while serving as a repository for the Mari Sandoz Heritage Society, housing its expansive Sandoz collections. However, the Center also displays many other exhibits presenting the rich history and culture of the High Plains region. The Sandoz Center also supports CSC’s academic programs including the Museum Studies program. The Center also provides educational activities for the region’s school teachers and students.
Mari was born on a homestead along the Niobrara River, now called the “River Place,” the first home of Mary and Jules Sandoz. Unfortunately, the buildings are no longer standing on the property. The land is still owned by relatives of the Sandoz family.
Mari is buried on the Sandoz homestead known as the “Orchard Place” or the “Sandhills Place,” the second home of Mary and Jules Sandoz, between Gordon and Ellsworth, Neb. The ranch has a caretaker and is still owned by the Sandoz family. Visitors are welcome to visit the gravesite during daylight hours, weather permitting. The roads to the gravesite are unpaved.
Old Jules is buried in the Greenwood Cemetery, the public cemetery, in Alliance Neb. His wife, Mary, and daughter Flora are also buried there.
No, the artifacts and materials are not the same. Mari Sandoz gave materials to the University of Nebraska – Lincoln between 1965 and 1966. These are the materials that she decided should be preserved. These consist, most notably, of her research cards. The materials in Chadron consist primarily of the contents of Mari’s apartment at the time of her death – manuscripts, clothing, and other 3 - dimensional objects.
Mari Sandoz was named Marie Suzette Sandoz when she was born and was called Marie by family and friends. When she married Wray Macumber, she took his last name. She went by Marie Macumber even after the couple divorced in 1919.
In a letter from literary agent Margaret Christie, dated June 27, 1929, Ms. Christie writes:
Now about your name – Mari Sandoz is by long odds the best writing name. I am inclined to feel that the transition could be made at once better than at any other time and that with a note of explanation under the title to any editor who knows Marie Macumber and on any script where it should be permanently kept, would quite cover the matter if used at this time.
From that day on, Marie Macumber was gone and Mari Sandoz was born. Mari is pronounced (Mar – ee) with equal emphasis on each syllable. Either Marie or Mari is correct.
Mari was married to neighboring rancher Wray Macumber for five years before divorcing him in 1919 and moving to Lincoln. Mari never married again and she did not have any children.
Mari was the eldest of six children. She had three younger brothers, Jules Jr., James, and Fritz. She also had two sisters, Flora and Caroline. All of Mari’s siblings have passed away, but many of her relatives still live in the region.
Mari wrote both fiction and non-fiction books and short stories. However, all her work is filled many historical facts. She is well-known for her diligence in finding the facts and also for her work to accurately portray Native Americans. But in all respects, Mari was artist in her craft.
Helen Winter Stauffer, author of Mari’s biography, said it best in her book, “She [Mari] spoke of using the same techniques for biography and for fiction, except that in biography one must keep as close to the actual story, the actual people, and the actual times as possible. Her nonfiction written as narrative story used facts and was faithful to them, but she concentrated on specific events and characters to bring out the drama.”
Many people have questions about their family’s connection to Mari and the Sandoz family. Research projects are ongoing to help others with these questions and others. The Sandoz Center also has many collections and exhibits open by appointment for people who would like to generate their own research.
First, thank you for considering the Center as a home for your item(s)! The Center’s collections focus on Mari Sandoz, Cattle Ranching, Native Americans, Chadron State College, and regional history. If your item does not fit one of those areas, the Center staff is willing to help you find a great home for your item(s).
If your item(s) do fall into one or more of those areas, the Center staff would be happy to speak with you about making a donation.
Financial donations help the Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center in many areas of operation, research, resources and much more. Here are some of the projects supported by endowments: