Horndiplomat-Hawa Aden (in blue) and Amina Shire, both of Minneapolis, help each other tie a tree branch brought in from Somalia. They are making a traditional Somali hut used by nomadic farmers generations past. Doualy Xaykaothao | MPR News
Her interpreter, Amine Muse, who is also the education coordinator for the Somali Museum of Minnesota, explained that once the hut’s skeleton is made, the women work on the inside, weaving traditional mats.
“You put that on top,” she said. “From the outside it looks just like grass, but inside you can see the patterns and colors.”
As rain started to fall, another elder Somali woman, Hawa Aden, explained how to put the branches together, stretching rope and wet leather around every part of the wood. It’s not an easy task, and bending the wood requires real strength.
Osman Mohamed Ali, president of the museum, said this is how his people used to live. “We don’t want this kind of culture to get eliminated or die,” he said.
The Somali Museum of Minnesota is still trying to find a permanent home. Founded just three years ago, the museum has a collection of about 700 artifacts, housed on the lower level of Plaza Verde off Lake Street in Minneapolis.
“You can take Somali traditional dance, you can learn weaving,” Ali said. “The first class, all white people. … Last class, they were half and half.”
In other words, knowledge of Somali culture is for both Somali-Americans and those wishing to know more about their neighbors.