January 14, 2021
The Nebraska congressional delegation released the following statements after legislation renaming Homestead National Monument in Gage County, Nebraska, as Homestead National Historical Park was signed into law. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) introduced the bill, S. 1910, with support from Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE). The House companion bill, H.R.1472, was introduced by Rep. Adrian Smith (NE-03) with support from Reps. Jeff Fortenberry (NE-01) and Don Bacon (NE-02). The bill passed the House in November 2019, passed the Senate in December 2020, and was signed into law by President Trump on Wednesday, January 13.
"Nebraskans have always been defined by hard work and grit. Our ancestors who lived and worked on the prairie endured a whole lot, and the Homestead National Historic Park will teach this history to Americans for decades. I am glad to see this change more accurately reflect our history and I am tremendously proud to have worked alongside Congressman Smith to get this done," said Senator Sasse.
“Places like the Homestead National Historical Park bring American history alive and allow us a look into our past. Renaming this facility to more accurately reflect this location gives a clearer picture of the opportunities and hands-on learning experience available,” said Rep. Smith. “Our state has a rich history and learning about it has never been easier thanks to innovative projects such as this one. I thank everyone involved in this effort, particularly Friends of Homestead, Congressman Fortenberry for drafting the first version of this bill when Homestead was located in the First District, and Senator Sasse for his efforts to move this through the Senate. Nebraskans are rightfully proud of our role in settling the great plains, and I look forward to seeing the future success of this National Historical Park.”
“Nebraska is forever linked to our homesteading ancestors, who populated this country and imparted to future generations a lasting spirit of courage, tenacity, and achievement. Homestead celebrates the spirit of those hardy, visionary individuals who understood the appeal of life on the Great Plains and who helped reshape the American landscape. This small but important change from Homestead National Monument to Homestead National Historical Park will more accurately reflect the nature and mission of this unique National Park Service unit,” said Rep. Fortenberry.
“I’m pleased to see Rep. Smith’s Homestead National Historical Park bill, which renames Homestead National Monument in Gage County, Nebraska as Homestead National Historical Park, was signed into law by President Trump,” said Rep. Bacon. “This national park will give Americans the opportunity to learn about our nation’s history and the Homestead Act, and to experience Nebraska’s beautiful trails, prairies, and rich farmland.”
“The Homestead National Monument is one of Nebraska’s treasures that I have always enjoyed visiting. Our legislation, which recognizes it as a National Historic Park, will now ensure that this park and the story it tells about homesteading on the prairie reach even more Nebraskans and Americans,” said Senator Fischer.
“The Friends of Homestead have had the changing of the name of our Homestead National Monument of America as a goal for many years. It has been our vision that the name Homestead National Historical Park would be a better reflection of how the park tells its story through walking trails, through the museum, through the log cabin and through the programs that are provided year-round. It is truly a historical park.
“We are happy that this name change will now happen. We have many people to thank that assisted us in this name change. First, the Friends of the Homestead board of directors for their continued work to get this accomplished. Congressman Adrian Smith and his staff for meeting with us and championing this effort in Washington with the House of Representatives and to Senator Ben Sasse and his staff for his efforts in the U.S. Senate. And to all members of the Nebraska Congressional delegation for their support.
“Locally, many individuals and organizations assisted us. Special thanks to Superintendent Mark Engler and the staff at the Homestead National Monument; Stan Wirth, mayor of Beatrice; the Beatrice City Council; the Gage County Board of Supervisors; the Beatrice Chamber of Commerce; Main Street; and former director Walker Zulkoski and Gage County N-Gage. Also the assistance of State Senator Myron Dorn is greatly appreciated.”
“We have worked for years to get this accomplished and now can say we have accomplished the name change that will correctly identify what our national park entails here in Southeast Nebraska!” – Rich Hovendick, Vice President of the Friends of Homestead
The Homestead Act of 1862, signed into law by President Lincoln, allowed American citizens to earn ownership of a portion of the vast public lands in the western United States that was owned by the federal government. Ultimately the federal government granted titles to 10 percent of the land in the United States through this program. The Homestead National Historical Park located near Beatrice, Nebraska, commemorates the first claim under the Homestead Act. Homestead National Historical Park consists of a heritage museum, the Freeman School, a tall grass prairie, hiking trails, a forest, and farming demonstrations.