Whether or not you had the pleasure of attending,
we hope the following documents will help give you an idea of the day's
events and their meaning for so many in our Scandinavian community.
Joining the festivities in honor of Scandinavian Heritage Day
, who was introduced as the newly appointed executive
director of Seattle's
. Nelson spoke and participated in the ribbon-cutting.
(For every immigrant's name added to the memorial's rune stones, LEIF
donated $10 to the building fund for the museum's new location on
Market Street in Ballard.
What’s the history of the
Leif Erikson statue?
The Leif Erikson statue was a gift to Seattle from the
Norwegian American community and originally unveiled during the Seattle
World’s Fair in June 1962. The Leif Erikson League, whose members are
now gone, formed an umbrella organization of local Scandinavian-American
groups and raised the funds. They gave it to the Port of Seattle, which
located it at Shilshole Marina and has maintained it since then. When
plans were made to renovate Shilshole Marina, the Port reported that
the public was very interested in the future of the statue and wanted
it to remain at Shilshole.
LEIF commissioned a new base for the existing statue
and a display of some 850 immigrants’
names. (More names were added in July 2010 and October 2014, for a total of
2,351.) The statue base is a large granite stone approximately six
feet high, in the middle of a plaza. It is encircled with upright, runic-like
stones, featuring authentic Viking carvings and plaques with the names
of immigrants, along with their home towns and years of immigration.
The base and tribute display were designed by internationally
grandson of the former pastor of Ballard First Lutheran Church, the
Rev. O. L. Haavik. Jay won a Norwegian Marshall Fund award to study
Viking art at the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo, Norway. Integrated with
the renovation project, this new setting for the statue is a compelling
For more information,
read our FAQ.
Who is the Leif Erikson International Foundation?
We are a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization. Our parent
group, the Leif Erikson Society, was formed to give a replica of Seattle’s
statue of Leif Erikson to Trondheim, Norway, in 1997 to commemorate
the city’s 1,000-year anniversary. After that, many of the same individuals
came together to create the Leif Erikson International Foundation (LEIF).
In 2000, LEIF helped fund a replica of the same statue for the farmstead
of Erik the Red and his son, Leif Erikson, in Brattahlid, Greenland,
to celebrate the millennial anniversary of Leif Erikson’s voyage to
America. Members of our group participated in the unveiling and our
president, Kristine Leander, gave an address to the invited guests,
which included the Danish Queen Margrethe and her retinue, the President
of Iceland, and the Prime Minister of Greenland, plus other dignitaries.
In 2000, LEIF also hosted an international conference on Vikings.
LEIF’s mission is to: 1) promote Leif Erikson as the
first recorded European to come to America; 2) promote Scandinavian
culture; and 3) build bridges between Scandinavians and Americans.
Why Scandinavian immigrants?
As a group, Scandinavians (Danes, Finns, Icelanders,
Norwegians, and Swedes) are one of the largest—if not the largest—immigrant
groups in Ballard. While Leif Erikson, the first recorded European to
set foot on American shores, represents all immigrants who travel to
new lands for freedom, opportunity and a future of hope, the tribute
is for the Scandinavian-American community.
Where can I read more?
For information about the project,
read our FAQ. You can also
or call LEIF president Kristine Leander at 206-778-1081.
Read about LEIF's immigration tribute project in the
Ballard News-Tribune and at Crosscut.
about the installation ceremony at the My Ballard blog. Enjoy this reminiscence from one
Norwegian-American mom who found four of her daughter's ancestors on the rune stones.
Or read this letter about one
man's tribute to his grandmother.