Martha Elliot has achieved something she never thought possible a few years ago. The Minoter was recently elected president of Sons of Norway, District 4. District 4 is composed of North Dakota, Montana, Alberta and Saskatchewan.
"I never, ever thought in 1990 when I joined that I would ever have an office, let alone the district president," said Elliot.
It is indeed an impressive achievement, but Elliot earned it by steadily rising through the ranks of Sons of Norway. She has attended every Sons of Norway convention since she enrolled in 1990 and previously served as an officer with the Zone Director. She was also Cultural Publicity Director and District Vice-president prior to obtaining the District 4 leadership. She was chosen District 4 president during a convention at Edmonton, Alberta.
Martha Elliot, Minot, was recently elected President, District 4, Sons of Norway. Elliot is seen here inside the Gol Stave Church Museum at Minot’s Scandinavian Heritage Park where she conducts tours for visitors.
There are nearly 60 Sons of Norway lodges and about 6,500 members in District 4. In all, Sons of Norway boasts a total of more than 54,000 members with lodges in the U.S., Canada and Norway.
"District 4 was organized in Devils Lake 98 years ago, Thor Lodge 67," said Elliot.
Elliot's grandparents were born and raised in Norway. They came to the U.S. in the early 1900s, settling near Rugby. Her grandmother was just 16 years old at the time.
"We learned Norwegian foods and language. I can't speak Norwegian anymore, but my grandparents always spoke to me in Norwegian and I answered them and we got along just fine," recalled Elliot.
Today Elliot continues her involvement with the Scandinavian Heritage Society. She regularly conducts tours of the Gol Stave Church Museum located at Minot's Scandinavian Heritage Park. She was one of the original contributors to the project and enjoys telling visitors about the church and its historic origin.
"My mission always is to spread the message of Norway. When I'm here in the church, I relay the mission of how this started and how many there were," said Elliot during a brief break in visitation to the church. "I just spread the story and culture of Norway."
The Sons of Norway's main purpose is the preservation of Norwegian heritage. It is a natural fit for Elliot. She says she hopes to lead the lodges by encouraging them to keep all forms of Norwegian heritage alive - everything from dress to folk dancing to language. She also realizes the importance of keeping youth involved and informed.
"Absolutely," responded Elliot when asked if youth had a role with Sons of Norway. "We have Young Vikings here in Minot. That's teaching the children 5, 10 years old the heritage of Norway. It's up to us to involve the youth because they are the future of the Sons of Norway."