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Ken produced Hardship to Freedom in

partnership with the Ukrainian Cultural Institute in Dickinson, ND. After honing his skills in New York, Ken worked for 15 years in his studio in Phoenix, AZ. Today, Ken is back in North Dakota, continuing his career in commercial photography and documentary filmmaking.


About Agnes Palanuk:

Through tours to Ukraine and connecting with the ancestral villages, Agnes Palanuk completed the cycle of learning the history of North Dakota's Ukrainians. In 1979, she served as co-editor of "Echoing Trails : Billings County History" which earned the county first place in local history publication. She also served as founder of the North Dakota Ukrainian Cultural Institute and was awarded the Governor's Award for the Arts. Ms. Palanuk remains passionate about sharing the culture of the Ukrainian people, and the stories of the pioneers, with current and future generations. She continues to serve on the board of the UCI today.


Hardship to Freedom is available for purchase on DVD, through the Ukrainian Cultural Institute in Dickinson, ND. Pricing is $25 for one copt, $20 ea for two or more.


Please call or write:


Ukrainian Cultural Institute

1221 West Villard Street

Dickinson, ND 58601

(701) 483-1486

Hardship to Freedom

A Documentary by Ken Howie


Hardship to Freedom celebrates the spirit of the Ukrainian pioneers and their immigration to North Dakota in the early 1900s.


In the beginning of the 20th century, after more than 200 years of Russian rule, a great part of the population of Ukraine continued to be suppressed to serfdom. Hardship to Freedom, a sixty-minute documentary, illustrates a focus on the population of Ukrainian immigrants who homesteaded on the prairie of western North Dakota in the early 1900s to pursue their dreams as citizens of the United States.  These immigrants, primarily farm workers and merchants, were enticed by the offer of free land available through the Homestead Act of 1862.


Inspired by recordings and the book Ukrainians in North Dakota In Their Voices, written by Agnes Palanuk, Hardship to Freedom features stories in the voices of these Ukrainian pioneers. Recordings conducted by Ms. Palanuk in the 1980s of western North Dakota residents are combined with new video interviews captured by Ken Howie. The residents were raised on these homesteads, many of which are celebrating 100 year anniversaries. The stories from the interviews are first hand accounts of the experiences that describe the hardships that became payment for the freedom the Ukrainians sought. These stories represent the determination of people forced to prosper on marginal agricultural plots of land in what was possibly the harshest environment of the circa 1910 United States.


Hardship to Freedom also explores how this colorful culture from another hemisphere has survived a century of time, encapsulating the treasure in which the state of North Dakota has shown pride.  The documentary further illustrates how the local Ukrainian culture continues to thrive by interacting with the educational community and the state of North Dakota.



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