A Brief History of the Ukrainian Cultural Institute

The Ukrainian Cultural Institute was organized by the North Dakota Ukrainians in 1980.  Its organization was prompted by a desire to preserve the Ukrainian culture in North Dakota.  President of Dickinson State University, Dr. Albert A. Watrel participated with the Ukrainian community in developing the guidelines needed to meet the aims of the proposed organization.


On May 30, 1980, the Ukrainian community and Dickinson State University signed an agreement which read:  "Memorandum of Agreement between the Ukrainian Community and Dickinson State College for the purpose of establishing a Ukrainian Cultural Institute which is dedicated for the furthering of education through the preserving, promoting, and displaying of the Ukrainian Culture".  Dated this 31st Day of May, 1980.

Memorandum of Agreement between the Ukrainian Community and Dickinson State College (now Dickinson State University).

The document shown above was signed then president of UCI, Agnes Palanuk, and Dr. Albert Watrel, then president of DSU.

As UCI grew, a building was purchased on Villard Street in Dickinson to house the Institute's administrative office, gift shop and the Marie Halyn Bloch Library.  A large kitchen serves well for the production of pyrohy, made available to the general public through local grocery stores, and by direct purchase at the UCI. The building also offers space for Lenten Lunches, UCI's board meetings, choir practices, and other events throughout the year.


Also in the 1980's, with assistance from DSU history professors, Dr. Michael Soper and Dr. Russell Veeder, UCI was awarded a grant to interview Ukrainian immigrants. The text was transcribed and recorded on CD's.  These recordings became a resource for Ken Howie's film "Hardship to Freedom" (2014) and Agnes Palanuk's book "North Dakota's Ukrainians : In Their Voices".  Both the film and book are available through the Ukrainian Cultural Institute.