In 2010, the Defeat of Jesse James Days Bank Raid Re-enactment was held in English, Spanish and was interpreted for the hearing impaired.
This year’s raid was held in English and featured an expanded American Sign Language interpretation. A Spanish version, however, was not part of this year’s event.
Once several Northfield community members realized the absence of a Spanish translation from this year’s celebration, the DJJD Committee received dozens of emails questioning why.
“There are so many Hispanic people in Northfield,” Christopher Tassava, a Northfield resident, told Northfield Patch. “This is the central social event of the year, it would be such a nice symbol of inclusivity.”
Now, according to the DJJD Committee, another go at a Spanish-translated re-enactment is in the works for the future.
How we got here
Last year’s Spanish translation re-enactment was originally planned for Friday evening, but was moved to Saturday after Friday’s event was rained out, said Chip DeMann, longtime Raider and re-enactment leader.
“It was moved to 1—not a good time to do what was essentially a rehearsal,” DeMann said. The 1 p.m. Saturday show is traditionally one of the busiest re-enactments of the weekend.
Logistical issues plagued the event as well, added DJJD Committee Chair Shelley Brady.
“It took way too long for anybody to sit through,” she said.
As for this year’s translation, Brady said with new events—like the soap box derby and mounted shooting show—added to this year’s festivities, “we were not prepared (for the Spanish interpretation). Time ran out on us to get it done.”
While the lack of a Spanish translation sparked plenty of conversation this year, there was more response a year ago when people were made aware that, for the first time, there would be an Spanish-interpreted re-enactment.
Responses were mixed—some supported the idea, while others strongly disagreed. The thread produced 67 comments. Below are a sampling.
• “Why spanish, if you cant understand english then you shouldnt be here.”
• “I come down there from the cities and I have to hear the re-enactment in MEXICAN??? If that's how it's going to be every year, I'm not coming again.”
• “I hope it draws many of our Spanish-speaking friends, neighbors and community members to downtown and I hope that they are warmly welcomed.”
• “I think the Spanish narration is a wonderful community-building event!”
• “Fantastic idea - helping members of the community learn the history is a positive for all.”
Daniel Groll, an assistant professor at Carleton College, said not having the translation this year without any explanation left many wondering if hate had won out.
“The initial impulse should be applauded, but it is upsetting to not see it come back, especially in light of the hateful response it generated in some people,” he said.
Brady said the comments opposing the translation had nothing to do with its absence this year.
“We are still committed to bringing a Spanish interpretation to future raids,” she said.
What that looks like is still in the works. It could range from having downloadable MP3 audio translations, a written translation printed out or adding more re-enactments with one dedicated to Spanish.
DeMann said simply shifting the day of the performance—and making it Spanish-only—may solve the issue. He already has someone in mind for the translation—Al Montero, Latin American Studies director and professor at Carleton College.
“We think it’s a good idea to do this on Friday. It’s an easier time for people to see—an appropriate time for what is essentially a trial,” said DeMann. “My hope is to have all kinds of people come on Friday who want to hear this performance in Spanish—a big crowd that otherwise may not have come.”