Tag Archives: American Indians

How the Census Changed America

1 May

 

The inventor Herman Hollerith devised a punch-card system to record census information. His invention transformed data-processing technology. Photograph by American Stock Archive / Archive Photos / Getty

In April, the Supreme Court began to hear arguments about one of the central requirements of the Constitution. It’s right there, in Article I, Section 2, clause 3: For a government of the people to function, the people must be counted. The Founders wanted an “enumeration” to occur within three years of the first meeting of Congress, and then “within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct.” A census, in other words.

So begins Ted Widmer’s brief consideration of some of the history of the U.S. Census. While he rightly notes the partial exclusion of African Americans for much of this history, he fails to note the even longer exclusion of most American Indians. Indians were not declared U.S. citizens until an act of Congress in 1924.

You may read Widmer’s entire New Yorker article here.

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Rethinking Pocahontas

13 Mar

A portrait of Pocahontas, 1616.

We all think we know Pocahontas, but her real story is very different from the popular image. Pocahontas was an extremely talented and lively 10-year-old girl when Jamestown was founded in 1607. She was the daughter of the Great Powhatan, who ruled over numerous client tribes in the Chesapeake, the region the Powhatans called Tsenacomaca, and he selected her for a special role because of her intelligence and personality. Captain John Smith said her “wit, and spirit” made her stand out.

So begins historian Karen Ordhahl Kupperman’s summation of her new biography of Pocahontas. You may read her entire Time piece here.

What Poop Can Teach Us About an Ancient City’s Downfall

27 Feb

Northwest Iowa Center for Regional Studies

An aerial shot of Cahokia's Monks Mound.

NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF poop. After more than 1,000 years, it can still have a lot to offer.

Just ask the authors of a new study, out today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which discusses how fecal remains can teach us about the rise and fall of Cahokia, an ancient city less than 10 miles outside of present-day St. Louis, Missouri. According to UNESCO, Cahokia was “the largest pre-Columbian settlement north of Mexico.”

So begins Matthew Taub’s Atlas Obscura post on Cahokia. You may read the entire post here.

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Her family farm once belonged to the Kaw Indians. She decided to pay them back.

16 Feb

Northwest Iowa Center for Regional Studies

Back in 1879, Henrich Gronemann was a German Lutheran who homesteaded on the far southeast corner of McPherson County, near the borders of Harvey and Marion County.

His 320-acres of prairie was filled with creeks and rolling hills that previously had been the hunting grounds of the Kaw, or Kanza, Indians.

Now, 140 years and five generations later, his great-great granddaughter has done something unthinkable.

So begins Becky Tanner’s story for the Wichita Eagle. You may read the rest of the story here.

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Blackface in some historical perspective

5 Feb

Last Friday, it was revealed that Ralph Northam, the Democratic governor of Virginia, had featured, on his medical-school yearbook page, a photograph of a man in blackface and a man in a Ku Klux Klan hood. Northam immediately apologized for appearing in the photo, but he then changed his story and said that neither person in the photograph was him; he did, however, say that he had once put shoe polish on his face as part of a Michael Jackson costume. By the end of the weekend, many members of the Virginia and national Democratic parties had called for Northam’s resignation.

To discuss the subject of blackface and its historical role in American politics, culture, and racism, I spoke by phone with Eric Lott, who teaches American studies at the cuny Graduate Center and is the author of “Love & Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy & the American Working Class.” An edited and condensed version of our conversation is below.

You made read the New Yorker interview with historian Lott here. And, to read the Native News Online op-ed entitled Why is Blackface Racist but Playing Indian is Not? click here.

A New History of Native Americans Responds to ‘Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee’

26 Jan

“The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee,” by David Treuer (Ojibwe), examines … recent generations of American Indian history. Through memoir, interviews and extensive reading, Treuer counters the familiar narratives of invisibility that have so readily frozen America’s indigenous peoples. Interweaving stories from family members, the voices of policymakers and assessments of contemporary youth culture, the book introduces alternative visions of American history. The result is an informed, moving and kaleidoscopic portrait of “Indian survival, resilience, adaptability, pride and place in modern life.” Rarely has a single volume in Native American history attempted such comprehensiveness.

So observes historian Ned Blackhawk about David Treuer’s new history of Native Americans. You may read the entire book review at the New York Times here.

American Indians and World War I

9 Jan
Captain Ben Davis Locke (Choctaw) with American Indian soldiers

Captain Ben Davis Locke (Choctaw), in front, with American Indian soldiers at Camp Stanley, 1918. Courtesy of Francine Locke Bray.

The American Indians in WWI Centennial Commission and the Sequoyah National Research Center at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock have launched a new website. You may explore it and its links here.

Exploring the Past

Reading, Thinking, and Blogging about History

Enough Light

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Lenten Lamentations

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Stuff That Needs To Be Said

Wirelesshogan: Reflections from the Hogan

"History is the record of our loves in all their magnificent and ignoble forms." Eugene McCarraher

The Way of Improvement Leads Home

"History is the record of our loves in all their magnificent and ignoble forms." Eugene McCarraher

the way of improvement leads home

reflections at the intersection of American history, religion, politics, and academic life

The Pietist Schoolman

The website and blog of historian Chris Gehrz

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by Alex Scarfe

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Thoughtful Conversation about the American West

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"History is the record of our loves in all their magnificent and ignoble forms." Eugene McCarraher

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