Tag Archives: Midwest

Let’s Change the Way We Talk About the Midwest

12 May

Northwest Iowa Center for Regional Studies

Movement, changing urban landscapes, and environmental violence are all Midwestern stories. A 4-11 Fire Alarm, Chicago. Source: The Newberry Library

Even as Seemingly Every Article on Midwestern History and Culture aims to complicate understandings of the Midwest, they still start with the assumption that the Midwest is a static, white, rural place. This assumption is not reflected in the historical record, contemporary scholarship, or the lived experiences of so many Midwesterners (including myself); rather, it is a harmful and political statement. For example, in Minnesota the narrative justifies elevating violent legacies of colonizers while erasing past and present Indigenous presence in battles over place names at Bde Maka Ska and Historic Fort Snelling at Bdote. Meanwhile, the Board of Regents at the University of Minnesota is unwilling to reckon with the racist histories associated with campus building names. The nostalgic characterization of the Midwest as perpetually white and…

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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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Lully Lullay

18 Dec

Coventry, an English city of 250,00 in the West Midlands, was home to significant industrial power when World War II began, a line of industries Hitler wouldn’t and didn’t miss. When the Battle of Britain began, a specific Coventry blitz started immediately and didn’t end for three long months–198 tons of bombs killed 176 people and injured almost 700.

But the worst was to come. On November 14, 1940, 515 Nazi bombers unloaded on Coventry’s industrial region, leaving the city in ruins. Its own air defenses fired 67 hundred rounds, but brought down only one bomber. It was a rout.

At 8:00 that night, St. Michael’s Cathedral, a fourteenth-century church, was hit and burned, destroyed like so much else as a city turned to ruin.

So begins my friend Jim Schaap’s latest Small Wonder, broadcast on our local NPR station. He makes some wondrous connections: Christmas, World War II, and Wounded Knee. You may read (or listen to) the entire Small Wonder here.

Omaha tribe works to save historic Walthill hospital built by first Native American doctor

26 Aug

Susan LaFlesche Picotte Memorial Hospital

Dolly A. Butz has a report in the Sioux City Journal about efforts to fundraise and restore a historical hospital on the Omaha Reservation in Walthill, NE. Dr. Susan LaFlesche Picotte, a Presbyterian, built it in 1912. You can read more about it all here.

Also, see my earlier post on Susan LaFlesche Picotte.

The First Native American to Receive a Medical Degree

26 Jul

Susan La Flesche Picotte

In case you’ve missed reading Joe Starita’s 2016 book A Warrior of the People, a concise introduction to Susan La Flesche Picotte of the Omaha Nation is here.

Siouxland Ozymandias

8 May

Northwest Iowa Center for Regional Studies

Oddly enough, the empire began by way of a very sore bum. An Englishman named William Brooks Close, who, with his brothers, was in Philadelphia for a rowing match in 1876, so banged up his posterior in practice, that he could not sit without pillows. While the rest of the crew continued to work out, but he had to sit out.

So my friend Jim Schaap begins his latest regional story at KWIT–this time, about the Close brothers of England who purchased large quantities of Siouxland acres in the 1870s and 1880s. You may read his entire story here.

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