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Category Archives: Anthropology

Vivir es Increible

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Triqui/Trique Indian boys basketball team
Picture credit:  Unknown

Orlando was blessed to have many fine young athletes in town this week for a Basketball event, and one of the teams that made the news this morning on our local station, WESH TV was from Mexico.
Nothing new here, or was there?
This team of fairly small boys, as far as basketball players go, played without shoes.
But, this is not unusual for them, as they nearly always do so.

These boys come from one of Mexico’s poorest regions, a tiny place in the mountains of Oaxaca, that range from 4,000 to nearly 10,000 feet and the inhabitants are called the Trique/Triqui people, a blended group of Mixtec,   (place of cloud-people), who are known for their beautiful weavings.

This area and these people, are not new to me, as one of my favorite Anthropology Professors at CSUN, had related his summers there, for the past 20 plus years.
Every year, he would travel down to Oaxaca to spend a month with the people, then wrote and brought back what he learned about them to his students.

Years later, when I traveled to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, I felt that there were strong similarities between it and many places in Oaxaca.
They were both poverty stricken areas, that few outsiders came to and even fewer cared much about.

This young team makes news every time they play, mostly for their lack of shoes, but what people don’t understand is that their lack of shoes, are the least of their worries.
So many where they come from, are desperately poor, with food, shelter and personal safety at the top of their daily wants/needs list, and going without shoes, much lower on it.

Native or Indigenous Mexicans, are at a poverty level of about 80%, compared to the National level in the upper 20’s.

Many of these young players must walk two hours or more, on rough mountain roads just to get to their practices, and Basketball is about the only sport that can be played in such a difficult terrain.

For me personally, the hardest part of relaying this story to all of you, is in knowing that the country where these brave young players live, is in constant turmoil from outside political pressures.

A friend from school traveled down there years ago, quite concerned about the way the people were being treated and was never seen again.

“Accidents” can happen, to those who ask too many questions, or get too curious about local politics.

Just playing their games, must seem like great relief after enduring the conditions that surround them.

Whenever the team travels, they basically have become ambassadors for their people, and the state of Oaxaca, and Global generosity to them and their town, have followed them everywhere.

Their Head Coach Sergio Zuniga, was interviewed by WESH and his pride in their achievements was clearly evident as he spoke.

This week in Orlando, not only was the team gifted with shoes, so was their entire town.

Yes, back home things are very difficult, but as their Team jackets say, ” Vivir es Increible, life is incredible.”

Places to learn more:

Mexican youth basketball team plays shoeless in Orange County tournament

Hoop dreams of Mexico’s indigenous youth provide hope in ‘forgotten’ region

It’s Triqui to play around: Shoeless Mexican team plays exhibition match in LA

Youth Mexican Basketball Team Wins Big Playing Barefoot

Mexican Shoeless Basketball Champions Prove It’s About How You Play, Not What You Have

Trique People – Wikipedia

A History of the Triqui People

 

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Monsters of Marianna

FlaIndusSchBoys
The Florida Dozier School for Boys in Marianna
Dining hall construction with “White House” in background, 1936
Picture credit: Wikipedia

 

This story has been percolating in my head and heart since we moved down here nearly ten years ago,

it is not about Florida Wildlife it is about Florida Monsters.

But just like the Wildlife here that I am devoted to writing about, these children also had no voice.

If you blink as you drive West on Interstate 10 near Tallahassee in the Panhandle of Florida, you might miss Marianna.

This is a sleepy little town, that until we moved here and began seeing the News stories, had held only one memory,  it was the town where we always stopped to eat at a place called Po – Folks.

Po – Folks  has  great country-style southern comfort food and a really friendly staff.

Absolutely nothing there, or anything that you see as you drive through, could possibly tell you about the dark, ugly secret this town once had.

Now when I think of Marianna, it will forever be because of the horrible, hideous stories continuously being splashed across our TV News Stations.

You see in  Marianna,  there used to be what is called a Bad Boys, or Reform School and it was said to be the biggest one in the entire United States.

You know, the kind of place where troubled children get sent to because no one can control them, or worse, wants them.

Some of them were orphans, others were just confused and needed guidance and help.

This House of Horrors  is/was called the Dozier Boys School and it was also a  place of torture, abuse and death for many who were sent there.

It is also said that the KKK were very much a part of the crimes here.

The school was opened in 1900 and closed in 2011 amid a flurry of accusations, threats and lawsuits.

Then Governor Crist had it all investigated, but as usual in this place called the racially oppressed and color divided State of Florida, this ugly mess was claimed to not have enough, or sufficient evidence to go further.

Those in control stepped out, hopeful it would all go away.

But not so fast, some survivors started making a lot of noise and some people were listening to their stories, better yet they were believing them.

It has been reported that almost 100 children died while this school was in operation.

Then several years ago a team of Anthropologists from USF in Tampa went to Marianna and began a dig.

The Dig team was led by Associate Professor and Forensic Anthropologist Erin Kimmerle, who had known about the school and wanted to see if something could be found.

Because my field of Education at College was in Anthropology and the majority of my Nursing experience was at a State Rehab Center in California, this story was of great personal interest.

One of the many sad  things about this story,  is the name that was given to the place where so much of the abuse happened, it was called the White House.

So, the survivors of this school nightmare, call themselves the White House Boys and they are determined to not only expose the crimes, but to shine a bring light on what happened there.

This time, they want to see justice for the victims and punishment for the perpetrators, if any are still alive.

These few survivors of unspeakable abuse want, need, to be assured that this can and will never happen again, anywhere.

The White House Boys also want an apology, as well as, who can blame them, compensation from those who kept the secrets of the Monsters of Marianna.

 

Places to learn more:

Read the Full USF PDF  Report here:  Dozier School Report

Florida School for Boys – Wikipedia

THE WHITE HOUSE BOYS SURVIVOR’S ORGANIZATION CORP

Florida to exhume bodies buried at former boys school

Remains of 2 more boys identified at closed Florida boys school

Boy missing since 1940 identified at closed Florida boys school

Florida’s Dozier School For Boys: A True Horror Story

Abuses at infamous Florida boys reform school even more widespread, report says

 

 

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Helen Hunt Jackson

HelenHuntJackson
Helen Hunt Jackson
Picture credit: Wikipedia

 

Watching the B/W version of the 1936 film  Ramona  last night, was a double-edged sword, it was such a beautiful story of love and devotion, but it was also extremely sad.

It was wonderful at last, to see the visual of the world-famous classic on the big screen.

The film starred Loretta Young as Ramona, who is completely captivating and steals every scene that she is in.

This book and the movie, spawned an annual event  that now brings thousands to the re-creation every year.

They also did so much to express the horrors of the oppressed lives of the California Mission, actually all Indians, in America at the time and the reaction to it was immediate.

Helen Hunt Jackson,  a name that she desperately tried to have removed from her writings,  as she believed it was ” rude ” to keep a former marriage name, was to become the most famous/infamous American female writer of her time, in spite of the fact that she chose a highly unpopular, even dangerous subject:  civility towards American Indians by the US Government.

One of the things that she did,  that made her unforgettable and evermore endearing to me,  was her brazen delivery to every single member of Congress,  a copy of her Cultural/Political blast,  A Century of Dishonor.

This single act made her an instant enemy to nearly every politician in America.

Her hope was that this book would expose the wrongs and help to correct them.

When this failed to achieve her goals, she went to California and became entrenched in Native life there long enough to learn all that she needed to write an even more important work that WOULD finally achieve her goal.

She wrote Ramona!

 

But I digress, here is an earlier Biography that I wrote about her when I was taking books to the masses all over this country, to enlighten the, for the most part,  poorly, culturally educated,  general public about the truth concerning the History and Culture of Native Americans.

 

Helen Maria Fiske was born October 1830 in Amherst, Massachusetts.

Her father was a strict minister/professor at Amherst College and both of her parents died when she was barely in her teens.

She was educated at the Ipswich Female Seminary and the Abbott Brother’s School in New York City.

Fellow classmate Emily Dickinson became a lifelong friend.

Although Jackson’s personal life was filled with tragedy, her first husband was killed and her two young sons both died, the strength of her legacy remains in her passionate writing about the maltreatment of Native Americans.

 

An excellent full length biography of her life is here.

 

The glass ceiling biographies, a wonderful place that has now gone away, wrote this about Helen:

“Helen wrote many books, articles, poems and stories, but her place in history was secured with her 2 most famous books,

Ramona, a romantic tragedy that quickly became a best-selling novel about a young California Indian couple and A Century of Dishonor, a searing exposé on the shameful treatment of Indians by the Government.

After completing it, Jackson delivered a copy to every member of Congress, chastising them with these words, written in red:

“Look upon your hands: They are stained with the blood of your relations.”

The book did not make her a celebrity, on the contrary, it was to be years efore it was appreciated or applauded by most of her contemporaries.

Jackson’ s writing was courageous and many women since have followed her example by also writing about contemptuous Indian issues.”

 

 

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The True Cost of Your Food!

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The year  is 1941 and these are the children of Migrant Farm Workers in California.
Picture credit: Library of Congress, Robert Hemmig.

 

As you sit to eat each day, do you ever think about where the food on your table comes from?

Perhaps not, but maybe you should.

The United States has millions of Migrant Farm Workers whose sole means of survival, is to put that very food on your table.

And how do we thank them for this life-giving nourishment?

The truth is not very pleasant, nor often even humane.

The work that they do is back-breaking, with very low pay or sometimes,  even no pay.

They have no health insurance and few rights and even fewer who care what happens to them at all.

Yet, without these Migrant Farm Workers who suffer in silence, we would have nothing, or very little, on our dinner tables in America.

I know of no one who would do the work that they do,  no one!

Would you?

If they are lucky, they and their children will hopefully survive it all.

As most of you who follow my two Blogs know, I lived in Southern California  for over 30 years.

My education was in Anthropology, and my opportunity to learn about Migrant Workers came easily because of these two facts.

My last semester at CSUN was a rewarding one, the hard part was all done and the classes that remained were ones that gave me the chance to study what really meant the most to me, people.

Over the years, I had met and become friends with many Hispanics in California, some were legal residents, many were not, but they were all the same to me, kind, warm and family loving people,  that I enjoyed being with and knowing.

The first  “free study”  Class that I did was about the Migrant Farm Workers who lived and worked in Southern California.

I spent countless weekends for six months,  all over LA talking to and learning about, the way these people lived and worked.

They were so forthcoming in offering me the chance to understand the hard lives that they and their families lived.

In these interviews, the people who talked to me were always men,  their wives and children were still in Mexico and they sent them as much as they could each week.

This was the saddest part of the lesson learned, many times the men would get onto trucks and work for an entire day in a field somewhere, only to be dropped off and told that they would be paid the next day.

But, that never happened they said,  because the next day the nasty people who did this,  always chose another street and another group of unsuspecting victims.

Usually, these men lived as many as 8-10 to a room, sharing what they had,  just trying to survive and send money home.

They were victimized by “legal” Americans who cared nothing for them of their families, but only used them.

The workers of course,  could not complain, as so many of them were not here legally and those who cheated them, were quite well aware of this fact.

This was in the mid 1990’s.

What I did not know about at the time of these interviews,  was all that had been done to those who came before them.

Migrant Farm Workers coming to pick food in California began shortly after the two World Wars,  first in the early 1900’s and then later, in the 1950’s, with the Bracero Program.

California advertised everywhere to bring people there to pick the exploding orange and fruit harvests for the owners who were desperate for pickers.

Those who came, were promised many things and in the beginning they were treated fairly well.

Although unbelievably,  I just learned today, they were sprayed with DDT at the Borders.

But then later after the worker shortage slowed down around the mid 1960’s, things began to change and conditions for the pickers became most unbearable.

Just about this time,  Cesar Chavez began his lifetime of dedication to improving  Farm Worker’s Rights.

He would fight this good fight,  until his death and made such a tremendous difference in their lives.

But silently waiting in the dark shadows all during this time was a sinister evil that few suspected, until it was out of control.

Pesticide poisoning was now rampant among the farm workers, their families and the places where they lived.

There is a small town in the San Joaquin Valley, called  McFarland, where not so long ago, the rate of leukemia among the children there under six, was nearly 80% and many blamed this on the over use of pesticides throughout this entire farming region.

This town is right smack in the middle of the Big Valley, which we Californians jokingly called the “salad bowl of America” because just about everything in a salad came from there.

What no one talked about back then,  however, was the amount of pesticides and the harm they caused, used everywhere in this  Great Valley,  that  all of this wonderful food required to be delivered to America’s dinner tables.

The people who bring you your food and their families,  have paid a great price for this, many paid the ultimate price.

So, now that you know the true cost of your food, perhaps the next time you and your family sit down to dinner, you may say a silent thank you to the Migrant Farm Workers who brought it to you.

 

Places to learn more:

How To Better Protect Farmworkers From Pesticides

Protect Farmworkers From Pesticide Poisonings

California goes mobile to educate farm workers on pesticide safety

Pesticides and Childhood Cancer

Heavy Lift

Florida Farm Workers Allege Pesticide Exposure Is Giving Them Cancer

A Poisoned Culture: the case of the Indigenous Huicholes Farm Workers

Farm Workers Demand Protections From Pesticide Poisoning

Long-awaited EPA pesticide protections a ‘mixed bag’

Farmworkers plagued by pesticides

Farmworkers

 

 

 

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Ishi, the last Yahi

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Ishi, the last of his kind, the last Yahi.
All pictures are public domain

 

Many years ago, while going through a stack of newspapers that had been held for us while we had been away, I came across this story which was personally very close to my heart:

” Last of the Yahi Indians is finally coming home for proper burial”   by Michelle Locke.

It was a brief story about the man called Ishi, his life and death and his final return to California.

This latest chapter in the story of Ishi, touched me nearly as deeply as had the book and the movie about this remarkable man.

The movie, The Last of his Tribe, with Graham Greene as Ishi and Jon Voight as Professor Kroeber is quite compelling.

I highly recommend it and all of the books associated with Ishi’s  life.

Be prepared to learn the unpleasant facts about the treatment of our first people in this country.

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Ishi, the last Yahi.

Ishi’s voice was  recorded on wax cylinders   by Professor Kroeber

and can be heard at the Museum of Natural History in Santa Barbara.

If you are ever near this area, the chance to hear this recording will make your visit unforgettable.

Even though it is quite old and not modern technology, Ishi’s heart and soul come through loud and clear.

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Ishi with Dr. Kroeber in 1911

 

Ishi  was to many of us, a last, sad look at the kind of men who had once inhabited this country freely;

a proud, defiant man whose life was tragically changed by those who came to steal his land in search of gold.

When Ishi wandered out of the woods in 1911 in search of food, he was captured by ones who would take him to Alfred Kroeber, the Professor of Anthropology at UC Berkeley in California.

This historical meeting and the events that followed, would change both of their lives forever.

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Ishi before 1916

 

You may learn more about Ishi at these Berkeley web sites:

 Introduction to the man called Ishi

The Yana and the Yahi

 Ishi before the Museum

 Ishi at the Musuem

A UCSF web site:

Ishi: The Last Yahi

 

The brief time that these two men spent together, before Ishi’s untimely death, presumably due to consumption, or as we now know it, tuberculosis, would leave a legacy for those who would study California Natives and Anthropology to study and decipher for many years to come.

Sadly, after his death in 1916, Ishi was subjected to an autopsy, an act that he reviled due to his spiritual beliefs and had made quite clear to those around him, that he never wanted performed on him.

However, in the absence of his friend and mentor, Professor Kroeber, the hideous autopsy was performed  and Ishi’s brain was removed and sent away.

After many years and much searching, Ishi’s brain was recently discovered in a jar in the Smithsonian, where many other American Native remains are kept as well.

Their defense for this abhorrent, massive bone and tissue collection, was to assure a representative warehouse from a wide variety of species of animals?

Human and otherwise?

Now, Ishi’s brain has made the long trip back to Northern California, where it will be buried in  a secret place, along with his cremated remains.

At last Ishi has come home and hopefully will be allowed to walk in peace once again with his family and ancestors, unmolested by curious outsiders.

The final meaning and full worth of this man’s life and tragic death will be left for the ages to determine.

 Peace Ishi

 

 

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My Most Admired Women~

Clinton_and_Aung_San_Suu_Kyi

Hillary Rodham Clinton with Aung San Suu Kyi
Picture credit:  U.S. State Department

 

They say that today is International Women’s Day.

This makes me just a bit curious, what about all of the other days?

What follows here is a selfish post.

I have always wanted to write about the women that I think have changed the world and influenced me.

So, with the excuse of what has been deemed their “day,”  I shall  begin!

I would like to speak of just a few of the women who have impacted my life and are especially worthy of mention here today.

 

I would of course, begin with my grandmother, who had 18 children and was the matriarch of our huge family and my mother, who raised me as a single mother, long before it was socially acceptable. Between them, these two very different, equally strong women, gave me all that was needed to become the person that I am today.

berthanugentmother

 

Of the women in my past not related to me, that I most admired,  I would like to mention a very special History teacher at Shortridge High School who made the subject come alive, for one who despised the whole idea of it, Mrs. Mary Walker.
She was a tiny, vibrant, African-American woman with beautiful white hair and I loved being in her class.
To this day, I can still hear her saying the word  ” Hapsburg’s.”

marywalker

 

Of all of the world’s current women leaders,  the one that I hold in the highest esteem is  Aung San Suu Kyi   of Burma/Myanmar. What she had done for her people and her country is  simply astounding and remarkable and there are few in the world who could have endured all that she has.

aungsansuukyi

 

Dr. Judith Marti was my first Anthropology Professor at CSUN and  taught mostly Ethnography Classes, which is basically, the study of a people through written observations.  She made a huge impact on all the years that followed in College. My classes with her and the lessons in life that she gave me, changed the way that I looked at  the world. She pushed me to always do better in every paper, every project, I would know little of real Anthropology if it were not for her. (Regretfully no picture)

 

Mrs. O’Brien, the dynamic, demanding,  Irish Charge Nurse at two of the facilities where I worked. She put the fear of God in all who were near, and not meeting her expectations in Nursing and patient care and taught me how to be a better Nurse. She often stood over me as I did treatments and remarked how perfectly they were done. As I told her, I had many times to practice with my son, who had years of skin breakdowns due to his paraplegia. We became very close and I will never forget her passion and her insistence on nothing but the best from all who worked with her. (Regretfully no picture)

 

For our current positive status in women’s liberation and equal rights we all owe much to many women, but for my own generation, my connection has always been to Gloria Steinem.  Those of us who came of age in the ’60’s, especially in Southern California, found their voice,  through hers. We were able to fight for our rights,  when no one wanted to give them to us and what she did made me a stronger woman. Regrettably, we are still waiting in this backwards thinking state of Florida for the ERA to be passed!

GloriaSteinem1972

 

In American politics, my choice must certainly be  Hillary Clinton  for being one of the most intelligent, powerful, accomplished women of my time. She is the closest we have come so far in putting a woman in the White House. For that I will forever thank her. Hillary has worked hard all of her life to make the world a better place for all of us.

HillaryClinton

 

 

 

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The Leakey Legacy

MaryLeakey

The Leakey’s on a dig: Mary, Richard, Louis and  ” the Boys ”
Picture credit: Unknown,  although M.D. Leakey would be Mary

 

There were several new discoveries in the news today that had me salivating as I read them.

Well actually, more like lusting, as my College studies were in Anthropology/Ethnography, not Archaeology, but none the less, this is pretty mouth-watering breaking news for all Anthropologists and those interested in the Ancient Origins and History of Humans.

The links to the stories are below, in the meantime, here is a tiny personal tidbit.

Although Ethnography was my chosen sector of Anthropology to study, my interest had always been in the findings of the entire Leakey family and the great Rift Valley of East Africa, including Olduvai Gorge, or as one of my favorite Professors  always referred to it,   ” the elevator down into our past. “

While Louis, the son of Kenyan Missionaries among the Kikuyu people, was the one always in the spotlight, his wife Mary and son Richard were both quite well-respected and had earned the right to also be admired for their work.

Mary was most celebrated of course, for her discoveries of the Laetoli footprints  in Tanzania in 1978 and Richard had his own numerous notable finds.

In the Literary world, between the two of them, they penned quite a few excellent books, of course I have read them all and they now sit on a book-case next to me when I write.

A one of a kind photo taken of Louis while he was on a dig in Calico, California, many years ago,  looks down at me as I eat everyday, it  was a kindly, generous gift from the woman who led the site tour and asked me to follow her to her office afterwards. I had been more than a little chatty during the tour,  sharing my knowledge of the Leakey’s and I was sure she was going to chastise me for doing this. Not so, as it turned out, surprisingly, she took an envelope out of her drawer, smiling as she handed it to me saying,  ”  I cannot think of anyone who would treasure this more than you ” and gave me the soon to be life long treasure. On this point,  she was absolutely correct.

While my studies in Ethnography kept me quite busy all through my College studies,  Archaeology,  especially Paleontology,  the Leakey’s  and  Olduvai Gorge were always right there in the back of my mind. I spent countless hours and dollars finding books about any and all of it.

I was never really sure what  the most interesting thing about them was, their astonishing finds, their brilliant children, or their wonderful Dalmatians, ” the boys ” as Mary called them, who accompanied the family on many of their digs.

If I had to choose my favorite of all of my Anthropology classes,  it was most certainly Human Paleontology. I will never forget the terrifying Final Exam, which was a room filled with shelves and the nearly 100 skulls waiting to be identified sitting on them.

Shockingly,  I did pretty well on this Final Exam, (which was a Master’s level class not required for my Degree.)

Was it due perhaps,  to my obsessive reading and studying anything and everything about the Leakey’s? Probably~

Anyway,  now back to today’s exciting, well at least to some of us,  Ancient discoveries.

 

The stories are below, if this subject sounds of interest to you, do take a look:

The Epic Journey of our Species

Treasure trove of ‘absolutely wonderful,’ never-before-seen fossils uncovered in B.C.

 

 

 

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The Knee~

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The Cemetery at Wounded Knee
Picture credit: Napa

 

So far everything that has been posted on this new Blog has been about people, today it is about a place.

What is the old adage,  “write what you know?”

Of all of the places that I have been in my travels in search of Culture, only one has changed my life forever, and that place is Wounded Knee.

On my first trip to Pine Ridge many years ago, Wounded Knee was my destination.

After reading and studying about it for a year, it was time to meet it face to face.

I could not wait to see for myself what it was really like there.

So  many feelings rush back now as I remember that first time there.

I drove straight to the Wounded Knee cemetery outside of Pine Ridge and walked around for a bit looking at the grave sites, then turned and started down the hill back towards my Jeep.

Just as I got to the dirt road,  a hand was on my shoulder.

I turned and the woman smiled at me and said, ” I have prayed for you to come.”

OK, I was more than a  little startled, but not afraid.

As we walked towards my car she said , “will you come to my house,  I have something for you?”

She lives/lived directly across from the cemetery, so it was not far.

When we got to her house, she went inside and came back in a few minutes with some papers.

She handed them to me and said, “will you take these with you and show them to others?”

I agreed, there was no hesitation.

It may or may not have come as a shock to her when I told her later that I had a business at UCLA and access to thousands of people every day.

When she heard this, she was delighted.

The papers were actually Petitions to stop the sale of some of the land  in the Wounded Knee area.

I knew nothing at that time about the history of all of this, but told her that I would read them when I got home and then ask others to sign if they chose to do so.

This area was/ is so deep and rich in Lakota history and the very thought of this happening, gave me cold chills.

If you have had little or no Native History, the event that happened here was called the Wounded Knee Massacre.

Where she and I stood that day was directly in front of the gully where on December 29, 1890, about 300 (the numbers seem to change with each accounting) innocent men, women and children were murdered by the US 7th Cavalry, using a vicious new weapon called a Hotchkiss or Gatling gun, which was somewhat similar to a present day machine gun.

Many of them were shot in the back, as they ran away.

The US Government  had been struggling for years to try to get all of the Lakota to come into the Reservation at Pine Ridge, but many still were refusing.

So, what happened that day was a result of their misguided idea of a final attempt to get them under control.

Later after she went back into her house and before I got ready to leave,  I stood there alone for a long time, then walked slowly  up the gully, which was several hundred feet long.

I closed my eyes and could feel the sorrow, the pain,  of those victims so long ago.

The whole area near the gully is charged with a distinct energy, the mood of it is unmistakably cold and sad.

Many books have been written about this tragic event, one of the best I believe,  is Dee Brown’s, “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.”

Not far away,  stands a  sign acknowledging Crazy Horse and ” the knee.”

This is a place of tremendous cultural and historical importance to all Lakota people.

And on that hot South Dakota summer day,  this place and this woman changed my life forever.

She stood in that hot sun next to my car for hours, pouring her heart out to me about the things that were happening on Pine Ridge every day.

While we talked,  a car pulled into her yard and a man got out and asked me if this woman was harassing me.

I gave him a cold look and said, no,  she was a friend of mine.

He looked down at my California license plate,  smirked and then drove away.

She said that he was one of the  “GOON Squad ” who terrorized all those who opposed them.

She and this place made such an impression on me, that as soon as I got back to California I created a website dedicated to  the Lakota people and it has been a source of pride for me for more than 15 years.

Students and teachers all over the world have used it and found it of value.

But it wasn’t me, it was the memory of her and Wounded Knee that built it.

I will not mention her name to protect her, but we communicated by mail and phone for years after that.

I took her petition back to UCLA and hundreds of students,  faculty and visitors on the campus eagerly signed it.

In the end, it was all for nothing, as the area has now been once again, put up for sale.

For now, Wounded Knee, the cemetery,  the church, the gully and the sacred, bitter memories remain undisturbed and basically intact, but who will take over this place of Lakota History and when,  is yet to be determined.

This story has been very well covered in the media, but here are two of the best places to learn more:

Save Wounded Knee

Anger Over Plan to Sell Site of Wounded Knee Massacre

 

 

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Zora Neale Hurston

ZoraNealHurston

Zora Neale Hurston in 1937
Beating a Haitian tambour maman or mama drum
Picture credit: World Telegram staff photographer

 

As an Anthropology student in California years ago,  I do not remember ever hearing about this remarkable woman.

It was only after coming here to Florida in 2000, that I became aware of her work in my own field of study.

I was at the University of Florida Press in Gainesville one day, picking up some books, when I noticed a stack of hers on the counter.

I asked the person there who she was and she said that she was  ” A Florida writer.”

Well as soon as I got home, I looked  her up and the shock hit me, she was a great deal more than just a “Florida writer.”

So this is a brief introduction into the world of this extraordinary African-American woman, whose life was just celebrated recently in the Annual Zora Festival in Eatonville.

Although many are not aware, Zora was not born in Florida, she was born in Notasulga, Alabama on January 7, 1891, but was brought to Eatonville at the tender age of 3.

Eatonville,  which is near Orlando, was/is one of first all black towns in this country.

I believe it was certainly the first one here in Florida.

Zora was the daughter of Baptist preacher and after they moved to Florida, he later became the Mayor of Eatonville.

After her mother died when she was 13, her father remarried quite quickly and soon after, her father and new step-mother sent her away to a boarding school in Jacksonville.

When they stopped paying for her tuition, Zora took what ever work she could find during this period, to stay in school.

Later as their  only black student, she received a BA in Anthropology at Barnard College/ Columbia University and graduated in 1928 at the age of 37.  (she had changed her date of birth to be able to complete her education)

During this time she worked with renown Anthropologists, Franz Boaz  and Margaret Mead.

She also became an active writing member of the Harlem Renaissance Era in the 1920’s.

Sadly, Zora later had several personal issues that hurt her and caused her great embarrassment.

Like so many other very talented, political and social trailblazers, Zora died alone and poor.

She was buried in the Garden of Heavenly Rest in Fort Pierce,  Florida,  in an unmarked grave in 1960.

Years later  in 1973, an upcoming author  Alice Walker  (who in 1982 would  write The Color Purple) and who had benefitted from Zora’s  example and writing, went to Fort Pierce and found what she believed to be her grave site and had a marker placed there.

 

This is an excellent accounting of her fascinating life:  Zora Neale Hurston

 

Zora Festival 2014

Zora Sustaining a Culture of Color

 

 

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tahtonka, in the beginning~

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My favorite place on Earth, Yellowstone and the Tetons.

 

Greetings~

This is a quite personal Blog concerning my passion for the world’s people and places, or to be more accurately defined, Global Culture.

My education was in Anthropology and much of what you will find here shall be conversations regarding the relevant past, present or future of Cultural Issues and News from around our Globe.

For those who may not be familiar with the word tahtonka, it is Lakota for Buffalo or Bison.

The first time that I heard the word, was when it was used in the movie Dances with Wolves, then a few years later, I studied the Lakota people at CSUN.

But the word did not truly reach its full meaning until seeing first hand, the ancestral importance it held for the Lakota people in South Dakota.

For hundreds of years, before the invasion of their homelands, the Buffalo/Bison had been the central part of their Culture.

They depended on it in every aspect of their lives and when it was taken from them by the invaders and our own US Government, they were lost.

Then being forced onto Reservations was the final insult to a once vital and vibrant people, who became only a shadowy reflection of what they had once been.

In 1990, I embarked on my first real journey alone,  driving from just outside of Los Angeles to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

I got absolutely no moral support in this adventure from my instructors at school, nor from any of my family.

They were all united in their complete and total opposition to this “dangerous journey”  for a woman to be taking all alone!

But it was something that I felt compelled to do.

Lectures, books and movies can only educate and define just so much, they do not tell you the true story.

I needed to see for myself about what I had studied.

It turned out to be a revelation that I was not fully prepared for at the time.

The conditions at Pine Ridge were often referred to as what is commonly called, Third World  and as it turned out, this was not to be an exaggeration.

Until you experience an Indian Reservation personally, you could not accurately comprehend the living conditions that Native People there must endure daily.

Deplorable comes to mind.

So, now with a bit of background of what I am about,  this begins a new form of exploration for me, writing a Blog about Global Culture.

As this Blog will not be about topics that are normally given great media or public attention, I do not anticipate many likes, hits or followers, however, I will be quite to content just to put it out there and occasionally receive some sort of feedback from those happen upon it.

It is my hope, that you may find this Blog dedicated to Global Culture, a worthy, educational, experience~

 

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