In 1960 or so, Professor Perry C. Van Arsdale was helping his 7-year-old granddaughter researching the Santa Fe trail. He found his granddaughter's textbook to have some number of errors. He set off to create a map of pioneer history (prior to the 1900's), using his own knowledge and information from judges, sheriffs, and descendants of historical figures. This was his start in creating the Pioneer New Mexico map, which would contain 300 towns that no longer exist, old trails of all sorts (including the three historic Santa Fe trails and various camel routes), locations of minor squabbles and major battles, and because he couldn't fit everything on the maps, he also included extensive notes in the corner of the map. [more inside]
150 years ago, on December 26, 1862, 38 Dakota men were hung in Mankato, Minnesota. It was the largest mass execution in U.S. history. The men were hung after being convicted by a U.S. military commission for participating in the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862. Originally, 303 were sentenced to death, but President Lincoln commuted the sentences of most of those convicted. The war was waged in the Minnesota River Valley. The Minnesota Historical Society's page on the hangings is here. The Minneapolis Star Tribune's six-part series on the war is here. Minnesota Public Radio has an online photographic display on the war. This American Life's episode on the war is available through the program's website. Indian Country Today reports on efforts in Minnesota to remember the war, including a memorial dedicated in Mankato today. Following the war, most Dakota were expelled from Minnesota.
Forty Thanksgivings ago Alcatraz Island was occupied by a number of Native American activists as a protest. The occupation lasted until June of 1971 The best place to learn about it is PBS's website for Alcatraz Is Not an Island, Jim Fortier's documentary about the Alcatraz Occupation. Besides an overview of the events it has video interviews with the people involved. [RealPlayer required] Here are photographs of the occupation, mostly from newspapers. For a flavor of how the local media covered the events, here's the San Francisco Bay Area Television Archive's Occupation of Alcatraz Collection which has over 40 contemporary newsreports [MPEG4]
Powhatan's Mantle was the emblem of kingship worn by Wahunsenacawh, also known as Chief Powhatan, father of Pocahontas. A deerskin cloak ornamented with shell beadwork, it may at first appear to be only clothing but in fact it is also a map of the Powhatan Confederacy, which ruled most of eastern Virginia when the English first settled there. The mantle was acquired by one of the John Tradescants whose collection was the foundation of Oxford University's Ashmolean Collection and the mantle resides there still today. The first linked article is a fascination article about the mantle as well as a gallery of images of and related to Powhatan's Mantle.
Plains Indian Ledger Art is a website devoted to the art that Plains Indians developed in the latter half of the 19th Century when they got access to paper and modern painting tools. The gallery has 14 different ledgers, including the famous ledger by Black Hawk. The ledgers depict all kinds of scenes, amusing, violent, mythical, mundane and lots of other facets of life for the Plains Indians. There is also a short history of ledger art but for a bit more information read Drawing on Tribal History by Inga Kiderra.
First Nations Histories is a site with compact histories of 48 first nations, from the Abenaki to the Winnebago, written by Lee Sultzman. They are primarily focused on nations in the Northeast, Midwest, with a smattering in the Plains and the Southeast. It also hosts two articles that aren't part of the project, Manifest Destiny and Western Canada and The Coree are Not Extinct.
Blighted Homeland. "From 1944 to 1986, 3.9 million tons of uranium ore were dug and blasted from Navajo soil, nearly all of it for America's atomic arsenal. Navajos inhaled radioactive dust, drank contaminated water and built homes using rock from the mines and mills. Many of the dangers persist to this day." A series of articles and photo galleries examines the legacy of uranium mining on the Navajo (previously discussed here.) [Via Gristmill, BugMeNot.]
First People is a collection of artworks, vintage photographs, clipart, legends, essays, treaties, poems and more, relating to the first peoples of America and Canada (Turtle Island). [via]
Happy Thanksgiving! A friend told me the story of Corn Hill the other day (the house he grew up in is right across the street), so I decided to check out what the internet has to say about the situation. Not much apparently. This ugly website is the only other one I found that didn't say that the pilgrims "borrowed" from a "cache" of corn that they "stumbled upon". What's really crazy is that the pilgrims had never seen corn, nor native americans. This means that they either started digging for fun, or found out about the Wampanoag burial traditions and decided it was a good idea. Either way, happy Grave Robbing Day!