These are complicated times, and in the interest of serving ALL students (and avoiding as many problems with parents as possible), I’m renewing my commitment to avoid pushing my own personal values and ideology and just sticking to the facts.
Three Big Things:
1. The tribes of the Great Plains faced confinement or extermination as the 19th century drew to a close; they were desperate and confused in the face of ongoing U.S. expansion, aggression, and manipulation.
2. The “Ghost Dance” promised to bring back their former way of life, to raise their dead, and to bring peace and prosperity to all who believed.
3. Variations in tribal interpretations of “Ghost Dance” teachings and white fears of Amerindian uprisings led to unnecessary death and violence, most notably at Wounded Knee in 1890 – the effective end of Native resistance on the Great Plains.
Joan of Arc has meant a wide variety of things to many different people over the centuries, but it’s this detail that most resonates with me. Joan knew the mores, but she had a larger mission; the tender scruples of others simply weren’t a priority. Thus, in a century of warfare, political strife, economic claims, and divine rights of kings, fought with swords, rituals, and betrayals amidst questions of faith, education, social status, and gender roles, a young girl who heard voices from God and saved a nation with her stubborn faith was executed… for not taking off her pants.
Three Big Things:
1. Slavery. While not the only factor, it was by far the largest. Without it, there would have been no war. Seceding southern states issued their own “declarations” explaining the causes which impelled them to the separation. The issue? Slavery, threats to slavery, insufficient protection of slavery, criticisms of slavery. Oh, and slavery.
2. The Election of 1860. Abraham Lincoln’s victory signaled to the South that the system – democracy, compromise, voting – no longer worked. Their voice, it seemed, was no longer even a factor in how the nation was run. Lincoln's election was the final straw, since he was perceived as a threat to… what else? Slavery.
3. Overconfidence. Few on either side anticipated the possibility of an extended war, or the kinds of death and violence which were to come. Had those making decisions had any hint of what would unfold, one wonders if they’d have pursued other solutions a bit more vigorously.
Stuff You Don’t Really Want To Know (But For Some Reason Have To) About the “Mourning Wars”
Three Big Things:
1. Eastern Amerindians in colonial times practiced a very different sort of warfare than the large-scale, mass destruction favored by European powers.
Good morning, class. Today begins the roughly three days we have allotted by our state-mandated curriculum to cover the causes, major events, and impact of the American Civil War.
There’s nothing more terrifying than finding out your district administrators have just returned from a conference somewhere, and they’re excited about something. You know because they suddenly smile too much, and now they want to come talk to your department or hold a special faculty meeting.
Between the first “land run” opening up the “Unassigned Lands” of Indian Territory in 1889 and statehood in 1907, Oklahoma filled up rapidly.
There were a variety of reasons, of course. The “frontier” was rapidly closing and Oklahoma Territory was the last hope of true homesteading on the continent. Early reports suggested fertile soil and cooperative climate – descriptions which would later be recalled in wry reflection by those who'd embraced them. Then there was the sheer newness and unpredictability of it all – in a nation built on restlessness and possibilities, that alone was sometimes enough.
Oh – and of course, it was a great place to get a divorce.
There are folks you expect to write all fancy. Poets, for example. Certain flavors of novelists. Artsy musician types. George Will.
Education bloggers, not so much.
And then the South began writing the history of the war and the events which led to it. The war they’d lost. The one fought over a variety of issues, but in which slavery and its continuation were central and essential as defined by the South in the very documents they issued to justify their cause. Only suddenly the war hadn’t been about slavery at all. In fact, the South was collectively rather wounded at the suggestion! Slavery?! You think – you think this was about SLAVERY?
Imagine what'd they'd have rewritten if they'd WON?