Namings

I’ve been making blog posts for a decade, sometimes once a month, at other times two in a week. They have dealt with Alvin Josephy’s life and work, the lives and works of other historians and people—especially tribal people of past and present, and they have been about events, from the Fourth of July to Chief Joseph Days. These blog posts appear—and are archived—on our Josephy Library page of the Josephy Center for Arts and Culture webpage. It’s just been called the “Josephy Library Blog.”

In many parts of the world, children are given provisional names at birth, or called something more generic—“son,” “daughter,” “child”—and then given a real name as times, events, and personalities emerge. Similarly, I think it’s time for the generic “Josephy Library Blog” to take on another name, maybe an adolescent name, but one that is more descriptive of what I am learning and trying to interpret for a wider audience.

In searching for a name, and thinking about “naming,” I’m reminded of Josephy’s declaration that when America’s standard history texts and textbooks did not lie about Indians, they omitted them. By the way, Alvin used the term “Indian” almost defiantly, claiming once in a lecture that “that is what my Indian friends call each other.” Alvin passed away almost 20 years ago, and I now hear “Native” and even “indigenous,” and, more frequently, individual tribal names than I hear “Indian.” And those tribal names are often revivals of old names that are replacing the names for tribes printed on maps and handed down by white men chronicling Native American history and culture. One hears Lakota and Dakota more often now than Sioux, and “Nez Perce,” a name given the people by French fur trappers, is giving way to Nimiipuu in our part of the country.

Reaching back to Alvin Josephy’s language, I’d like to call this blog “Lies, Omissions, and Celebrations,” because I think there are still many historical lies and omissions to expose, and because there are so many things in Indian Country—Native America—to celebrate. I’ll name just one here, but it’s a powerful one. When I said to a Native friend that Deb Haaland was a saint, she replied that Deb Haaland is a “superwoman.” I think Deb Haaland is a transformative presence in our government and in Native and National affairs.

I’d like to think that the work I am doing now at the Josephy Library is a small contribution to the much larger work of Native Revival that Deb Haaland guides, anchors, and symbolizes in the present-day United States.

Thanks for reading!
Rich
p.s. Looking to the right on this blog page, select one of the “recent entries” or “featured subjects” listed to find previous posts.

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