The new Ken Burns documentary, the American Buffalo, follows the Euro-Americans across the continent as they kill buffalo, kill them mostly for profit—meat for the railroad workers; tongues which fetched high prices as culinary delicacies in the East; buffalo robes and hides that became important strong leather for the Industrial Revolution; and, finally, the remnant hooves that were gathered for glue and bones that were ground up for fertilizer. They also killed buffalo for sport and to impoverish Native tribes that depended on them.Read Rich’s Post →
“Rumble” is a 2017 Canadian documentary film that I’d missed until it hit public television. I watched it twice, taking notes the second time, wanting to get in my mind the names of Rock n’ Roll, jazz, and blues musicians I’d listened to—and many I had not heard or heard of before.
I’d have to slow it down and stop action to get all the names and dates, but I know enough now to know that once again the roles of American Indians in the American story have been hidden or muted, and that there is again the story of resilience. Joy Harjo, our current national poet laureate and a member of the Mvskoke/Creek Nation, says, as the credits roll, that “We’re still here; we’re still alive; we’re still singing.Read Rich’s Post →
History’s a complicated mosaic, and the more I read and hear from Indian elders, the more complicated it gets. But also, more interesting. Historians have tales to tell, arguments to make, which means that they sometimes miss the nuances—or even the major protagonists—in their stories. In the texts I grew up with, diseases were missing, climate was missing, and in almost all cases in American history, Indians were missing. They were a sidebar, friendly at first in sharing foods, then hurdles overcome as the nation moved across a continent. Fortunately, new histories are giving us old and neglected stories of the trials of Indians, Blacks, Latinx and Asians—and recounting their contributions to the current world.Read Rich’s Post →