Folks, we've been slow with articles and correspondence this week due to another series of technical issues. We'll be back to normal form this weekend.
“The Black Hills are not for sale!” is a common rallying cry for Treaty rights on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
In 1980 The longest running court case in U.S. history, the Sioux Nation v. the United States, was ruled upon by the U.S. Supreme Court.The court determined that, when the Sioux were resettled onto reservations and seven million acres of their land were opened up to prospectors and homesteaders, the terms of the second Fort Laramie treaty had been violated. The court stated that the Black Hills were illegally taken and that the initial offering price plus interest should be paid to the Sioux Nation. As payment for the Black Hills, the court awarded only 106 million dollars to the Sioux Nation. The Sioux refused the money with the rallying cry, “The Black Hills are not for sale.”
The United States continues on a daily basis to violate the terms of the 1851 and 1868 Fort Laramie treaties with the Lakota. The call to action I offer today is this: Honor the treaties. Give back the Black Hills. It’s not our business what they do with them.
My goal is to amplify the voices of my many Lakota friends and family on Pine Ridge, all of whom have advised me on this campaign.
More Than Mail: Rural Postal Service Threatened by Mimi PickeringAs the U.S. Postal Service faces financial crisis, Central Appalachia and much of rural America may be hard hit by pending closures of post offices and mail processing centers. To avoid bankruptcy, the Postal Service had announced plans to make reductions amounting to approximately $3 billion. Such drastic cuts would result in slower first class delivery and close hundreds of mail facilities nationwide. After public and Congressional outcry, USPS announced a moratorium on closures until May 15, 2012. In this expanded WMMT report customers at the Burdine and Premium post offices, two of the nine in Letcher County, KY on the closure list, describe what the service means to their communities while officials from the USPS and the American Postal Workers Union offer differing solutions to the Postal Service financial crisis.
The image above, taken by the USGS' Landsat 7 satellite on Sept. 25, 2000, is a false-color composite made using data from near infrared, red and green wavelengths and sharpened with a panchromatic sensor. The red areas actually represent the greenest vegetation. Bare soil or dead vegetation ranges from white to green or brown.
The image below is a simulated true-color shot from the same county in Kansas taken June 24, 2001 by NASA's Terra satellite. Bright greens are healthy, leafy crops such as corn; sorghum would be less mature at this time of year and probably a bit paler; wheat is ready for harvest and appears a bright gold; brown fields have been recently harvested. The circles are perfectly round and measure a mile or a half mile in diameter.
[Ada Smith of The New York Times] mentions an interesting gap in the Crystal Bridges collection--indeed an ironic one: "the almost complete lack of paintings by largely self-taught or folk artists."
This omission is especially noteworthy because rural America is so often associated with the common man, as well as with other connotations of folksy.
And, indeed, the museum is reaching out to the "common man" or--more precisely--the common child. Smith notes the museum's "ambitious education program, which will reach out to more than 80,000 elementary students in the area."
"I used to know 800 songs," Toelken says. "I had this stroke, and I had none of these songs left in my head. None of them were left."
But, Toelken says, he soon discovered that, with a little positive reinforcement, he could remember some of the forgotten music after all.
"A little bit at a time, I realized I still had the songs in my head," he says. "So now I meet with this group of friends once a week a week, and we sing.
I’m following the shortest possible path through all 99 counties, roughly counterclockwise around the state with the start and finish line both in Des Moines. As I type this Tuesday afternoon, I’ve hit 15 counties — or about 406 out of 2,738 miles on the official GPS itinerary.
Unlike a presidential candidate, I don’t have the benefit of a hired driver, plush bus or quick-fire stump speech. It also takes time to pry introspective views from Iowans in each county with persistent questions.
But also unlike a candidate, I’m not using these 99 counties as a steppingstone. My simple goal is to glean a more precise, updated sense of the state at the start of a new year.
Nikos Gavalas and Alexandra Tricha, both 31 and trained as agriculturalists, were frustrated working on poorly paying, short-term contracts in Athens, where jobs are scarce and the cost of living is high. So last year, they decided to start a new project: growing edible snails for export.
As Greece’s blighted economy plunges further into the abyss, the couple are joining with an exodus of Greeks who are fleeing to the countryside and looking to the nation’s rich rural past as a guide to the future. They acknowledge that it is a peculiar undertaking, with more manual labor than they, as college graduates, ever imagined doing. But in a country starved by austerity even as it teeters on the brink of default, it seemed as good a gamble as any.
When Cather published My Ántonia in 1918, the book was a major departure from the literary trends of the day. She not only strayed from the urban settings and themes that were fashionable at the time, but her characters were also new to contemporary American fiction—they were common folks and, even rarer for the time, many of them were immigrants, all presented with genuine dignity.
Under the invitation of Nora Guthrie, Woody’s daughter, to tour the Guthrie archives, each of the four songwriters were offered the chance to plumb and mine the plethora of notebooks, scratch pads, napkins, etc. for anything that might inspire them to lend their voices and give the words new life. “These guys worked on an amazing group of lyrics, much of it culled from Woody’s times in LA. Lyric wise, it’s a part of the story that is still mostly unknown. From Woody’s experiences on LA’s skid row to his later years in Topanga Canyon, they are uniquely intimate, and relate two distinctly emotional periods in his life.”The Library of Congress American Memory archives offer an overview of Woody Guthrie's sojourn in Los Angeles, where he performed on local radio station KFVD. His songwriting from this era sought to present the realities, and not the popular myths, of life in the golden west during the Depression:
Although the perceptions of California as a land of unmitigated opportunity had brought a rush of agricultural laborers from the South and Southwest in the mid-1930s, the reality was quite different. The great farms that stretched across California's rich valleys did need pickers, but so many hands were available that wages were pushed steadily downward, even if a family could find steady employment harvesting the state's many seasonal crops. The pickers lived in their cars, tents, or shacks they built out of whatever materials they could find. These camps were sometimes called "Hoovervilles" and the people in them "Okies."
Although Woody never lived in one of these camps, he did make his way to California as a "Dust Bowl refugee" and traveled around the state singing to the migrant laborers during the spring of 1938. He also sang at government camps that gave these people some measure of dignity, health, and safety.
i'd been talking with my buddy + fellow photographer, activist, q, about doing street art to raise awareness around the use of reclaimed waste water on the peaks. it's like, we've got the means to craft the message about the desecration of a sacred space and a method for disseminating that message, let's use it.
then one day while driving to flagstaff it hit me. i wanted to use images of elders to express how they felt about the situation. then, whatever they said, i'd excerpt a bit to write on their faces. now, what elders do i know who will let me do that? photographer, artist, activist, sam minkler was the first person i thought of. i called him by antelope hills, just north of town, and less than 2 hours later we'd knocked his session out.
sam said "...faces are sacred. faces are beautiful. we walk on the face of the earth. the mountain is a beautiful, sacred place that needs to be protected. in beauty i walk."
I don't know what happened to Bloom between the making of “The Oxford Project” and his online article. What happened to the grit and strength of people attempting to survive the hardships that life presents them?
What happened to the intelligence of people like Oxford’s Kathy Tandy, the wonderful sense of humor of people like Jim Jiras, the generosity of so many of my neighbors like Tonya Stratton Wehrle, the experiences of people who’ve suffered unspeakable horrors like Jim Hoyt and his son, Jim Jr., and the difficult life transitions met with great perseverance by people like Ben and Robin Stoker and grandparents Kathy and Darrell Lindley? What about the incredible and real family values of the Cox, Hennes, Stratton and Stockman families?
But relatively few rural Iowans are employed in the business of wind energy. The bulk of jobs here are low-income ones most Iowans don't want. Many have simply packed up and left the state (which helps keep the unemployment rate statewide low). Those who stay in rural Iowa are often the elderly waiting to die, those too timid (or lacking in education) to peer around the bend for better opportunities, an assortment of waste-toids and meth addicts with pale skin and rotted teeth, or those who quixotically believe, like Little Orphan Annie, that "The sun'll come out tomorrow."
Of all the traditional styles of Blues music being played today, perhaps the fife and drum bands of Northern Mississippi just may have the deepest roots. The percussive sounds are almost a direct link back to the Western Coast of Africa, where slave traders took their heaviest toll; a land where stringed gourds, woodwind instruments and drums played a major role within the communities, and the memories continued with the poor souls being brought to a new land. The fife and drum bands thrived in the Hill Country of Mississippi for many years, with standout performers such as Sid Hemphill and his granddaughter, Jesse Mae, Ed Young and Othar Turner. But, as the practitioners of this music have been passing on, the tradition appears to be dying.
Another key member of the fife and drum family departed this world on July 21, 2001, as Napolian Strickland died following a stroke. Strickland was arguably the premier fife player of the genre, having appeared at numerous festivals, on several recorded compilations and on film in the documentary, "The Land Where The Blues Began".