Friday, July 31, 2009
So here's my gripe.
John M. Barry, author of The Great Influenza, published by Viking: 2004 Chapter One, page 11:
"The nation was then ... engaged in different wars simultaneously... In the Dakotas, George Armstrong Custer had just led the Seventh Cavalry to its destruction at the hands of primitive savages resisting encroachment of the white man."
My objection is the casual use of the term "primitive savages" used in the introductory pages of a lengthy book whose subject is the great influenza epidemic of 1918. Did the author and the editor and the publisher never wonder if this particular racial slur and misrepresentation of a culture have any business in this particular book? Did they assume that no Native American persons would EVER read this particular book; no medical doctors, no professors, no high school teachers, no students? I'm not personally suggesting that John M. Barry, his editor, nor his publisher (Viking) should be "politically correct." I'm stating emphatically that the use of this terminology is inaccurate and a blatant misrepresentation of the people who were struggling to protect their homes, culture and families against violent attack.
Let me interject a quote from another book I've just finished reading:
Joseph M. Marshall III, author of The Journey of Crazy Horse, published by Penguin-Viking (same publisher of both books) 2004 Afterword, page 28:
"...the "an Indian is an Indian is an Indian" view of indigenous cultures... They know nothing of the reasons Indians fought so hard to protect their lands and their lives."
The people who "fought so hard to protect their lands and their lives," and their culture, were definitely not primitive; the Lakota were one of many nations on this continent whose entire way of life was based on religion, philosophy and art, and who had, among other myriad attributes, an extensive history of the understanding and use of a pharmacopoeia of medicines and medical practices.
The irony that I happened to be reading these two books concurrently is worth noting. As the Lakota say, "Life moves in a circle." Everything is connected. And if you're planning on using an outdated racial slur, don't slip it into a book published in the 21st century.
Monday, July 20, 2009
I remember the mountain
where mountain trees are tall and wild
with glittering leaves like jewels in blinding sun.
Deep shadows abide beneath those towering trees;
somber shadows where secrets rest,
Scattered there are ancient odd-shaped stones,
covered over with moss and willful vines
like strong, possessive arms entwined.
The old dirt road curves along cool, shadowed places,
beneath wild cherry, sweetgum and hickory branches,
emerging into sunlight’s blazing blast;
red sand soft and warm underfoot.
Huge sandstone boulders, summer-hot,
perfume the mountain air with fragrance like no other,
and the smell makes my mouth water,
and the air moves around me, gently caressing
like mountain spirits whispering blessings.
A rough-barked tree shimmers, engulfed, heat laden,
its gnarled exterior shredded and tattered
by a bobcat whose sharpening claws,
over time, have left deep enduring scars.
Birds trill, noisy in the bushes, and
insects hum like a choir of tiny whirring machines.
They are calling up magic, singing incantations
of mysterious joy as dark clouds gather
out of the heavy, languid grip of Alabama summer.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
On her blog, Blackberry Creek, my sister Susan chose The Painted Possum to receive this nifty Kreative Blogger Award, which I receive with glee! Now I must list seven things I love. The dificulty lies in narrowing down my choices.
2. Lightning bugs. The First Lightning Bug Night is one of my favorite celebrations each spring.
3. Fresh cut lumber. Love to smell it! I love waking up in the morning to the smell of fresh wood and the sound of hammering.
4. Rocks. I dig in my yard a lot just to see what kind of rocks may be unearthed. My house is full of rocks of every size and description. I have mysterious rocks, rocks I've stolen, rocks I've painted, rocks people have given me, rocks I've fought over, rocks I've lost.
5. Turtles. I find turtles to be enigmatic and amazing.
6. Marbles. Just as the rocks, my house is full of marbles of every size, age and description. I have mysterious marbles, marbles I've dug out of the ground, marbles I've stolen, marbles I've won, marbles people have given me, marbles I've fought over, marbles I've lost.
7. China dishes. Can't ever have too many sets of dishes. Once my daughter, Buffy, told my best friend, C.J., "Mama has dishes all over the house. She even keeps them under her bed." and C.J. replied "Well, of course she does!"
Now, if I could just locate some dishes with possums on them!
Thursday, July 2, 2009
When Alexander and Hephaistion went to meet Sisygambis, she prostrated herself at the feet of the most kingly figure. She chose by mistake the taller Hephaistion! Alexander is said to have responded rather pleasantly: "Don't worry mother, he is Alexander too."