Reflections about the Importance of Knowing Our History

Years ago, when I was forced to confront the egregious representation of Indigenous People in the public school my daughter had attended, I read an interesting book by David Wrone and Russell Nelson, Jr. (1982). “Who’s the savage?” The school district decided to sue me, along with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction as a co-defendant, to prevent the use of “The Pupil Nondiscrimination Statute” to end the demeaning name and cartoonish images they used to promote their high school.

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I spoke with Dr. Wrone, who, along with a distinguished list of other scholars, agreed to be an expert witness in the case. They were never called to testify. I was not allowed by the judge to testify, either. Only the courageous pro bono attorney from ACLU who agreed to represent me was allowed to speak on my behalf as I sat silently beside her. The school district won the case, but lost the larger battle in a later ruling by the State Attorney General. Although I could not use the statute to end the school district’s use of racist caricatures, others could use the statute to challenge local school districts in the future, and many did. (My first post on this blog describes the process in more detail.)

I was reminded of this experience when I watched the following video that features a friend, Carl Gawboy, an Ojibwa scholar and artist.

What’s killing Minnesota’s moose?

YouTube suggested two more.

Why the US Army tried to exterminate the bison

And

How the US stole thousands of Native American children

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I leave you with a question that, tragically, is still relevant today. “Who’s the savage?” Who will benefit by erasing history about the true costs of invasive colonialism across the globe?

Work Cited

David R. Wrone & Russell S. Norton, Jr. (Eds.). Who’s the Savage? Malabar, FL: Robert E. Krieger Publishing Company.

Reflections – September 10, 2021

What I noticed this morning …

As I took my morning shower,

I had to fiddle with the faucet

to get the right water flow and temperature

gratitude struck me as the warm water

massaged an achy neck

and I wondered

“What percentage of the world population can take a warm shower in their own home?”

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Curious, I googled the question and found an interesting list of responses. I think it’s worth sharing the first 9 to illustrate something important – at least it’s how goggle’s search engine assesses my interests. I added links for each entry below in case anyone is interested in some of these topics.

  1. Which Country Showers the Most – https://www.mirashowers.co.uk/blog/trends/which-country-showers-the-most/
  2. 60 percent of the world population still without toilets – https://slate.com/technology/2013/02/60-percent-of-the-world-population-still-without-toilets.html
  3. Bathing Habits of the World – Soakologyhttps://www.soakology.co.uk/blog/bathing-habits-of-the-world/
  4. How Often People in Various Countries Shower – The Atlantichttps://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/02/how-often-people-in-various-countries-shower/385470/
  5. The peculiar bathroom habits of Westerners – BBC Newshttps://www.bbc.com/future/article/20191004-the-peculiar-bathroom-habits-of-westerners
  6. Global WASH Fast Facts/Global Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene – https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/global/wash_statistics.html
  7. See Fewer People. Take Fewer Showers – The New York Timeshttps://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/06/health/shower-bathing-pandemic.html
  8. Population and environment: a global challenge – Curious – https://www.science.org.au/curious/earth-environment/population-environment
  9. 2.1 billion people lack safe drinking water at home, more than … – https://www.who.int/news/item/12-07-2017-2-1-billion-people-lack-safe-drinking-water-at-home-more-than-twice-as-many-lack-safe-sanitation

This list was surprising to me. I don’t think goggle’s search engine views me as a serious scholar even though I have been online a lot recently looking for research articles as I graded student papers and updated course materials for the undergraduate research course I teach.

I’m curious to know how google would respond to you if you ask this question. I hope you will try and let me know what you find, although it may take some time for me to respond back to you. The first class meets tomorrow via Zoom! A busy semester awaits as the students in my class craft a research proposal and actually conduct a little study. Their studies will need to be done remotely to keep them safe given the current COVID context.

Something else I noticed today:

reflection about privilege september 10 2021

One of the last blooms, a Coneflower or Echinacea, a North American native that is fairly deer and drought resistant

Reflections – September 9, 2021

Greeting the morning from my porch

gazing at the drought-yellowing leaves

highlighted by the rising sun

without a whisper of breeze to move them

muted calls from geese in a practice formation

flying toward the dark western sky

signals of the changing season

reflections september 9 2021

I realize how deeply saddened I am

by the growing distance and silence between us

work is my only solace

as it has been through the years

now especially so during these troubling times

of ever-increasing confusion and fear

looking deeper within for strength and vision

to keep walking this “lonesome valley”

Reflections – August 30, 2021

Grateful for the privilege

to sit peacefully at my computer

while others flee from bombs,

fires, floods, and devastating storms

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Grateful for small things I can do

to make the world a little kinder

by sharing the bounty my gardens yield

with those who wait in line for food

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waiting in line for food August 2021

Reflections – August 25, 2021

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A misty morning view of the front yard gardens – 8/12/2021, 5:59 am.

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How we treat the world around us

expresses profound differences

in what we learned to value

by forces outside of our control

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august 25 2021

A sunny midday view from the back yard – 8/25/2021, 12:23 pm.

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The challenge remains how to peacefully

and patiently coexist with others

whose values are not the same

for reasons outside of their control

Reflections from the Margins – August 15, 2021

Honestly, there are times

when I prefer not to bridge cultures

to make thoughtless people feel comfortable

for behaving in ways that are childish,

offensive, invasive, or disrespectful to others

because they take their unearned

unquestioned privilege for granted

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I reserve the power to simply walk away

without a glance or comment

and let them think what they will

but sometimes I feel called to stand

with others in solidarity against insanity

the sad fact is that self-absorption

has a toxic impact on everything else

and threatens life-sustaining connections

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Protect Our Water (Stop Enbridge Line 3) Demonstration in Duluth, Minnesota on September 28, 2019 – an ongoing issue https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/aug/10/protesters-line-3-minnesota-oil-gas-pipeline

Edited to add an important information shared by Diane Lefer:

August 17th (this Tuesday) there will be solidarity actions in several cities around the US. (Especially for health and science workers, but all are welcome) Check out the map and links, please: https://sites.google.com/view/healthagainstline3/home?emci=1785537b-51f9-eb11-b563-501ac57b8fa7&emdi=4f4f27c2-1dfa-eb11-b563-501ac57b8fa7&ceid=155049

Reflections – August 8, 2021

As the beginning of the fall semester draws near, I find myself remembering “The Clicker.”

If you haven’t read this old post, you might find it interesting. The post describes one of the encounters I had during my years working as a faculty member in academia. I survived those years by writing fieldnotes and reflections to record what I witnessed and experienced. For obvious reasons, I couldn’t share what I wrote then. One of the reasons I began blogging about six years ago was to finally share some of the stories. Although I did my best to remove all personal identifiers, one person did recognize a few of the protagonists since she, like me, was a target of theirs because she was different.” Today, one of those experiences came to mind and inspired the following reflection.

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as she stood by the cutting board

slicing up an old apple

before it finally became too rotten to eat

she found herself once again

looking back at her social awkwardness

chuckling about petty colleagues

who thought they were

meting out punishment by

ostracizing her from their social gatherings

when in reality, from her perspective,

they were actually sparing her discomfort

from the meaningless small talk

she would have had to endure otherwise

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august 8 2021

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I am truly grateful that I retired early and now have the gift of a position teaching groups of diverse, amazing students with the support of competent, supportive colleagues. But it’s time for me to get back to the apple before it turns even browner…

Reflections July 12, 2021

On the homeward stretch

of my solitary morning walk today

I saw two young women walking their dogs

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Words I heard a month ago

given voice by a lonely soul

came to mind

“I used to walk my dog…”

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I used to walk my dog, too

For the third day, I am walking alone

not knowing what to do with my empty hands

They used to hold my little dog’s leash

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for Pinto 1

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Some days I have followed the familiar routes he chose

other days, I have expanded my horizons

remembering our times together as I walk

with both sorrow and deep gratitude

for the wounded soul who trusted me to care

despite a previous life of abandonment and abuse

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I used to walk my dog

Now I walk to give thanks for our time together

and will continue to explore old places and new

with a different perspective that he helped me discover

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for Pinto 3

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For my Beloved Companion, Pinto

Born September, 2010 – Adopted October 29, 2013 – Died July 9, 2021

July 4th, 2021 – Reflections about contining rewounding

Not long ago, I wrote a poem

when I was contemplating a move

to a new home with my family

“I wonder … whether you will still love me

if I risk sharing who I can be

in moments of deep reflection

that sometimes make living difficult

in a world that is too busy, distracted, noisy

to listen deeply to the quiet songs of life?”

It turns out that this was a pivotal question

that helped me decide what I needed in my life

in order to stay balanced and hold center

in these tumultuous times

I realized I already live somewhere

that meets my needs at least partially

– a little cottage with a small plot of land

where I can create gardens to tend

despite the work that takes

in ever uncertain weather

surrounded mostly by people too busy

to even notice trees, flowers, and birds

except for elders who take time

to see and appreciate what youth cannot

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July 4 2021 1

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As I was watering gardens this evening

during another stretch of heat and drought

sandwiched between intermittent rain

sometimes gentle and sometimes a deluge

I realized that the lack of care I notice

for others and the earth in this neighborhood

is a constant source of rewounding,

a reopening of spirit-deep woundedness

in this windigo (wetiko) culture that celebrates “freedom”

to exploit the earth and people for profit

with firecrackers exploding on this day

with odes to “the rockets’ red glare

My heart is touched by the beauty and wonder of life

yet with each day of neglect and misuse

I feel the life force ebbing

as I wait for someone to simply sit with me

and listen deeply to the songs of nature

before it’s too late

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July 4 2021 2

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The art of deep listening, a gift shared by a deep friend:

Dadirri –

“The deep inner spring inside us. We call on it and it calls on us.”

(Dr. Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr)

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