Tag Archives: North Dakota Humanities Council

Updates on Aaron Beede and UND’s Digital Press

One of the only known 6:23AM screen shots from the NDDOT road conditions website on January 21, 2015.

One of the only known 6:23AM screen shots from the NDDOT road conditions website on January 21, 2015.

It’s about 6:20AM (at least as I sit down to type), and the snow is letting up. I’m sitting in a hotel room in Minot, Ward County, North Dakota, on the eastern edge of the Bakken. I have a short field-research trip to the west, but I’m temporarily yielding to the ND Department of Transportation’s road conditions map. Which appears like this, at left. I’m updating this blog post with a couple items on my brain.

The first is another public history sighting of Reverend Aaron McGaffey Beede, PhD. Beede figures seriously in the history of North Dakota, and only a handful of scholars have sifted through his papers. Last week, during a lunch meeting in the Peacock Alley, in historic downtown Bismarck, I sat at a table and looked over the picture to my left. In addition to offering delicious food (I ordered the half-prime rib lunch special with chips), the owners of the historic Peacock Alley have reproduced numerous local historical photos to hang on the walls. This was one of them. There is a gentleman addressing the legislature, with cigar in left hand. I accidentally cut out of the photo the ash tray at the foot of the podium. Believe me: it was there. Those were different times.

Beede

Note the ND legislator from the ’20s or ’30s, with cigar in left hand, and the nameplates on the desks behind him. “Beede, Grand Sioux” is behind him.

Behind that, behind the name Saumur of Grand Forks, is “Beede, Grand Sioux” agency or county. It was great to see the photo, and that is about all I have on it right now. I’ll do some more tracking on this. Beede figures into a chapter of my ongoing dissertation which, roughly, figures into how and why the US-Dakota Wars were remembered on the northern Great Plains. Beede was formative in shaping and pushing that memory in one direction, arguing just after the turn of the 19th century that Natives need to be listened to and allowed to tell their version of history. It was serious push-back against the Social Darwinian and Manifest Destiny crowd (some of which is still around today).

And finally, the third item is a hot-off-the-digital presses book, the second title from University of North Dakota’s The Digital Press, Visions of Substance: 3D Imagining in Mediterranean Archaeology (edited by Bill Caraher and Brandon Olson). The work is an anthology of blog posts Caraher charged guest writers with publishing at his blogspot linked to here. Susan Caraher edited the blog posts to comb out any of the craziness that is inherent in on-the-spot blogs. Caraher and Olson told the guest writers to respond to the following questions in each post. The questions include:

  1. How do we understand the current crop of 3D modeling technologies in the context of the history of archaeological imaging? Are the most optimistic readings of this technology a mere echo of earlier enthusiasm for photography in an archaeological context or is this somehow qualitatively different?
  2. Is there an emerging consensus on best practices of 3D imaging of archaeological sites? What are the current limits to this kind of technology and how does this influence the way in which data is collected in the field?
  3. How do we understand archival considerations for 3D models and their dependent data? For example, what happens when we begin to prepare archaeological illustrations from 3D models collected in the field and processed using proprietary software? How do we manage the web of interrelated data so that future archaeologists can understand our decision making?
  4. What is the future of 3D modeling in archaeology? At present, the 3D image is useful for illustrating artifacts and — in some cases — presenting archaeological and architectural relationships, but it has yet to prove itself as an essential basis for analysis or as a viable medium for communicating robust archaeological description. Will 3D visualization become more than just another method for providing illustrations for archaeological arguments?

Without going further into this (it’s about 6:50AM, and I need to move forward with the morning), you can read the entire collection of academically produced and academically edited and academically published essays, for free, at this link here. Thanks Bill and Brandon and Susan for compiling this. I know there will be many more.


Josh Rushing and the North Dakota Humanities Council

Tayo, NDHC board member and Bismarck State College Professor of Philosophy, at the Game Changer event in downtown Fargo, North Dakota.

Tayo, NDHC board member and Bismarck State College Professor of Philosophy, at the Game Changer event in downtown Fargo, North Dakota.

I’m in my 4th year of board membership with the North Dakota Humanities Council, and it is a duty I feel a privilege to be part of. This last Thursday (10/09/2014), the NDHC kicked off the first annual Game Changer series, a signature event that will continue to be hosted every October in cities throughout North Dakota (the 2015 Game Changer will be in Bismarck). This year’s Game Changer was titled, “Between Two Worlds: America and the Mid-East,” and the NDHC brought together a collection of journalists, poets, authors, and reporters in downtown Fargo. We also received some outstanding support from Forum Communications, Ecce Art Gallery, the HoDo, The Bush Foundation, and Wells-Fargo. This funding and donation of space helped the assembled group speak to an audience throughout the day, and also to have smaller round-table discussions that evening.

After the evening round table discussion, it was photo time with Josh Rushing (r).

After the evening round table discussion, it was photo time with Josh Rushing (r).

One of the speakers was Josh Rushing, a Marine Corps officer of 15 years and a current reporter with Al Jazeera English. I had a chance to take in Josh Rushing’s talk, and it resonated with some of my own ongoing research. I focused on Josh’s points about how the media presents stories today, and how there are infinite voices that do not make the immediate story. I thought about this in the context of the US-Dakota Wars, and how the media — the St. Paul Pioneer and the New York Times — presented a more sensationalized and monolithic version of the story in contrast to the complexities inherent on the ground and at the scene. This makes sense from a reporters standpoint, though, since they are trying to communicate a complex story in a very quick way to an audience that is already mentally and spatially disconnected from the event. At least that is one thought I had, a kind of then and now.

If you want to look into a bit of my research, you can click on this link here. Otherwise, below is about 7 minutes of video from Rushing’s talk at The Fargo Theatre from October 9, 2014. As well, if you enjoy this, and you think it is a good idea that the NDHC continue having these sorts of events, you’ll want to click here and donate. Any amount helps. One of the NDHC’s ideas is modest: we just want to create a more informed North Dakota. To do that, though, requires me to admit that there is a lot out there that I do not know. It’s Socratic in that way: I know that I don’t know, and I’m here to listen, and here to take in what others have to say, and give. But again, enough of that. Check out Rushing’s talk below. And watch “Control Room” (2004) if you want more. I’ve got “Korengal” (2014) in the Netflix queue for this Wednesday, and I’m wondering how it will build off my knowledge of “Waltz with Bashir” and “Restrepo.”


Friends in Fargo this Weekend

It’s about 3:23PM, so I thought I’d break just a moment for tea and a blog entry to throw out a little PR for some colleagues and friends.

Two events are going down in Fargo this Saturday, March 15. Well, wait a minute: certainly there are more than two events going down in Fargo this Saturday. But here are the two events that I know of right now, this Monday afternoon. The two that I’m going to talk about. You should definitely go see other events, too, above and beyond this.

The first event is a benefit for a friend and scholar, Mike Casler. Mike was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2011, and he’s been through a battery of surgeries and radiation treatment. Mike, along with a bunch of us, are gathering at The Bowler in Fargo (2630 South University Dr.) anywhere from 4:00-11:55PM for the official Mike Casler Benefit Fund — again this Saturday, March 15. Also, Mike is the author and historian of several upper Missouri River scholarly works, including Steamboats of the Fort Union Fur Trade: An Illustrated Listing of Steamboats on the Upper Missouri River, 1831-1867 (Ft. Union Association, 1999); and he regularly collaborates and conspires (in a good way) with the Great Plains titan of anthro, archaeology and history, W. Raymond Wood (some of Ray’s works here, here, and here, and his memoirs here).

And also on Saturday, March 15, Keith Bear will be playing Mandan-Hidatsa flute at 8:15PM in The Avalon. This is a part of the larger Great Winter Crow Show organized by Dawn and the Spirit Room Galleries. Also check that out from 5:00-10:00PM. You can read more about Keith at this link here. The event is sponsored by the Avalon Event Center, the Lake Region Art Council, and the North Dakota Humanities Council.

Okay, that was a 5-minute blog post update. Back to it.


Dakota Goodhouse’s Winter Counts

Chapter 4 of "The Year the Stars Fell: Lakota Winter Counts at the Smithsonian" (2007).

Chapter 4 of “The Year the Stars Fell: Lakota Winter Counts at the Smithsonian” (2007).

In the last couple days, Dakota Goodhouse (his blog, which you’ll want to visit, linked here) and I have been hanging out in downtown Fargo, as he’s in town to expand on the Native tradition of winter counts. He crashed at my place for a couple nights, and last night we had dinner over here after his short talk at the Spirit Room (this was organized and funded through a collaboration between the Fargo-West Fargo Public Schools Indian Education program and the North Dakota Humanities Council). Dakota and I chatted more about winter counts, and about future prospects of scholarly interest and inquiry.

I’m thinking that winter counts, and the history of them, have become popular enough that I don’t really need to explain them. But just in case, a winter count is an annual pictograph painted onto the larger medium of buffalo or elk hides. In the latter part of the 19th century, they were painted onto canvas. These counts provided the owner or memory group with a traceable past, the pictograph often representative of a successful high-point of that year.

Dakota Goodhouse explains the stories reflected by and attached to the pictographs on the bison hide.

Dakota explains the stories reflected by and attached to the pictographs on the bison hide.

While Dakota explained the winter counts to the group at the Spirit Room last night, he pointed to one of his buffalo hides while expanding on how he saw something different in that particular account. This particular account is a symmetrical series of triangles running around the circumference of a circle. Some years ago, Dakota said he used to think of this as a war bonnet laid out on the floor. Today, though, he said it also looks like the plains indigene narrative attached to what we call “sun dogs.” One of the stories that he knows is that the sun dogs are thought more of as camp fires next to the sun.

These various stories got me thinking at least two related things that are slightly polemical. The first is something we deal with every now and then, and that’s one-dimensional thinkers who sometimes say, “Well, cultures with oral traditions don’t have a history, or if they do it’s impossible to trace.” This is always a fun question to respond to, but last night I was thinking more-so of how a person who reads a novel, or a good piece of history, are likely to walk away with a different perception about the same piece of scholarship within the span of two or more readings.

A picture of Dakota being hilarious.

A picture of Dakota being hilarious.

This is similar to the winter count. Dakota explained the difference in how one individual, when looking at the bison robe laid out, might see a native headdress while another might see sun dogs, parhelia, or what the Dakota call wi’aceti, this roughly translated and defined as “when the sun makes fires.” Dakota added that the winters on the northern Great Plains are so cold that the sun requires camp fires to keep it warm.

From here on out I decided to abandon the sun dog phrase and replace it with wi’aceti (pronounced, roughly, “we-ah-che-tee”). If anyone wants to join me on the northern Great Plains in this effort, by all means. If we hear someone say “sun dog,” please feel free to add wi’aceti to that, and with explanation.

Also, Dakota contributed heavily to a piece of winter count scholarship that yo might be interested, chapter 4 of Candace Greene and Russell Thornton, The Year the Stars Fell: Lakota Winter Counts at the Smithsonian (Lincoln: U of Nebraska Press, 2007).


Post Un-Conference in North Dakota

We — the royal North Dakota humanities scholars We — just concluded an informal state-wide humanities get-together in downtown Fargo, North Dakota. It provided a venue to bring a large cross-section of North Dakotans together, pack them into one room, and get them talking about various projects they work on, this to generate unforeseen collaborations for future projects and programming.

Individual attendees came from a variety of institutions, and I’m not going to group them because the conversations cut across all sorts of arts, humanities, and social scientific lines. Scholars came from Williston State College, Minot State University, Sitting Bull College, Holden Village, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, The Arts Partnership, Cardno ENTRIX, the North Dakota Council on the Arts, UND’s Scrap Iron Press, the Plains Art Museum, the First Sudanese Lutheran Church, Concordia College, the Bush Foundation, Bismarck State College, Candeska Cikana Community College, the German-Russian Country Tri-County Tourism Alliance, Prairie Talks, the North Dakota House of Representatives, Trefoil Cultural and Environmental, the ND American Civil Liberties Union, the Red Door Art Gallery & Museum, Cinema 100, the North Dakota Women’s Network, New Rivers Press, Preservation North Dakota, the Dakota Resource Council, the University of North Dakota, the Greater Grand Forks Community Theatre, Meadowlark Arts Council, North Dakota State University, the Northern Plains Ethics Institute, crack scholar Ken Smith from Ellendale, North Dakota, Prairie Public Radio, the State Historical Society of North Dakota, and the North Dakota Humanities Council. Here is a panoramic of it at one point.

Unconference

So that happened. And at the outset I didn’t really know what to expect. But it turns out that there are a lot of arts, humanities, and social scientific scholars on the northern Great Plains primed for this kind of discussion, and it was excellent to hear and see state-wide relationships being formed with individuals who had no idea that such potential collaborative relationships could even exist. Who knows what will come from a conversation? I say this to myself from time to time. The previously unforeseen has been realized, though, and a true genesis happened in numerous ways over the last couple days. More on all this down the line for sure.


Humanities Updates from the Northern Great Plains

CHRBefore this morning gets away from me, I thought I’d provide two humanities updates taking place in the great state of North Dakota, central North America. The first is a link-reference to the progress of our Punk Archaeology manuscript; and the second concerns the official press release from NDSU’s Center for Heritage Renewal on our continued Dakota book discussions. Of this latter, the discussions bring together the public and scholars to consider the Dakota Conflict and the subsequent punitive campaigns from 1862-1864, and where we, Native and non-Native relations, are today.

For more details, check out the uploaded hand-bill image to the left. Of this, the most recent discussion took place this Sunday past at the Opera House in Ellendale, Dickey County, North Dakota. This brought out a variety of topics, and the most attentive-grabbing and engaging at all of these events is that of Native historians and knowledge-keepers and scholars. After Tamara St. John, a Native historian and genealogist, spoke at this event, an attendee remarked on how (and I’m paraphrasing) they are starved for this kind of information.

For those of us up to our elbows in the history and historiography of the US-Dakota Conflict and Wars, we understand and often wrestle with accurate and precise and appropriate terminology, definitions, and so on. When we chat about this stuff with non-specialists, one of the most common remarks I have heard is this: “How come we weren’t taught any of this — attempted genocide, attempts at cultural destruction, attempts at forced assimilation — in our public education here in North Dakota, Minnesota and South Dakota?” I’m uncertain. But I do always insist on using attempts and attempted when talking about genocide, cultural destruction and assimilation. I do this because the Dakota, Lakota and Nakota, the Seven Council Fires, are alive and well today. We are pushing ahead as well with these discussions, and every time we have another conversation and chance to talk about this, legitimate history is happening. And if that is happening, so is that large, amorphous thing we call culture and the humanities.

When it comes to the public school systems, I’m sure there are plenty of politics behind all of the curriculum decisions from yesteryear and now. Perhaps that is something we in the future can consider, and perhaps in the future bring before various departments of public instruction in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. That would be at least one long-range goal to consider.

Nonetheless, the next discussion will be held at 2:00PM (CST) on November 10, 2013, at Sitting Bull College,  in the Science and Technology Center Room 120/101, Fort Yates, Standing Rock Reservation, North Dakota. And here is a photo from the discussion from last Sunday.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


Weekend Line Up

Before logging off and hitting the northern Great Plains segment of Eisenhower’s Interstate system this morning (a grand piece of Federal infrastructure reform from the late 50s and 60s), I thought I’d give a line up as to what is in store for this weekend. Molly and I will first be heading from Fargo up to Minot, North Dakota. We’ll stay with Jessica Christy (Molly’s good friend and my cousin), and I may even have a chance to get over to Walt Piehl’s cowboy poet bar, The Blue Rider. At least for a beer or two and some conversation with, perhaps, fellow Frenchman Todd Reisenauer. Both Christy and Piehl are professors of art at Minot State University, and both are artists from and for the northern Great Plains.

Molly and I will return to Fargo on Saturday, and then on Sunday it is back out on the road to Ellendale, North Dakota (west from Fargo to Jamestown, then south on Highway 281 for about an hour). We are heading to Ellendale to begin and continue another public conversation that considers what happened 150 years ago with the US-Dakota Wars, and where we want or ought to go with the conversations today. These events are sponsored by North Dakota State University’s Center for Heritage Renewal, and the North Dakota Humanities Council, and they bring together a variety of professionals, Native historians, and the public. Gotta run now, but a follow up at some point next week on all this.