Q: Could you explain what you mean by the title phrase of your book, “our history is the future”?
I look at the Ghost Dance prophecy, which was an anticolonial uprising among particularly Lakota and Dakota people on the northern Plains in the late 19th century, but also a widespread spiritual movement that went up the west coast of Canada and down to parts of what is today Mexico. If they were completely harmless, then the United States wouldn’t have deployed its army against starving, horseless people at Wounded Knee. The reason it represented such a threat was not because Lakota and Dakota Ghost Dancers were going around and murdering white settlers — it was because it was a vision of the future. When you subjugate a people, you not only take their land and their language, their identity, and their sense of self — you also take away any notion of a future. The reason I chose this name is because in this particular era of neoliberal capitalism, it’s easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism. The argument I’m making is that within our own traditions of Indigenous resistance, we have always been a future-oriented people, whether it was taking up arms against the United States government, whether it was taking ceremonies underground into clandestine spaces, whether it was learning the enemy’s language. This pushes back against the dominant narrative that Indigenous people are a dying, diminishing race desperately holding on to the last vestiges of their culture or their land base. If that were the case, then I don’t think we would have an uprising such as Standing Rock or, today, Line 3 or Bayou Bridge, or the immense amount of mobilization around murdered and missing Indigenous women.
Jered might not have seen his son again before the Indian Child Welfare Act. For decades beginning in the 1870s, native children as young as 5 were forcibly removed from their families and sent to authoritarian boarding schools in an effort to “kill the Indian, save the man.” Tribal law expert Matthew Fletcher, who is Anishinaabe, explains that boarding schools fell out of favor beginning in the 1930s, but whites still viewed native methods of child rearing, as well as concepts of family and community, with deep suspicion, and children were removed from their families for nearly any reason. It became standard policy, Fletcher says, to adopt them out to white families, all with an eye toward white acculturation. Often, they were never heard from again. “The wholesale separation of Indian children from their families is perhaps the most tragic and destructive aspect of American Indian life today,” Congress declared in 1978. It passed ICWA after hearing hundreds of hours of testimony by tribal leaders and afflicted family members. By then, according to the National Indian Child Welfare Association, an estimated 25 to 35 percent of all native children had been removed from their families. Of those, 85 percent were placed in white homes, even, NICWA says, when suitable relatives were available.
This exquisite little book is actually two books in one – both thoughtful compilations of original poems, prose snapshots, memes, photos and “creative nonfiction,” all beautifully laid out on the page.
Mental Midgets contains a moving tribute to Native American musician, poet, philosopher and activities John Trudell, who died in 2015.
General themes covered in both books are colonization, the survival and resistance of indigenous people and the attitude of hopeful resistance all of us need to survive the barbarity and insanity of advanced industrial capitalism.
There are also thought-provoking quotations from fellow dissidents Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore, Lev Tolstoy, Chris Hedges, Kurt Vonnegot and Neil Young.
It’s the type of book I envision re-reading repeatedly over coming months and years.
Just half of Wolf Point’s Native students graduate from high school, compared with about three-quarters of their white peers. In June 2017, the Tribal Executive Board of Fort Peck filed a civil rights complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights requesting a federal investigation into its contention that the Wolf Point school system discriminates against Native students.
In her essay “Alone in Company,” Chelsea Bayouth reflects on the role of an artist at the end of 2018: “For me, it is to fear that every word or image is a window into public, political, and social tumult. It means you have to be more vulnerable than you or anyone in times previous has ever been…. Social capital is the currency, and if you have none you are poor. ”
The Ivory Coast is demanding that France return 148 works once looted from the country. The Ivory Coast’s culture minister, Maurice Bandaman, confirmed that a list of works were sent to France and are set to be returned in 2019. Bandaman also told Agence-France Presse, “At least 50 museums around the world have Ivorian works, and this does not include private collection,” indicating that France is not the only country with looted works. [Agence France-Presse]
A new work by Banksy has appeared at the back of a car garage in Port Talbot, Wales last week. Since then, crowds have gathered at the scene, with local authorities having to manage and organize the groups of people. Banksy claimed responsibility for the work on his website and Instagram. The garage is owned by Ivan Lewis, a local steelworker. “I’ve never experienced anything like this,” said Lewis. “My phone is ringing, on my house phone there’s 1,000 messages on it.” [Art Daily]
Shan Goshorn, “a Cherokee artist and activist known for her contemporary approach to traditional basket-weaving,” died of cancer at the age of 61. [Tulsa World]
Under a cloud of scandal… the toxic Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is gone (fired) (top photo)
Can we call it a year now? 2017 and 2018 wore me out. Cancer didn’t help but I feel woke enough.
02019 – please, do us a favor? Be kind to us. We deserve better!
Indigenous people and supporters gathered despite sub-zero wind chills for the 49th National Day of Mourning at Plymouth, Mass. The undaunted crowd included Indigenous peoples whom the pilgrims menaced and murdered — Nipmuc; Mashpee, Aquinnah and other bands of the Wampanoag; Narragansett; Massachusett; Pequot and other Indigenous nations…
I mentioned that I would have liked to been in freezing Plymouth…
The commemoration known as Plymouth 400 will feature events throughout 2020, including a maritime salute in Plymouth Harbor in June, an embarkation festival in September, and a week of ceremonies around Thanksgiving.
After the residents of Malaga were pushed out, the state bought the land for $471, according to Maine Coast Heritage Trust, and ordered the rest of the residents to leave by July 1. In 1913, the state sold the land to Everard A. Wilson, a friend of the doctor who had been the chair of a committee Plaisted had established to investigate the allegedly appalling conditions on Malaga. Malaga was for many years in private hands, but remained undeveloped. The hotel that had been planned for Bear Island, which Hamilton said was a key incentive for pushing the Malaga residents off the island, was never built.
A subsequent Associated Press article in The Los Angeles Times revealed that Ms. Thompson was not of European descent — as had been commonly assumed — but “a full-blooded Cherokee Indian” from Oklahoma. That detail, Ms. Meister said, raises the compelling question of whether “Migrant Mother” would have resonated so widely if viewers knew the subjects were Native American.
(another one of those “shake your head” stories, right?
☀️ I write something every. single. day.☀️
Is time speeding up?
I am still trying to figure out to talk about the twin books: Mental Midgets | Musqonocihte and why one book became two and how they happened so fast. (I have to thank my friend MariJo for telling me what I felt about urgency was to be trusted.) It’s a short book – 91 pages – but it feels MUCH longer.
I do think of this year 02018 as The Year I Had Cancer – this changed me mentally.
Was it five years ago when I started the Midgets book. I used to joke and say it might get done this century. Why? My goofy utter distrust, of course. Many of you are experiencing what I call wavy brain too. We don’t think about the future as much as before… and why is that? Read about the Long Now Foundation from earlier this year. Trump and electronics are both a BIGLY reason!
Back then I kept the book title under wraps. Mental Midgets, what does it mean? It’s absurd. It’s maybe kinda funny. It’s not about small people. But it is about our minds, the constant chaos, the news, Trump, cell phones, social media, and how it seems to me, at least, our brain capacity shrinks when memories go small. And then there is (hi)story to consider.
Here is a one sentence (short) book description:
This TWIN book is a collection of factoids, philosophy, quips, questions, code, quotes, photos, thought bombs, creative non-fiction, Native American history and prose. And it’s short. Musqonichte translates Blue Sky.
The code is a message. There are things in there you should know.
Happy 02019 – add that zero and I will be writing more soon!
Madrid – At the Museo Reina Sofía, the artist Luis Camnitzer has piled up a grid of 80 blocks, approximately 12 by 12 inches each, and wrapped them in brown gauze. Imprinted with the word “LEFTOVER,” followed by a Roman number, each block appears to have been shot, dripping fake, plastic blood on the museum’s floor. The piece, “Leftovers” (1970), is an homage to those of Camnitzer’s generation who died in the hands of the Uruguayan repressive state.
As an essayist, art critic, curator, teacher, lecturer and a creator of objects, actions and musical compositions, Luis Camnitzer’s multi-faceted work spans nearly 60 years… The work Failed Utopias gives the exhibition its name, at the express wish of the artist. Chiming with his usual irony, Camnitzer alludes to the ‘dark’ history of the Sabatini Building as a hospital and as a place for ‘lunatics, or the insane’. The retrospective also constitutes a time frame of Camnitzer’s utopia, which he defines as “a process through which one seeks perfection, where perfection, like a mirage, constantly grows distant at the same speed one believes oneself to be nearing it. Something similar to the revolution in the revolution”.
Born in Lübeck (Germany) and raised in Uruguay, Luis Camnitzer moved to New York in the 1960s, where he focused on his art, essays and teaching work. He is currently professor emeritus at the State University of New York. Camnitzer regards himself as a Latin American artist exiled in the contemporary art capital, and is unquestionably a key figure in the development of twentieth-century Conceptualism.
Hospice of Failed Utopias, the title of Camnitzer’s retrospective at the Reina Sofía, features 100 of his works produced since the 1960s.
Camnitzer’s newest piece, “About War” (2016–2018), considers the influence of military strategy in contemporary mappings of the world. “About War” juxtaposes quotes from Carl von Clausewitz’s military strategy treaty On War with Google maps locations of US military bases in Latin America. Zaya cites from Camnitzer’s emails: “We are now returning to the most reactionary kind of nationalist fragmentation, […] all of this within the context of a kind of neo-feudalism, where the weapon industry is provoking new military clashes.”
The boundary lines for multiple land treaties cross the state of Michigan. The boundary lines for multiple land treaties with native tribes cross the state of Michigan.
It was 1823. The land of Michigan wasn’t yet a state. The indigenous people far outnumbered the white settlers. The Erie Canal hadn’t opened. The flood of European immigrants was yet to arrive.
But the groundwork for their arrival was set in 1823 by the U.S. Supreme Court in a case about property rights. The case: Johnson v. M’Intosh.
On the fourth floor of the Michigan State University law school building, on a windowsill that overlooks the campus, Wenona Singel (top photo) keeps her family photos. Singel is a law professor here, and associate director of MSU’s Indigenous Law & Policy Center.
Family is the reason she went to law school, she says.
When she was young, she was separated from her sister in what she says was a coerced adoption. It’s a familiar story in many native families.
“And, in my mind, understanding the operation of our legal system and the development of federal Indian law and policy was absolutely critical,” she says.
So when she got older, she went to law school — at Harvard.
All first-year Harvard law students had to take a class on property law. That is where Singel first heard of the landmark case known as Johnson v M’Intosh.
“The original Johnson of the case was actually a former Supreme Court justice, and a wealthy shareholder in the Illinois and Wabash Land Company,” Singel says. “And this land company had speculated in the purchase of Indian lands.”
It purchased those lands directly from the tribes. At that same time, the U.S. federal government was out trying to get land from tribes. It negotiated treaties with the tribes. Once the government got the land, it would parcel it out to sell to settlers.
So along comes this settler named M’Intosh. He buys from the government. But the land he buys, well it’s already been bought, by the Illinois and Wabash Land Company.
Remember, that’s the group of wealthy investors that buys directly from the tribes. And Johnson is a part of that group. So Johnson bought from the tribe.
M’Intosh bought from the U.S. government.
The question before the Supreme Court: Who really owned the land now — Johnson or M’Intosh?
It’s an easy question if you think the tribe owned its land in the first place. Because if the tribe owned it, it could sell it to the Illinois and Wabash Land Company, Johnson’s group. Johnson wins.
But the real question was whether the tribe owned the land in the first place. Did they even have the power to sell it?
“And, to the surprise of the lawyers and shareholders in the Illinois and Wabash Land Company, Justice Marshall in the Johnson v. M’Intosh case declared that the tribes did not have this power.” Singel says. “And that they only had the power to transfer their property to the federal government.”
That was the official legal ruling for the United States government: that native people did not actually own the land they’d lived on for thousands of years.
M’Intosh won because he had bought from the federal government. Justice Marshall argued the federal government was the true owner of the land all along.
The indigenous people of the U.S. had some rights on their land. They had the right to use and occupy it. But they couldn’t sell it on the open market because they didn’t really own it. That was the official legal ruling for the United States government: that native people did not actually own the land they’d lived on for thousands of years.
And yes, this decision had a huge impact.
If and when native people ever did want to sell their land rights, there was only one buyer they could turn to. That meant the buyer had the upper hand in the negotiations over price.
It was a rigged deal.
Singel learned all of this as a busy, stressed, first-year law student.”In many ways, it’s almost like gaslighting,” Wenona Singel says of the Johnson v. M’Intosh case. “You’re learning about … certain rights that are associated with property rights … knowing all along that these rights have not been respected, and were not enforced for your own ancestors.”
“And then you move on to the next case,” she says. “And there’s no further discussion of the wrong that this perpetuates. And also the flawed reasoning. And also fundamentally misinformed and racist presumptions that our property legal system is based upon.”
And this isn’t some obscure case. It’s foundational in the U.S. legal system. Most law schools teach it to all their students in the first year.
“The tribes of Indians inhabiting this country were fierce savages, whose occupation was war, and whose subsistence was drawn chiefly from the forest. To leave them in possession of their country was to leave the country a wilderness.”
This language, and the precedent it established, has never been overturned in America’s legal system. It is valid law today.
“Imagine if Plessy v Ferguson was never overturned,” Singel says. “Imagine if Dred Scott was never overturned … We’ve never had any kind of accounting and justice that has restored those original property rights.”
After Johnson v. M’Intosh, the early white leaders of Michigan drafted a series of treaties with the native people of the area. These documents would have the tribes sign their land over to the federal government.
Lewis Cass was Michigan’s second governor. He negotiated a number of the treaties. In the late 1820s, he advocated the forced removal of the land’s native people. In his argument, he echoed the words of Justice Marshall. He claimed if white people didn’t rule the land, Michigan would be doomed:
“A tribe of wandering hunters, depending upon the chase for support, and deriving it from the forests, and rivers, and lakes, of an immense continent, have a very imperfect possession of the country over which they roam ,” Cass argued. “That they are entitled to such supplies as may be necessary for their subsistence, and as they can procure, no one can justly question. But this right cannot be exclusive, unless the forests which shelter them are doomed to perpetual unproductiveness.”
Cass didn’t get his wish for removal. But he did eventually get treaties.
And the white people did make the land productive, in their way.
The same as they had done in all of the Americas, says Willie Jennings of Yale Divinity School. They did what they believed their God wanted them to do.
“The way they looked at the land, from the very beginning, from Michigan to Maine, from Virginia to Florida, they looked at the land as the world-in-potential that needed development,” Jennings says. “And that development was always tied to what can be taken from the land.”
In Michigan, a land of dense, ancient forests, they could take a lot.
What a whirlwind. Who knew that one doctor appointment could turn into several and then a major surgery and cancer diagnosis?
I will be getting a second opinion on that diagnosis (Stage 1A grade 3 uterine cancer) on June 26th in Boston. One can never be too careful. (Radiation was suggested as one follow-up option.)
It’s weird I have not been sick, or felt sick. I do have sharp pangs in healing this humongous scar from the bellybutton and south. (30 staples in my gut was no joke) I’m healing the insides now. It takes time.
As for how I feel, I feel it’s over. I am done with oncologists, surgeons, and doctors for now, even if I have to visit them over the next few months.
I was up and walking the night of surgery at 1:30am on May 14, and the nurses were kinda shocked at how fast I was recuperating. They let me out on the 16th and all my vitals were/are good. Even my blood pressure is spectacular. Which is a very good thing.
From here on out… I will be taking big doses of Vitamin D and Zinc now that I am a cancer survivor. And of course my holistic doctor Dr. Lynch has been with me every step of the way. (I highly recommend you see a holistic MD, if you can find one. They have a whole body, patient-centric approach and use more than western medicine to help your body heal and recuperate and be the best you can be…)
Sadly, my darling husband looks like he needs sleep. He was with me at every appointment and of course, was worried and I love him for that, knowing his love, care and concern helped me heal this so well, so fast.
All your thoughts and prayers really worked, too, my blog family. I am living proof. Love moves mountains and heals what it touches…
I may not be blogging as much since I am supposed to be walking, not sitting. Dang, that’s no good. I have blogs to read and research to do and books to read….
BUT… I’ll be back as soon as I can 🙂
(I have so many new posts to share with you… but they’ll have to wait…)
In 1922, the Newberry Library acquired this collection of 160 drawings, attributed to “Sioux Indians” living in Fort Yates, which serves as headquarters of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The three boxes of art were sold by one Aaron McGaffey Beede, an Episcopal missionary who had provided paper and art supplies to the residents he had come to know, and paid them small sums to purchase the resulting works. This strange exchange arose from a dire situation: in the winter of 1913-14, the Lakota faced starvation from failed crops and a mysterious disappearance of cattle. These drawings, for them, carried exceptional value linked to survival; today, they represent significant records of indigenous self-representation as well as cross-cultural exchange.The entire collection is now available to examine online as part of the Newberry’s new open access policy that has so far made over 1.7 digital images available for unrestricted and free use. The drawings, specifically, are part of the Edward E. Ayer Collection, which comprises artworks, books, and other materials related to American Indian history and culture.
Removing a person’s name was a means of erasing their identity and imposing a “social death” that transformed enslaved persons into property rather than living individuals. Both historians and museum professionals have begun to realize the need for revising the way we frame and label the past, and to support this movement within museums.
…White people in every part of early America directly or indirectly benefitted from the “peculiar institution” of slavery. It created wealth for white families and oppressed the African-Americans forced to perform labor in service to them. This labor allowed wealthy men and women the luxury of free time and money to get their portraits painted at a hefty price by a well-known artist. As Athens notes, museums have the power to engage with an underscore this part of American history: “I think museums can play a part in social justice movements through honest, clear-eyed reassessments of the stories they tell, what those stories privilege, and what they obscure.” Restoring people of color to American museums isn’t just about editing collections or artwork on display, it must also address the labels we have attached to them for hundreds of years.
What took so long??? Massachusetts museums, thank you!
“Transformation Mask” does not simulate a specific Indigenous ceremony, but its digital transformation of the gallery is meant to emulate the experience of dancing and wearing a transformation mask. “The mask is about bridging, and my intent really was to bring the non-Indigenous viewer into that cultural world,” Hunt told Hyperallergic. “When you go look at our masks you are generally going to a gallery or museum, and in that context the masks are not masks but rather sculptures, not something you can wear or interact with.”
The Audain Museum calls “Transformation Mask” a “hybrid between the physicality of a transformation mask and the ephemeral experience of being part of the transformation.” But the installation, and transformation masks in general, might better be understood as an interface. “They are an interface with the unseen, whether it be the spirit world or the internet,” Hunt said. Through his creation, the viewer briefly inhabits another experience, another world and culture.
Yet, the recent all white male history conference held at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University seems to suggest a return to history’s dark age as a gentlemen’s protection society. Happily, the strong and growing presence of and disciplinary focus on women in history as well as the sharp criticism and condemnation (and rightly so) of the exclusive conference make clear that a return to great white men history and historians is a fantasy. Even so, the holding of this conference and others of its kind reflect the ongoing challenges women historians and women history face. The CCWH strongly condemns the choice of holding an all-white, all-male conference at Stanford University, and expresses concern regarding its implications for the historical profession and for its treatment of women in history.
When the news about the protest at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation against the Dakota Access Pipeline burst into the spotlight in 2016, Tristan Ahtone welcomed the chance for greater coverage of Native American issues.
Hello Everyone! I think we will have spring here in western Massachusetts eventually. Not soon but someday. The MA state government is now addressing our urgent need to address climate change. Good thinking! Last month, a Massachusetts judge found 13 activists who were arrested for sitting in holes dug for a pipeline to block construction “not responsible by reason of necessity” because the action was taken to avoid serious climate damage. See the “Valve Turners” video here. (States step up better than the feds.)
I saved up some good reads that I hope you enjoy.
As much as I want to believe we are making progress on rewriting history with a more balanced view on the invasion and conquest of North American, I am reminded (by the story above) that the history industry is still a white male occupation, mostly. If you really think about this, this is really human rights abuse with creating a one-sided less-dreadful history for schoolkids. Museums in Massachusetts and other cities are finally waking up.
We have a long way to go but a new journey has begun.
Good news: My brilliant colleague Mark Trahant (Shoshone-Bannock) has joined the Indian Country Today newspaper as editor and they are up and running and publishing again! Thanks to the National Congress of American Indians who bought the national Native newspaper from the Oneidas in New York. Here’s a great OP-ED by Associate Editor Vincent Schilling (Mohawk) on rewriting history.
I contributed an OP-ED to Indian Country Today on the Baby Veronica case a few years ago. Mainstream media wasn’t interested in publishing me or my views, despite the fact I’d studied adoption history, the Indian Adoption Projects (and this case) and published relevant anthologies (more than one!).
Expect great things from Mark and Vince on their new publication! Go take a read!
Thanks to everyone for reading this long post! XOX
Something interesting in going on in Canada’s parks in 02018:
Mohawk curator and scholar Lee-Ann Martin has participated in all of these modes of support in the past. But this summer, she is taking a very different approach—namely, putting the art of 50 Indigenous women artists on 167 billboards from coast to coast to coast.
Coast to coast to coast… 01 June 2018 – 01 August 2018… Interactive map and full website launch on 01 May 2018
How do you make the work of First Nations, Inuit and Métis women artists in Canada more visible? Some people write research papers. Some people build collections. Some people advocate for funding. Mohawk curator and scholar Lee-Ann Martin has participated in all of these modes of support in the past. But this summer, she is taking a very different approach—namely, putting the art of 50 Indigenous women artists on 167 billboards from coast to coast to coast.
“Having Indigenous women’s art writ large in public…along the country’s roadways and in urban centres” is vital, says Martin. “I really see the project as synonymous with Indigenous women’s work as defenders of the land,” she notes, with “the other, more practical intent [being] for people to realize the breadth, depth and diversity of Indigenous women’s art and how important it is today.”
A Complete List of the 50 Artists in “Resilience” : KC Adams, Kenojuak Ashevak, Shuvinai Ashoona, Rebecca Gloria-Jean Baird, Mary Anne Barkhouse, Christi Belcourt, Rebecca Belmore, Jaime Black, Lori Blondeau, Heather Campbell, Joane Cardinal-Schubert, Lianne Marie, Leda Charlie, Hannah Claus, Dana Claxton, Ruth Cuthand, Dayna Danger, Patricia Deadman, Bonnie Devine, Rosalie Favell, Vanessa Dion Fletcher, Lita Fontaine, Melissa General, Tanya Harnett, Maria Hupfield, Ursula Johnson, Bev Koski, Nadya Kwandibens, Mary Longman, Amy Malbeuf, Teresa Marshall, Meryl McMaster, Caroline Monnet, Lisa Myers, Nadia Myre, Jade Nasogaluak Carpenter, Marianne Nicolson, Shelley Niro, Jeneen Frei Njootli, Nigit’stil Norbert, Daphne Odjig, Jane Ash Poitras, Annie Pootoogook, Sherry Farrell Racette, Sonia Robertson, Pitaloosie Saila, Jessie Short, Skawennati, Jackie Traverse, Jennie Williams, Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson, Gid7ahl-Gudsllaay Lalaxaaygans
Writing in all its forms is a scary act; it makes us vulnerable and exposes our softest parts to a world not known for its gentleness. But there’s magnificent power in that vulnerability, and it’s deserving of acknowledgment. And I’m filled with such deep joy each time another powerful voice joins the Indigenous literary world. I hope you’ll think of these words as an honoring and a hope for the important work you’re about to undertake.
In both Canada and the US the mainstream literary scene tends to hold up one or two Indigenous writers at a time, while leaving the rest to fend for themselves. It’s important to help one another, to uphold one another’s work, to celebrate successes and grieve losses, to engage in this beautiful struggle together.
I’m sure you have had enough of the political news (no joke) so I humbly attempt to bring you something new and different like the stunning billboards above. Of course there is lots going on, including more and more conspiracy theorists online, end days scares, A.I. has won (crapola), and what is up with all the mermaid stuff (dear god no no no). OK, some days I don’t even want to sit at a computer.
I do follow many many many blogs but I do want you to read Asshole Watching Movies and their latest coverage of SXSW: Isle of Dogs.
And just as the fighting was privatised, so too was the propaganda. In 2016, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism revealed that the Pentagon had paid around half a billion dollars to the British PR firm Bell Pottinger to deliver propaganda during the Iraq war. Bell Pottinger, famous for shaping Thatcher’s image, included among its clients Asma Al Assad, wife of the Syrian president. Part of their work was making fake Al Qaeda propaganda films. (The firm was forced to close last year because they made the mistake of deploying their tactics against white people). (No Joke!)
The Long Now Foundation was established in 01996* to develop the Clock and Library projects, as well as to become the seed of a very long-term cultural institution. The Long Now Foundation hopes to provide a counterpoint to today’s accelerating culture and help make long-term thinking more common.
The Clock and Library Projects
Below is an essay by a founding board member Stewart Brand on the need for, and the mechanism by which, The Long Now Foundation is attempting to encourage long-term thinking:
Civilization is revving itself into a pathologically short attention span. The trend might be coming from the acceleration of technology, the short-horizon perspective of market-driven economics, the next-election perspective of democracies, or the distractions of personal multi-tasking. All are on the increase. Some sort of balancing corrective to the short-sightedness is needed – some mechanism or myth which encourages the long view and the taking of long-term responsibility, where ‘long-term’ is measured at least in centuries. Long Now proposes both a mechanism and a myth.
It began with an observation and idea by visionary computer scientist W. Daniel Hillis : “When I was a child, people used to talk about what would happen by the year 02000. For the next thirty years they kept talking about what would happen by the year 02000, and now no one mentions a future date at all. The future has been shrinking by one year per year for my entire life. I think it is time for us to start a long-term project that gets people thinking past the mental barrier of an ever-shortening future. I would like to propose a large (think Stonehenge) mechanical clock, powered by seasonal temperature changes. It ticks once a year, bongs once a century, and the cuckoo comes out every millennium.”
Such a clock, if sufficiently impressive and well-engineered, would embody deep time for people. It should be charismatic to visit, interesting to think about, and famous enough to become iconic in the public discourse. Ideally, it would do for thinking about time what the photographs of Earth from space have done for thinking about the environment. Such icons reframe the way people think.
Hillis, who developed the “massive parallel” architecture of the current generation of supercomputers, devised the mechanical design of the Clock and is now building the monument scale version of the Clock in the Sierra Diablo range of West Texas near the town of Van Horn. The first Clock prototype is currently on display at the London Science Museum and others are at the headquarters of Long Now in San Francisco. The Clock’s works consist of a specially designed gear system that has precision equal to one day in 20,000 years, and it self-corrects by “phase-locking” to the noon Sun.
Long Now added a “Library” dimension with the realization of the need for content to go along with the long-term context provided by the Clock – a library of the deep future, for the deep future. In a sense every library is part of the 10,000-year Library, so Long Now is developing tools (such as the Rosetta Disk, The Long Viewer and the Long Server ) that may provide inspiration and utility to the whole community of librarians and archivists. The Long Bets Project – whose purpose is improving the quality of long-term thinking by making predictions accountable – is also Library-related. The point is to explore whatever may be helpful for thinking, understanding, and acting responsibly over long periods of time. – Stewart Brand
Another generative work called Bloom, created with Peter Chilvers, is available as an app.
Part instrument, part composition and part artwork, Bloom’s innovative controls allow anyone to create elaborate patterns and unique melodies by simply tapping the screen. A generative music player takes over when Bloom is left idle, creating an infinite selection of compositions and their accompanying visualisations. — Generativemusic.com
Out of Eno’s involvement with the establishment of The Long Now Foundation emerged in his essay “The Big Here and Long Now”, which describes his experiences with small-scale perspectives and the need for larger ones, as well as the artist’s role in social change.
This imaginative process can be seeded and nurtured by artists and designers, for, since the beginning of the 20th century, artists have been moving away from an idea of art as something finished, perfect, definitive and unchanging towards a view of artworks as processes or the seeds for processes — things that exist and change in time, things that are never finished. Sometimes this is quite explicit — as in the late Walter de Maria’s “Lightning Field,” (above) a huge grid of metal poles designed to attract lightning. Many musical compositions don’t have one form, but change unrepeatingly over time — many of my own pieces and Jem Finer’s Artangel installation “LongPlayer” are like this. Artworks in general are increasingly regarded as seeds — seeds for processes that need a viewer’s (or a whole culture’s) active mind in which to develop. Increasingly working with time, culture-makers see themselves as people who start things, not finish them.
And what is possible in art becomes thinkable in life. We become our new selves first in simulacrum, through style and fashion and art, our deliberate immersions in virtual worlds. Through them we sense what it would be like to be another kind of person with other kinds of values. We rehearse new feelings and sensitivities. We imagine other ways of thinking about our world and its future. keep reading
Hey everyone! I joined the board of directors of Greenfield Artspace this past week and coming up is the annual Pottery Sale, the big fundraiser of the year. I am so happy to be working locally and to help grow their music and arts programs for kids. Hearing a small child play a violin – so good – such a great feeling!
Which leads me to this: I know the news has impacted all of us. Our precious children, our teenagers, and the families and community in Florida are living the aftermath of yet another mass shooting. Yes, the shooter is an adoptee, which is not as much an issue for me as the entire gun safety issue and his mental illness. He is deranged. The shooter was ready to explode and no one did anything to stop him but his friends tried, calling police TIPS lines and the FBI. Crazy people don’t know they are crazy, but friends do notice. The Florida shooter’s friends made numerous calls to the police. Now 17 people are dead.
In the aftermath, don’t feed the shooter’s deranged sick ego demands. You might remember this advice DON’T NAME THEM.
The Intercept has an excellent article about the student movement. READ HERE. For years, gun manufacturers and industry-supported associations have focused their energy on transforming young Americans into the next generation of shooters.
Fear sells weapons, obviously, since people rush out to buy a gun after every mass shooting at the mere mention of losing the constitutional right to buy an AR15. It’s expected gun sales will surge following this shooting and any future mass murder event. Last year, gun sales were down.
Major Gunmaker Admits “Heightened Fears” of Crime and Terrorism Help Sales [Formerly known as Smith & Wesson, American Outdoor is the parent company of gun maker that manufactured the assault rifle, an AR-15, used in the Parkland school shooting.] top photo
The Ritual of Silence in an Age of Mass Shootings
Gun Industry Describes Mass Shootings Like Orlando as a “Big Opportunity”
Gun Industry Executives Say Mass Shootings Are Good for Business
So what do we do with broken systems and broken people? We let the survivors tell us. And we listen. And then we act.
After any major attack, you are likely to find in some dark corner of the internet conspiracy theories that the survivors or victims made it all up or were part of a troupe of paid “crisis actors.” Such theories emerged after the massacres in Las Vegas in October; at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., in 2016; and at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in 2012.
It happened again this month, after 17 people were killed in the school shooting in Parkland, Fla. Those conspiracy theories have been amplified in the internet age, but they are a part of a long, troubled history of dismissing the voices of those seeking change. “This theme that anyone agitating for change must be either an outside agitator or must have been paid or put up to it is one that runs throughout American history,” Kevin M. Kruse, a history professor at Princeton University, said in a phone interview. Conspiracies of this kind quickly circulated about the Florida shooting, with one top-trending YouTube video suggesting, falsely, that one of the survivors was a hired actor. The video’s caption tapped into the idea that student protesters were paid to advocate gun control, and Mr. Kruse pointed his followers on Twitter to a decades-old analog: In 1957, civil rights supporters had to dispel rumors that nine black children seeking to integrate Central High School in Little Rock, Ark., were being paid for their activism.continue…
Just a block from the South Street Seaport in Lower Manhattan, you’ll find an unassuming storefront surrounded by a sea of high-end restaurants and retail. The Black Gotham Experience’s home base may look out-of-place, but it’s actually exactly where it belongs. Black people first arrived via ships docking in the area, were sold on the Wall Street Slave Market a few blocks away, and worked on the ships and built Broadway, Trinity Church, and the original City Hall on Wall Street, among other public works. (What’s now Washington Square was once known as Land of the Blacks.)
In the public imagination, slavery was long considered a scourge of the South, perpetuated by white slave owners who ran vast cotton and tobacco plantations that exploited shackled Africans bought and sold as property.
In reality, as a new publicly searchable database reveals, wealthy Dutch merchants in Albany routinely owned slaves that they used for domestic chores and to run their farming operations outside the city. There were 3,722 slaves of African descent listed in the 1790 census in Albany County, for instance, the most of any county in the state at the time. Many can be tracked in the first-ever New York Slavery Records Index, which was released last week by John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. It is the most detailed demographic portrait yet of slavery across the state. Its release coincided with the beginning of February’s Black History Month.
More than 35,000 records were compiled and they are searchable by the names of slave owners, individual enslaved people, manifests of slave ships arriving at the port of New York and as fugitives who sought freedom in the state along the Underground Railroad. The database begins in 1525 and continues through the end of the Civil War in 1865.
“These records are an extremely important contribution to our understanding of slavery in New York. They will help us tell the history of enslaved people in a more complete and compelling way,” said Heidi Hill, site manager at the state-run Schuyler Mansion in Albany, home of Revolutionary War Gen. Philip Schuyler, who was the father-in-law of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton. The database shows that Schuyler owned 13 slaves at his South End mansion in 1790 and another four slaves worked on his farm in Saratoga County.
Andria Segedy, February 24, 2018, Savannah Morning News
The Owens-Thomas House and the Davenport House museums continue to build on reinterpretation of what they have been sharing about the residents — the free and the enslaved — of those houses during their early years. Finding their documented history remains a challenge.
“Our tours, as you have observed, have transitioned to being focused on the lives of the free and enslaved who have lived in the home,” according to Shannon Browning-Mullis, curator of history and decorative arts for Telfair Museums, which includes the Owens-Thomas House.
“White descendants are much easier to find because of the records that were kept,” Browning-Mullis said. Richardson was a slave trader, shipping slaves out of the Port of Savannah to the Port of New Orleans. It was an interesting conversation, she said.
“Part of what we are doing, to think about the fact we are telling these stories not of abstract fictional characters but of real people who lived and worked in the house,” she said. “Their descendants on both sides are probably still in this community.”
“A major part of the responsibility as historic site stewards in this community is a deep consideration of how we talk about the institution of slavery and the experiences of people who were enslaved,” according to Telfair Museums.
A panel of experts will discuss this during a free public forum March 8 at the Jepson Center. “A Conversation about Interpreting Slavery in a Historic City” will include Browning-Mullis along with other panelists: Jamal Toure, board member of George Liele Visions Inc. (nonprofit of First African Baptist Church); Jamie Credle, director of the Davenport House Museum; and Shawn Halifax, cultural history interpretation coordinator of Charleston (S.C.) County Parks. It will be moderated by Porchia Moore, inclusion catalyst for the Columbia Art Museum in Columbia, S.C.
But is (tRUMP) the most dangerous president ever? Is he really so outside the norm of the policies of his predecessors? The short answer, when it comes to substance and policy, is: not yet. Harry Truman dropped not one, but two nuclear bombs. Multiple presidents continued the war on Vietnam, killing tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers and more than a million Vietnamese. Have we forgotten the secret bombings of Cambodia and Laos, the CIA Phoenix Program, and the widespread use of Agent Orange? The dirty wars in Central America? The global assassination operations?
“Don’t name them” – Criminologist asks journalists to help stop mass shootings
…In our research, Eric Madfis and I have identified three major consequences of the media coverage. One, it creates a kind of competition for mass shooters to maximize the number of victims they kill. The second is that it’s rewarding these offenders with fame and attention, which is often what they want – it serves to give them a legacy. Even if they die, they may be remembered, according to their distorted views, as someone who mattered, as a somebody rather than a nobody. […]
READ: MASS SHOOTINGS: “Don’t name them” – Criminologist asks journalists to help stop mass shootings – Journalist’s Resource
Montreal Sixties Scoop victims from 1951 to 1991 can seek assistance from National Indigenous Survivors of Child Welfare Network regarding $$ settlement
As a project for Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Prof. Val Napoleon created the Indigenous Law Research Unit – her proudest work to date. It allows Indigenous communities to articulate and restate their law and legal processes – a model that has been taken up across Canada and beyond.
The 20th anniversary of the Delgamuukw decision arrived in December, and Prof. Napoleon looks back on those two decades and sees a country that is still working its way toward reconciliation with its Indigenous peoples.
I can’t fix zombies, but I’m writing with GOOD NEWS about nuclear weapons. 2017’s escalating nuclear threats have returned the chronic, outrageous danger to the public’s attention, where it belongs. Reasonable people are scared – and angry. But there have been underreported events in 2017 that require both celebration and action.
1.) The historic Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was agreed at the United Nations on 7/7/17, by a margin of 122-1, making nuclear weapons ILLEGAL across the globe. The United States and the other eight nuclear-armed countries (who all boycotted the Treaty negotiations) will soon find it difficult to manufacture, finance, and maintain their outlawed arsenals without the cooperation of the rest of the world. This will happen whether they sign the treaty or not.
2.) The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, a coalition of 468 organizations in 101 countries, facilitated the Treaty – and their efforts were recognized with the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize.
3.) Here in the Valley, ICAN activists at NuclearBan.US and TheResistanceCenter.org are helping US citizens, organizations, cities, and states become compliant with the Treaty, putting pressure on manufacturers, complicit financial institutions, and governments to comply with international law.
The nuclear weapons states may continue to feed us a steady diet of fear, hopelessness, and illogical rationales for the continuing existence of these unthinkable (but profitable) weapons of mass destruction. But the world is rising up, and the age of nuclear weapons will come to an end soon, hopefully before it’s too late.
Well, it’s been an interesting month so far. We nearly froze to death with sub zero temps across New England. It reminded me of waiting for the school bus in northern Wisconsin when I was a kid – at minus 20 degrees. No one likes it that cold. Not even kids.
It got me thinking of when my parents Sev and Edie bought land on Crystal Lake in Wascott, Wisconsin in the late 70s. The land had been scorched from a forest fire and Sev had to plant numerous trees along the borders of their new lake house. Edie drew up plans with her brother Frank, an architect-builder in Aurora, Illinois.
When the house was nearly finished, I’d moved back from my musician stint in New York City in 1980. I had a downstairs bedroom and big window where I could see their friend Bob’s house and beyond that, a back bay where there was a public boat launch, a local bar and not much else. There were many other cabins and second homes on this lake but my parents had a corner lot and where their house was, you could only see north and the beach/swamp across or look east at the lakeshore. Walt and Jeannie had a house near Bob’s but we could not see it, and it was a few doors away from the Crystal Lake Campground, which is still there!
When I moved back to stay with Edie in 1996, the lake and land had shifted. From that same window I could see across the lake and the last house on the west side of the lake was now visible – at night, I could see their large outdoor light. Puzzled, I talked with Bob about this and he had noticed how his house was no longer visible from our house. I could see the front of his house and deck plainly in the 1980s, and now it was not visible.
The reason I am bring this up? This is how impermanent land can be – and what is under our feet can move and does shift.
And it also reminds me how our Native ancestors (pre-colonization) moved around, farmed and fished and hunted in one area but wintered somewhere else. The early inhabitants on North American soil had territories, of course, but didn’t own the land. They camped and moved as necessary for their survival. That necessity could happen again – to everyone.
The Inuit say the earth has shifted: Elders wrote to the National Space and Aeronautics Administration (NASA) to tell them that the earth’s axis has shifted: the sun no longer rises where it used to rise. They inhabit the far northern reaches of the Canadian Arctic and have done so for centuries. The area they inhabit is almost continually frozen under a layer of permafrost. For months at a time, their days begin and end in darkness. A nomadic people, they built tents or teepees of caribou skin in warmer months, and lived in igloos in the winter.
There is talk of a coming Ice Age. (This has nothing to due with human impact on climate change, more so the activity of the sun and how solar cycles impact our climate as well.)
Check this out for fun- this Gwendolyn Brooks “we real cool” animated video
Between 1670 and 1715, more Indians were exported into slavery through Charles Town than Africans were imported.
Counting can be difficult, because many instances of Native enslavement in the Colonial period were illegal or ad hoc and left no paper trail. But historians have tried. A few of their estimates: Thousands of Indians were enslaved in Colonial New England, according to Margaret Ellen Newell. Alan Gallay writes that between 1670 and 1715, more Indians were exported into slavery through Charles Town (now Charleston, South Carolina) than Africans were imported. Brett Rushforth recently attempted a tally of the total numbers of enslaved, and he told me that he thinks 2 million to 4 million indigenous people in the Americas, North and South, may have been enslaved over the centuries that the practice prevailed—a much larger number than had previously been thought. “It’s not on the level of the African slave trade,” which brought 10 million people to the Americas, but the earliest history of the European colonies in the Americas is marked by Native bondage. “If you go up to about 1680 or 1690 there still, by that period, had been more enslaved Indians than enslaved Africans in the Americas.”
What history book has covered this? On a grand scale too (this was posted on Slate in January 2016) More people need to read up on this topic… HERE
A dark-skinned black girl walking into an empty horror museum in the middle of the desert? What could possibly go wrong?
Much like Nish and Clay, “Black Museum” also puts us face to face with past realities like the gynecological experimentation of enslaved Black women, the Tuskegee syphilis experiment in the 1930s, and the forced sterilization of Native American women in the 1970s and beyond. It’s horror histories like these that make this episode so daunting.
One can’t help but compare it to our current desensitized culture where Black deaths are widely spread across the internet like a Worldstar fight. Black people dying at the hands of injustice has become so commonplace that our world feels like simulated, too. Troy Anthony Davis. Eric Garner. Sandra Bland. Tamir Rice. Mike Brown. Trayvon Martin. The list is endless.
But whether we’re romanticized for our sexual prowess, idolized for our artistic “eye”, or straight up demonized and locked away, make no mistake—”Black Museum” is an episode about mental incarceration.
In this popular episode, we’re presented with a symbolic reckoning against a system that remains unscathed.
Some were so shaken they couldn’t finish the episode. Alternatively, some made the fundamental errors of either confusing depiction with validation, or insisting that stories about the privations inflicted on black people only belong to black people and therefore dismissed the story as racist.