North Dakota honors agent who tried to shield Kennedys
By BLAKE NICHOLSON
Friday, October 5
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The Secret Service agent who used his body to shield first lady Jacqueline Kennedy the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated will receive the highest honor bestowed by his home state of North Dakota.
Former agent Clint Hill will receive the Theodore Roosevelt Rough Rider Award during a future ceremony, Gov. Doug Burgum announced Friday.
Hill was in the Dallas motorcade as a member of the first lady’s detail Nov. 22, 1963, when President Kennedy was shot and killed. He leaped onto the back of the presidential limousine to shield the Kennedys from any additional shots. The Treasury Department, which oversaw the Secret Service until 2003, honored him with its highest award for bravery a month after the attack.
Hill, 86, served in the Secret Service from 1958 to 1975 — a span that covered the Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Ford administrations.
“His exemplary record of service at the highest level of national security continues to inspire pride and respect among North Dakotans, and we are deeply grateful for his lifetime of service,” Burgum said in a statement.
Hill was born in Larimore, in eastern North Dakota, and now splits his time between Virginia and California, according to his spokeswoman.
“It is an honor to be recognized by your home state, and North Dakota has always been my home,” Hill said in a statement. “Growing up in North Dakota, the values of hard work, dedication, integrity and the importance of public service instilled in me by my family and community served me well throughout my career.”
The Theodore Roosevelt Rough Rider Award is named in honor of the former U.S. president who ranched and hunted in North Dakota and credited his time in the state with preparing him for the White House. Roosevelt led a volunteer cavalry unit in the Spanish-American War called the Rough Riders.
Hill will be the 44th recipient of the award. Some others who have received it include bandleader Lawrence Welk, New York Yankees slugger Roger Maris, NBA player and coach Phil Jackson, western author Louis L’Amour, singer and actress Peggy Lee, newsman Eric Sevareid and former U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher.
Burgum, a former Microsoft executive, received the award in 2009, before he became governor. Portraits of award recipients hang in the North Dakota Capitol.
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TOM RIELAND RE-ELECTED TO PBS BOARD OF DIRECTORS
COLUMBUS, OHIO, October 5, 2018 — Tom Rieland, General Manager of WOSU Public Media in Columbus, has been re-elected to the PBS Board of Directors in Arlington, Virginia.
The fourteen professional directors on the 27-member board are public television station leaders elected by their peers. “The on-the-ground insights of our professional directors help to ensure that we are able to deliver a valuable public service that is unique in the media landscape and reflects local communities,” said PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger. “We are delighted to welcome all of our new and returning board members as we work to continue the mission of public media.”
“I’m honored to be elected to another three-year term on the board,” said Rieland. “The election is a reflection of the national reputation WOSU has built as one of the strongest public media operations in the country.” Rieland has served as General Manager of WOSU Public Media, a licensee of The Ohio State University, since 2002. In addition to serving on the PBS Board of Directors, he is on the board of the United Way of Central Ohio and president of the Ohio Educational Television Stations.
PBS, with nearly 350 member stations, offers all Americans the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and digital content. Each month, PBS reaches over 90 million people through television and 30 million people online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; to hear diverse viewpoints; and to take front row seats to world-class drama and performances.
About WOSU Public Media
WOSU Public Media is a community-supported, noncommercial network of public radio and television stations, and digital services. To learn more, please visit wosu.org.
How the loss of Native American languages affects our understanding of the natural world
October 5, 2018
Rosalyn R. LaPier
Associate Professor of Environmental Studies, The University of Montana
Rosalyn R. LaPier does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
The University of Montana provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.
Alaska has a “linguistic emergency,” according to the Alaskan Gov. Bill Walker. A report warned earlier this year that all of the state’s 20 Native American languages might cease to exist by the end of this century, if the state did not act.
American policies, particularly in the six decades between the 1870s and 1930s, suppressed Native American languages and culture. It was only after years of activism by indigenous leaders that the Native American Languages Act was passed in 1990, which allowed for the preservation and protection of indigenous languages. Nonetheless, many Native American languages have been on the verge of extinction for the past many years.
Languages carry deep cultural knowledge and insights. So, what does the loss of these languages mean in terms of our understanding of the world.
Embedded in indigenous languages, in particular, is knowledge about ecosystems, conservation methods, plant life, animal behavior and many other aspects of the natural world.
In Hawaiian traditions and belief systems, for example, the tree snails were connected to “the realm of the gods.” Hawaiian royalty revered them, which protected them from overharvesting.
The Bishop Museum in Honolulu holds a shell necklace, or lei, of Queen Lili‘uokalani, the last monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaii. It is made from tree snail shells, which signifies the high rank of female royalty. Wearing a shell was believed to provide “mana,” or spiritual power and a way to understand ancestral knowledge.
Many of these snails are now extinct and those remaining are threatened with extinction. Scientists are working with Hawaiian language experts to learn about the belief systems that once helped protect them and their habitats.
A tool for doctors
Words in indigenous languages can have cultural meanings, that can be lost during translation. Understanding the subtle differences can often shift one’s perspective about how indigenous people thought about the natural world.
For example, as an indigenous scholar of the environment, I led a team some years ago of language experts, elders and scholars from Montana and Alberta, Canada, to create a list of Blackfeet words, called a lexicon, of museum objects. The elders I worked with noted that the English word “herb,” which was used to describe most plant specimens within museums, did not have the same meaning in Blackfeet.
In English, the word “herb” can have numerous meanings, including a seasoning for food. The closest English word to herb in Blackfeet is “aapíínima’tsis.” The elders explained this word means “a tool that doctors use.”
The hope is that the lexicon and audio files recorded in the Blackfeet language that our research helped create, might assist future scholars access the embedded meanings in languages.
Blackfeet word for face paint.
Saving vanishing languages
Many Native American communities in the United States are now working to save these cultural insights and revitalize their languages.
In Wisconsin, an Ojibwe language school called “Waadookodaading,” translated literally as “a place where people help each other,” immerses its students in the environmental knowledge embedded in the language.
The Ojibwe believe that theirs is a language of action. And the best way for children to learn is by doing and observing the natural world. Each spring, for example, the students go into the woods to gather maple sap from trees, which is processed into maple syrup and sugar. These students learn about indigenous knowledge of plants, their habitats and uses.
Students from Waadookodaading School making maple syrup.
Language loss can be considered as extreme as the extinction of a plant or an animal. Once a language is gone, the traditional knowledge it carries also gets erased from society.
Efforts are now underway worldwide to remind people of this reality. The United Nations has designated 2019 as the “International Year of Indigenous Languages” in order to raise awareness of indigenous languages as holders of “complex systems of knowledge” and encourage nation states to work toward their revitalization.
The loss of indigenous languages is not Alaska’s concern alone. It affects all of us.
I have mixed feelings about this. I strongly agree that the loss of any source of information, be it a culture, a species, a book, or a language, is a loss to humanity. On the other hand, I recognize that preserving information has a cost. Now, if you’re just archiving information in digital form, the cost is pennies per terabyte and falling, so by all means let’s digitize and archive everything in sight.
But the costs of preservation can be higher for other kinds of information. Let’s consider a hypothetical case of a subspecies that occupies a few hundred acres of land sitting on top of a huge deposit of some valuable mineral. The mining company would love to dig that mineral out of the ground, but it would drive that subspecies extinct. Is the value of the information of the subspecies greater than the value of the mineral? How can we make that determination?
In the case of languages, we can digitally preserve the vocabulary and grammar of a language, but not the culture that it embodies. The only way to truly preserve the language is to preserve the culture. So, if we want to preserve one of the hundreds of languages in highland New Guinea, do we build a big wall and lock the people in so that their culture won’t be altered by modern culture? Can Native Americans truly preserve their culture – and hence their language – by commingling with Westerners? Surely there is degradation of that culture caused by mixing it with other cultures.
From the point of view of the individual, there are some even bigger questions. Let’s imagine a young Navaho boy. We could teach him Navaho culture and the Navaho language – but that would take class time away from his learning other subjects like geography or history or math. Is it right and proper to reduce his education in economically beneficial subjects to preserve that culture? Why should he bear the cost of preserving the culture by suffering a degradation of the economically valuable part of his education?
I don’t have answers to these questions, but I think that we must ask and discuss them in considering how we preserve the copia of information about human culture.
Indigenous people invented the so-called ‘American Dream’
October 8, 2017
Archaeologist, Leiden University
D. Shane Miller
Prehistoric Archeologist, Mississippi State University
Lewis Borck received funding from the National Science Foundation and the Archaeology Southwest Preservation Fellowship Endowment.
D. Shane Miller is an assistant professor at Mississippi State University.
Mississippi State University provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.
When President Barack Obama created Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the 2012 program that offered undocumented young people brought to the U.S. as children a path into society, for a moment the ideals of the American Dream seemed, at least for this group, real.
We call these kids, many of whom are now adults, “Dreamers,” because they are chasing the American Dream – a national aspiration for upward economic mobility built on physical mobility. Fulfilling your dreams often means following them wherever they may lead – even into another country.
The Trump administration’s decision to cancel DACA – which is currently on hold while it is litigated in the courts – and build a U.S.-Mexico border wall has endangered those dreams by subjecting 800,000 young people to deportation.
But the notion underlying both Trump’s DACA repeal and the wall – which is that “illegal” immigrants, most of them from Mexico, are stealing U.S. jobs and hurting society – reflects a profound misunderstanding of American history.
On Indigenous Peoples Day, it’s worth underscoring something that many archaeologists know: Many of the values that inspire the American Dream – liberty, equality and the pursuit of happiness – date back to well before the creation of the U.S.-Mexico border and before freedom-seeking Pilgrim immigrants arrived at Plymouth Rock in 1620.
They originate with native North Americans.
A Native American dream
The modern rendition of the American Dream can be traced back to 1774, when Virginia’s governor, John Murray, the fourth earl of Dunmore, wrote that even if Americans “attained Paradise, they would move on if they heard of a better place farther west.”
The actual term “American Dream” was popularized in 1931 by the businessman and historian James Truslow Adams. For him, its realization depended on not just being able to better oneself but also, through movement and human interaction, seeing your neighbors bettered as well.
The first peoples to come to the Americas also came in search of a better life.
That happened 14,000 years ago in the last Ice Age when nomadic pioneers, ancestors to modern Native Americans and First Nations, arrived from the Asian continent and roamed freely throughout what now comprises Canada, the United States and Mexico. Chasing mammoth, ancient bison and the elephant-like Gomphothere, they moved constantly to secure the health of their communities.
A more recent example of the power of migration reappears about 5,000 years ago, when a large group of people from what is today central Mexico spread into the American Southwest and farther north, settling as far up as western North America. With them they brought corn, which now drives a significant part of the American economy, and a way of speaking that birthed over 30 of the 169 contemporary indigenous languages still spoken in the United States today.
This globalist world view was alive and well 700 years ago as well when people from what is now northern Arizona fled a decades-long drought and rising authoritarianism under religious leaders.
Many migrated hundreds of miles south to southern Arizona, joining the Hohokam – ancestors to modern O’odham nations – who had long thrived in the harsh Sonoran desert by irrigating vast fields of agave, corn, squash, beans and cotton.
When the northern migrants arrived to this hot stretch of land around the then-nonexistent U.S.-Mexico frontier, Hohokam religious and political life was controlled by a handful of elites. Social mechanisms restricting the accumulation of power by individuals had slowly broken down.
For decades after their arrival, migrants and locals interacted. From that exchange, a Hohokam cultural revolution grew. Together, the two communities created a commoners’ religious social movement that archaeologists call Salado, which featured a feasting practice that invited all village members to participate.
As ever more communities adopted this equitable tradition, political power – which at the time was embedded in religious power – became more equally spread through society.
Elites lost their control and, eventually, abandoned their temples.
America’s egalitarian mound-builders
The Hohokam tale unearths another vaunted American ideal that originates in indigenous history: equality.
Long before it was codified in the Declaration of Independence,, equality was enacted through the building of large mounds.
Massive earthen structures like these are often acts of highly hierarchical societies – think of the pyramids of the ancient Egyptians, constructed by masses of laborers as the final resting place of powerful pharaohs, or those of the rigid, empire-building Aztecs.
But great power isn’t always top-down. Poverty Point, in the lower Mississippi River Valley of what’s now Louisiana, is a good example. This massive site, which consists of five mounds, six concentric semi-elliptical ridges and a central plaza, was built some 4,000 years ago by hunter-fisher-gatherers with little entrenched hierarchy.
Originally, archaeologists believed that such societies without the inequality and authoritarianism that defined the ancient Egyptian, Roman, and Aztec empires could not have constructed something so significant – and, if so, only over decades or centuries.
But excavations in the last 20 years have revealed that large sections of Poverty Point were actually constructed in only a few months. These Native Americans organized in groups to undertake massive projects as a communal cooperative, leaving a built legacy of equality across America’s landscape.
The consensus-building Haudenosaunee
The Haudenosaunee, or Iroquois, offer a more modern example of such consensus-based decision-making practices.
These peoples – who’ve lived on both sides of the St. Lawrence river in modern-day Ontario and the U.S. Great Lakes states for hundreds, if not thousands, of years – built their society on collective labor arrangements.
They ostracized people who exhibited “selfish” behavior, and women and men often worked together in large groups. Everyone lived together in communal longhouses. Power was also shifted constantly to prevent hierarchy from forming, and decisions were made by coalitions of kin groups and communities.
Many of these participatory political practices continue to this day.
The Haudenosaunee sided with the British during the 1776 American Revolution and were largely driven off their land after the war. Like many native populations, the Haudenosaunee Dream turned into a nightmare of invasion, plague and genocide as European migrants pursued their American Dream that excluded others.
Native Americans at Standing Rock
The long indigenous history of rejecting authoritarianism continues, including the 2016 battle for environmental justice at Standing Rock, South Dakota.
There, a resistance movement coalesced around a horizontally organized youth group that rejected the planned Dakota Access oil pipeline.
The movement centered on an environmental cause in part because nature is sacred to the Lakota – and to many other indigenous communities – but also because communities of color often bear the brunt of economic and urban development decisions.
Standing Rock was the indigenous fight against repression and for the American Dream, gone 21st century.
Redefining the North American dream
Anthropologists and historians haven’t always recognized the quintessentially Native American ideals present in the American Dream.
In the early 19th century, the prominent social philosopher Lewis Henry Morgan called the Native Americans he studied “savages.” And for centuries, America’s native peoples have seen their cultural heritage attributed to seemingly everyone but their ancestors – even to an invented “lost” white race.
America’s indigenous past was not romantic. There were petty disputes, bloody intergroup conflicts and slavery, namely along the Northwest Coast and American Southeast.
But the ideals of freedom and equality – and the right that Americans can move across this vast continent to seek it out – survive through the millennia. Societies based on those values have prospered here.
So the next time a politician invokes American values to promote a policy of closed borders or selfish individualism, remember who originally espoused the American Dream – and first sought to live it, too.