The Sardonic Historian

Public comments on public history.

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Hawai’i

View from our balcony. (at Hilton Waikiki Beach)

Arts, Crafts, and Manifest Destiny

Arts, Crafts, and Manifest Destiny
Manifest Destiny in 1804?

Manifest Destiny in 1804?

Stumbled across this while on my occasional hunt to find a rare Boulevard Beer Lewis and Clark sign I spotted at restaurant once. It’s nice to see that the spirit of Manifest Destiny is alive and well in the arts and crafts community. “This listing is for an 6.25 x 10.5″ unmatted, unframed print of the Territorial Development of the United States from 1776 to 1866 with the saying Manifest Destiny and people who made that idea possible.” I assume this item is supposed to be celebratory. I’m not so sure the problem is that the creator doesn’t fully grasp the concept of Manifest Destiny. Instead, I’m more disturbed that s/he doesn’t realize how synonymous the term is with Indian extermination policies, the belief in God given superiority, or any of the other nuanced problems the concept poses. On top of that, with pictures of Lewis, Clark, Washington, and Jefferson, s/he completely got the timing of their history wrong. Poor form all around.

I sent the poster a kindly worded email urging them to remove the listing. A bit of one-on-one public history if you will.

Pen & Ink

Not what I would have pictured! #ThomasJefferson #DeclarationofIndependence @APS_Museum

Enjoying a fine day at the Arizona Archives Alliance’s Archivist Symposium with Carlos. (at Arizona Historical Society Museum at Papago Park)

You Just Got Served, American History

America has had two great ages of exploration. The one that every schoolchild learns about began in 1804, when Thomas Jefferson sent Meriwether Lewis and William Clark on their epic journey across North America. The other one is just beginning.”

You Just Got Served, American History

New Lewis and Clark Book Written from Nez Perce Perspective

Histories about the Lewis and Clark expedition written from a Native perspective are very rare. This is the first book to dwell exclusively on one tribe, and I’m glad to see it is the Nez Perce. Considering it was co-authored by a Nez Perce tribal historian and a professional historian connected to the tribe through marriage, I hope that this will be an insightful book adapted from the tribe’s internal oral traditions, and will be recognized as a legitimate history by mainstream historians. Historically, tribal histories of the expedition have been skeptically received. This is due mostly to the pointless discrepancy over Sacajawea’s death, an ill-founded debate started by the unsolicited imposition of a meddling, white historian.

Hopefully Lewis and Clark Among the Nez Perce will start a new trend in Lewis and Clark literature, and encourage more tribes to publish their traditional accounts of the expedition. Of all the gaps in the current literature, this is by far the largest. Next, I’d like to see the Lemhi Shoshone contribute to the conversation, partially because their connection to Sacajawea has been a foundation for their argument for federal recognition for many years. Their story, past and present, is one more people need to be aware of. We put their ancestor on the American gold dollar, yet we will not reinstate their status as a federal tribe, only because this would require the establishment of a reservation. God forbid Americans in the twenty-first century be forced to give up their claim to these people’s traditional homelands! But that’s a whole other topic…

New Lewis and Clark Book Written from Nez Perce Perspective

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