the prairie dog log

from the westernmost part of my mind

Henry Yu suggests a fabulous way to “escape nationalism as our rationale” in American Studies

    What if we were to export this particularly Los Angelean sense of imagined spatial belonging to the rest of the world? Rather than talk about how rooted the citizens of Los Angeles are to the physical space of the city, we could instead talk about how other metropolitan sites in the United States, North America, and perhaps around the world are actually more like Los Angeles in this aspect. Los Angeles, in other words, might not be the exception but the rule if we understand the history of the last two centuries as dominated by migration. First of all, we need to think about how we narrate migration. The actual movement of human bodies from one point to another has no inherent meaning, but is given meaning through the classifications of those movements. […] My purpose is not to erase all distinctions between different forms of movement and migration, but to highlight how we categorize such differences. We should give more thought to the origins of our categories, and whether we should reclassify movements to achieve other political purposes. One of the most important benefits for American studies in placing migration to and from the Americas at the center of our scholarship, it seems to me, is to escape nationalism as our rationale.[…]

    If we saw the world through the eyes of my great-grandmother, how different would it look? Lee Choi Yee was in her eighties when she left China in 1965. She had already been entwined in a network of family labor migration that had connected her home village in Guangdong province with Sydney, Australia, and Honolulu, Hawai’i, and all up and down the west coast of North America for almost a century. […]

    To see the world through my great-grandmother’s eyes is to see a world both intimate and local—a farm, a village, your children and husband’s relatives around you—as well as vast and linked to far-flung places.

-  “Los Angeles and American Studies in a Pacific World of Migrations.” Henry Yu, American Quarterly Vol 56, No 3. Sep 2004.

Albuquerque, New Mexico: Progress in Cooking. Compiled by the Progress Women’s Club of Albuquerque, 1971.

Albuquerque, New Mexico: Progress in Cooking. Compiled by the Progress Women’s Club of Albuquerque, 1971.

Children’s books in the 19th century did not fuck around.
From Esther, a Story of the Oregon Trail.

Children’s books in the 19th century did not fuck around.

From Esther, a Story of the Oregon Trail.

Time to rewatch “Gone With the Wind”, KS.

"[W]e need to analyze the manipulation of the Africanist narrative (that is, the story of a black person, the experience of being bound and/or rejected) as a means of meditation—both safe and risky—on one’s own humanity.” -Toni Morrison, Playing in the Dark.

Garden and Gun: Tell us about the genesis of the book.
Kathryn Stockett: I took some time off in September of 2001. Then 9/11 happened. I didn’t lose anybody in 9/11 and I don’t mean to grab on to a tragedy that wasn’t really mine, but it affected everybody, and for me I just got really, really homesick. The first voice that came to me was Demetrie’s. I started writing in her voice, and it was so comforting and it came kind of easy. It was liberating, which is kind of an ironic word to use in this situation. But I’d never written in an African American voice before. It was nice. It took me back home.

G&G: Did Gone with the Wind influence you at all?
KS: I’ve never read it. I did see the movie, but I use a whole different side of my brain when I watch a movie. It’s a very different experience than reading. I guess it did teach me to avoid stereotypes.

Read the rest of this insane interview here.

another French corruption

"…the names Huron, Mandan, Sioux, Osage, and Ozark have been applied by Darby and other authors, to the extensive regions on the Upper Mississippi, the Upper Missouri, and the Arkansas rivers, I am not able to solve. Osage is a French corruption of Wos-sosh-ee, and Ozark is an awkward, illiterate corruption of Osage. Sioux is another French corruption, the origin of which is not now easily ascertained. Carver and other travellers, call this nation of Indiana Nau-do-wes-sees. Chiefs of this nation have repeatedly disclaimed the name of Sioux, (pronounced Soos.) They sometimes call themselves Da-co-tah.” -A New Guide for Emigrants to the West, John Mason Peck, 1836.

Sand Creek Massacre

On November 29, 1864, Colonel John Chinvington led 700 men to slaughter a camp of peace-seeking Cheyennes near Sand Creek in the Colorado territory. The Cheyennes had camped there under the guidance of Black Kettle, who had brought his tribe to the area to negotiate a peace treaty at Fort Lyon. As instructed by US soldiers, the Cheyennes flew an American flag over their camp to indicate their willingness to cooperate with the military. After they established their camp, Black Kettle sent most of his warriors to hunt for food. Chivington and his men attacked early in the morning, ignored a white flag that was put out shortly after they began firing, and ultimately killed more than 100 indians.

Here’s what wikipedia says about the aftermath of the attack:

Before Chivington and his men left the area, they plundered the tipis and took the horses. After the smoke cleared, Chivington’s men came back and killed many of the wounded. They also scalped many of the dead, regardless of whether they were women, children or infants. Chivington and his men dressed their weapons, hats and gear with scalps and other body parts, including human fetuses and male and female genitalia

The deaths of several important Cheyenne leaders in the Sand Creek Massacre, combined with a significant number of Cheyenne deaths during a late 1840s cholera epidemic, essentially destroyed the Cheyenne clan system.


After the Sand Creek Massacre, a Southern Cheyenne named Mochi became a warrior, fighting the United States military in the west.

After the Sand Creek Massacre, a Southern Cheyenne named Mochi became a warrior, fighting the United States military in the west.