Sunday, May 07, 2006

Amerindian Highways and other Sunday Reading

I stumbled upon this post, "The Landscapes of Lewis and Clark, part I", at SOS Forests. Mike looks at why the intrepid explorers could not find the myriad of Indian roads that already existed as they made their way across the continent.
... Besides innumerable trails, there were roads and highways. When millions of people walk the same path over thousands of years, the path becomes a foot-road. Generations of walkers removed all the sharp stones, tripping roots, and head-whacking branches from thousands of foot-roads crisscrossing the West. Indeed, most of the foot-roadside vegetation had been altered by traveler’s fires ...

Lewis and Clark spent much of the summer of 1805 looking for Indian horse-roads heading west. They knew that finding the right road meant success or failure for the expedition. Sacagawea'’s people, the Shoshones, saved the Corps by giving them horses and guides. In late September, when the Lewis and Clark deviated from the road the Shoshones pointed out to them, they got hung up in the brush and nearly starved to death ...
This post leads me back to what John Brinckerhoff Jackson (about whom I wrote here) wrote about reading the landscape. Roads are records of land use: not just transportation, but how to negotiate cultivated spaces and natural features. Lewis and Clark may have wanted to disregard local land use. What they wanted to find was the Roman road, the pathway that showed how all parts of the empire were linked together. I think how they mapped the landscape they crossed supports this desire. I am anxious for the next post in this series ... I'm sure I'll have more to say.

Click here to read more.

Karen Gulliver has the Asian History Carnival at Miscellany. Not included, unfortunately, is Alan Baumler's post, "Japan's War Guilt," which looks at the reception of Japanese war propaganda in an exhibit at MIT. Alan asks, rhetorically, whether Nazi propaganda would raise similar objections. Perhaps the question should not be rhetorical. Perhaps it points to different ways that the two histories are consumed.

On the other hand, Nazi portrayal of deaths could be frighteningly ordinary, as the Boston Globe notes.


Let my pimp my refrain on immigration history.

A certain someone is back blogging, writing about the Korean custom of the first birthday. Towards an Archeology of Iconoclasm looks at the names of pagan gods that Christians removed from inscriptions. The debate about France's memory laws continues, as the socialists in the parliament have proposed that denying the Armenian Genocide should be punished as Holocaust denial. It's success might hinge on how soon Sarkozy becomes prime minister. And in the category of America should not do what France and Germany do, several German states are targeting Turkish immigrants with a language test to see how assimilated they are.

The rapture is not an exit strategy?

Bush no speak Spanish? What does he speak?

The young often make poor, under-nuanced political statements, but it is no wonder that many children participated in the pro-immigration rallies.

Germany has 200,000 Jews now, one of the largest Jewish populations in the world. But even as it approaches the same levels as before Kristallnacht, the nature of Judaism in German has changed significantly. The Rheinischer Merkur looks at the orthodoxy of German Judaism since unification and the collapse of the Soviet Union.

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