Miamisburg Mound, Ohio, USA, Adena Culture.
The sign next to the mound reads:
Miamisburg mound, the largest conical earthwork in Ohio, originally was 68 feet in height with a diameter of 300 feet. One excavating attempt in 1869 reduced the height to its present 65 feet. The mound was then partially investigated by means of a vertical shaft which extended from the top to the base and connected with two horizontal tunnels.
The exploration revealed one burial 8 feet from the top containing a bark-covered skeleton and a vault 28 feet lower that was surrounded by logs without a burial. Along the sides of the vertical shaft were found various layers of ashes and stones, implying that the mound was built in several stages. The entire construction, however, has never been systematically excavated.
The conical shape, the types of burials, and the absence of associated earthworks indicate that the Miamisburg Mound was the work of Adena Indians, a prehistoric group that lived in the Ohio Valley between 1,000 BCE and 400 AD. These peoples were the first in this area to domesticate plants for food, to settle in fairly permanent villages, and to make pottery. An important part of their life was the proper burial of the dead in graves that were covered with earth mounds, such as this one.
Photos courtesy & taken by Ted.
Faces of Black History: Nina McKinney was the first successful black actress in cinema. She was born in Lancaster, South Carolina. During the 1930s, McKinney won a coveted five-year contract with MGM and starred in two films. In Europe, where McKinney toured extensively, she was known as the “Black Garbo.”
Navajo Rug Auction, Totah Festival, Farmington, New Mexico
Navajo weaving is the mother of all Native American trade in the southwest. Every year, from metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona, to tiny and remote Crownpoint, New Mexico, Navajo artisans take part in the tradition of rug auctions.
After the failed Pueblo Rebellion against the Spanish in 1680, many Pueblo Indians in what is now New Mexico fled Spain’s brutal retaliation by going to live among the Navajo. The Pueblo Indians brought with them weaving technology and sheep, specifically the Churro, a small sheep with long clean wool perfect for weaving that the Spanish had introduced.
The 1800’s brought the arrival of Anglo settlers, trading posts and the railroad to the western frontier and soon enough the rest of the world discovered the beauty and complexity of Navajo weaving.
Today the Navajo Nation can be divided into 13 weaving regions, each with a distinctive style. Two Grey Hills rugs reflect the muted colors of the desert. These rugs are often made with hand carded wool and dyed using local plants. Pictorial rugs portray day to day life. Tree of Life rugs are thought to be derived from sand paintings, and show birds perched on corn or trees. The most widely known style is the Ganado with its red background and terraced diamonds and zigzags.
Rugs at these auctions can go from as low as 25 dollars for a small piece to tens of thousands of dollars for larger, more intricate designs. Many people on the Navajo Reservation derive some portion of their income from the sale of arts and crafts, and these events are a direct way to expose an often geographically isolated seller with buyers from around the world.
For the American Guide
Free Black Communities and the Underground Railroad: The Geography of Resistance — Cheryl Janifer LaRoche
This enlightening study employs the tools of archaeology to uncover a new historical perspective on the Underground Railroad. Unlike previous histories of the Underground Railroad, which have focused on frightened fugitive slaves and their benevolent abolitionist accomplices, Cheryl LaRoche focuses instead on free African American communities, the crucial help they provided to individuals fleeing slavery, and the terrain where those flights to freedom occurred.
This study foregrounds several small, rural hamlets on the treacherous southern edge of the free North in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. LaRoche demonstrates how landscape features such as waterways, iron forges, and caves played a key role in the conduct and effectiveness of the Underground Railroad. Rich in oral histories, maps, memoirs, and archaeological investigations, this examination of the “geography of resistance” tells the new powerful and inspiring story of African Americans ensuring their own liberation in the midst of oppression.
Funny story: The other day I was on a plane home and sat beside someone I had an amazing conversation with. I brought up this blog, she brought up her friend’s upcoming book, and having actually seen the pre-order information on amazon, I thought many people would actually be quite interested in pre-ordering this book. It sounds amazing.
Still from the short documentary The Tragedy of Urban Renewal: The destruction and survival of a New York City neighborhood
In 1949, President Harry Truman signed the Housing Act, which gave federal, state, and local governments unprecedented power to shape residential life. One of the Housing Act’s main initiatives - “urban renewal” - destroyed about 2,000 communities in the 1950s and ’60s and forced more than 300,000 families from their homes. Overall, about half of urban renewal’s victims were black, a reality that led to James Baldwin’s famous quip that “urban renewal means Negro removal.”
New York City’s Manhattantown (1951) was one of the first projects authorized under urban renewal and it set the model not only for hundreds of urban renewal projects but for the next 60 years of eminent domain abuse at places such as Poletown, New London, and Atlantic Yards. The Manhattantown project destroyed six blocks on New York City’s Upper West Side, including an African-American community that dated to the turn of the century. The city sold the land for a token sum to a group of well-connected Democratic pols to build a middle-class housing development. Then came the often repeated bulldoze-and-abandon phenomenon: With little financial skin in the game, the developers let the demolished land sit vacant for years. [Continue reading and watch documentary.]
It was 1992. Bill Clinton had just been elected to the White House, despite election-time allegations of an affair with Gennifer Flowers. Clarence Thomas had just been confirmed as a Supreme Court justice, despite Anita Hill’s accusations of sexual harassment.
And despite naysayers, four women had just been elected United States senators.
One of them, Senator Patty Murray, a Democrat, recently reflected on those early years in an Atlantic interview with MSNBC’s Karen Finney. Self-labeled as “the only preschool teacher in the United States Senate,” Murray claims she never wanted to get into national politics, but was moved to run by what she saw as blatant sexism in the Anita Hill hearings. After defeating a Republican opponent who fatefully dismissed her as “a mom in tennis shoes,” Murray joined Barbara Mikulski and Nancy Kassebaum, as well as the newly elected Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, and Carol Moseley Braun in the Senate.
The press called it “the year of the woman,” prompting some well-deserved eye-rolling. “Calling 1992 the ‘year of the woman’ makes it sound like the ‘year of the caribou’ or ‘year of the asparagus,’” quipped Mikulski. “We’re not a fad, a fancy, or a year.”
Read more. [Image: Wikimedia Commons]
A year before her first story was published, Eudora Welty was working as a junior publicity agent for the Works Progress Administration, documenting the effects of the Great Depression on rural Mississippi. She traveled from town to town taking snapshots that she would later develop in a darkroom set up in her kitchen.
"Making pictures of people in all sorts of situations, I learned that every feeling waits upon its gesture, and I had to be prepared to recognize this moment when I saw it," she wrote of those experiences. "These were things a story writer needed to know."
Some of her photographs have just gone on display at the Wiljax Gallery in Cleveland, Mississippi. Presented in conjunction with the Eudora Welty Foundation, “Eudora Welty: 27 Portraits” is a small exhibition that reveals Welty as a gifted photographer and offers viewers a unique glimpse into the Depression-era South.
We at the OA are huge fans of Welty’s camerawork. One of her photos graced the cover of our second issue, back in 1992. Her portraiture, like her writing, is subtle, beautiful, and without pretention. Even if she hadn’t become a major voice in Southern literature, her pictures merit viewing in their own right.
The exhibit runs until October 25. For more information, check out the gallery website.
cliosomnia asked: Hi, hello! I'm sorry to bother you. I'm a big fan of your blog! This semester I'm a member of the Civil Rights Library of St. Augustine project, which is an effort to create a digital archive of the St. Augustine part of the movement. My particular group is attempting to do some research on the St. Augustine Four. Particularly, we are attempting to locate the names and (if possible) the biographical info of the other 12 students who were arrested with the Four. I know this is a long shot (cont.)
(cont.) but I was wondering if it would be at all possible for you to ask your followers if they might know anything about these other 12 students who were arrested? Whether it’s just a name or a description or photograph, anything would be helpful. Or perhaps if they know someone connected with the movement in St. Augustine who might in turn have a clue to who these 12 students were… I would really appreciate it! I understand if you would rather not, though. Thank you for your time. :)
At our opening reception for our fall exhibitions earlier this month, we were pleased to welcome to the galleries the family of the late Reverend Albert Wagner. One of the Cleveland area’s most recognized artists, Wagner created spiritual art as a way of self-healing. Wagner’s family was greeted by Assistant Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art Denise Birkhofer and Associate Professor of Art and African-American Studies Johnny Coleman. In the photo above, we see, from left to right, Bonita Wagner, Johnny Coleman, Bonnie Venable, and Regina Maple.
One of Wagner’s paintings is currently on view in the exhibition “Modern and Contemporary Realisms.” In that work, we see his use of bold colors and geometric forms that evoke the aesthetic and folk art traditions of African ritual objects. Referencing the artist’s cultural ancestry, Ethiopia depicts stylized, mask-like figures of royalty and piety. The crowned queen at the center of the composition weeps for the uncrowned figure at the right edge of the picture plane, for he has not yet realized God’s omnipotence. Deeply invested in Christianity as a means of redemption from past transgressions, Wagner believed in a miraculous interconnection between art-making and devotion. The Reverend acknowledged his self-taught approach with pride: “When you look at my work,” he said in an interview, “a five-year-old boy sketched it out and an old man messed around with it. We have an understanding. That’s the best of Albert.”
Rev. Albert Wagner (American, 1924–2006)
Ethiopia, late 20th century
Acrylic, ink, oil stick, and graphite on canvas
Ruth Roush Contemporary Art Fund, 2012.20
Gila River Indian Community of the Gila River Indian Reservation, Arizona
The Gila River Indian Community is an Indian reservation in the U.S. state of Arizona, lying adjacent to the south side of the city of Phoenix, within the Phoenix Metropolitan Area in Pinal and Maricopa counties. It was established in 1859, and formally established by Congress in 1939. The community is home for members of both the Akimel O’odham (Pima) and the Pee-Posh (Maricopa) tribes.