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Showing posts from 2013

Indiana: Thoughts on Indigenous Revitalization

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I've just recorded my first ever podcast, and uploaded it to SoundCloud. It's entitled "Indiana: Thoughts on Indigenous Revitalization," or "Indiana" for short.

Please take the time to listen to it, or read the transcript below:

Hello, my name is Peter Stanton, and this is my very first podcast, entitled "Indiana." Be sure to check out the transcript of this podcast and my other writing on peterstanton.blogspot.com.

Think for a moment about humble Indiana—Indiana, the land of corn and basketball. What does the name Indiana mean, anyway? Unsurprisingly, it means "land of the Indians"—a name thought up by white people, of course. But would you guess what percentage of people living in Indiana today are Native Americans? It's 0.4 percent. What kind of sick joke is that? That's about 25,000 people in a state of 6.5 million.

A Non-Epic Mistake — A Negative Review of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

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I watched The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug last night, one day after the film's U.S. release date of December 13th. I feel compelled to write a negative review of the film not because I didn't enjoy watching it; I did, just as most action-movie watchers in the world would. I feel compelled to write a negative review because the actions of director Peter Jackson and company merit critique.

I've come to believe these filmmakers' idea of drastically expanding the story of The Hobbit and adapting it to a trilogy of films was a mistake—ambitious and well-intentioned, but a mistake nonetheless. Above all else, I feel compelled to write a negative review because this Hobbit trilogy of films is not, and cannot be, epic.

Rentier States (Alaskan Exceptionalism)

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Some rentier states are controlled by dictators who waste their land's wealth on corrupt spending.

Some rentier states are controlled by oppressive governments who attempt to buy their citizens' loyalty with public benefits.

Some rentier states, though, are controlled by politicians who impose austerity on the populace in order to funnel money to corporations.

Alaska is truly an exceptional place.

Eddard Stark, Game of Thrones, Counterfactuals, and Historical Narrative

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It's incredibly difficult to find intelligent conversation on YouTube. Sure, you can find a limitless number of videos with elevated discourse—but YouTube's comment community is something else. Profanity, hate speech, trolling, pettiness, and mind-blowing ignorance are all run-of-the-mill fare in pretty much any sample of YouTube comments.

Several weeks ago, though, I found a video with some relatively intelligent comments—a video with a scene from the TV series Game of Thrones. (If you go to the video now and the most recent comments aren't so intelligent, you'll have to take my word for it.)

The scene in the video was the one in which Renly Baratheon asks Eddard Stark to help him seize the throne. Naturally, the honorable and legalistic Eddard refuses. The commenters all had opinions on whether Lord Stark had done the right thing—and how many lives might have been saved had he acted otherwise. All the commenters seemed to state their views with passion, and stated t…

"A Historian's Manifesto" Draft 1

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This summer I read through a collection of historians' essays on historical counterfactuals entitled The Collected What If?

I was particularly struck by how very little the "little" people of history appeared in the pages—the colonized, the lower classes, the disempowered. To be sure, counterfactuals are very easy to write if one seizes upon a "great man" of history and imagines that he died early, didn't attend a pivotal event, or merely made a different decision. Many—if not most—of the essays in the collection followed this pattern, and those that didn't focused on "great events" to much the same effect.

This observation prompted me to make a statement on thoughts I've had many times before—a manifesto, as it were:

Ciudad de México: Metro y Zócalo

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Back on Saturday, October 27th, I left on a trip to Oaxaca, Mexico for a history conference. I was terribly harebrained in the lead-up to leaving Ketchikan—and after I left. To wit, I forgot my passport when packing and my savior girlfriend had to bring it to the airplane. Then, after staying with cousins in Seattle, I forgot my phone with them.

The next day, however, I had quite the success in comparison to the previous screw-ups. I made a plan for what I'd see in la Ciudad de México (Mexico City) and I accomplished it entirely.

Pressure to Celebrate

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Last week was the perfect week to visit Oaxaca: Everything was green after the rainy season, and I got to end of the week by watching Día de Muertos celebrations.

One realization I had, however, was that Oaxaca gets a lot of visitors for Día de Muertos—foreigners and other Mexicans. When I was out and about on the night of October 31, (a day before la Día really begins), there were multiple parades, musical performances, and a ton of tourists—again, both foreigners and other Mexicans. I realized that in order to keep those valuable visitors coming, Oaxaca has to keep doing Día de Muertos in a big way. It's an annual pressure to celebrate.

Quirky and Scary Photos from Oaxaca, Mexico

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Today was my third day spent in the city of Oaxaca de Juárez, Mexico. In preparation for Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead)—and Halloween—I thought I would share just a few quirky and/or scary photos that I took today.

(This first one is definitely just quirky—an inventive sign for a sandwich shop?)

Westeros = Prince of Wales Island, Alaska

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Back in August, my family and I went west to Prince of Wales Island (POW) to go camping at a cabin on Sdéiyi Héeni—known in English as Staney Creek. I was reading George R. R. Martin's book A Game of Thrones at the time, and at one point I had a thought:

POW looks quite a bit like Westeros—the main setting of Martin's series.

I then decided to compare the two in a map, as I did in the past with Alsace and Southeast Alaska. Here is the result:

The Five Most Popular of Five Hundred Posts

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I felt I needed to write something special to celebrate the five hundredth blog post on Peter's Publisher. I assume it's going to be a long time until I write the next five hundred posts—several years, I'm sure—and that's assuming that I continue writing on this blog. In lieu of finding a topic special enough, though, I've decided to celebrate the blog itself by pointing to my five most popular posts from my five years and five months of blogging here.

These are my most popular blogposts of all time, by page views:

5. "Alaska's Revenge" (27 November 2011)—1266 views

This post is one of my favorites—a simple cartographic satire of how Alaska is often treated in maps of the United States. It benefitted most in terms of views from being featured on the blog Strange Maps. At least, the image of my creation was featured on Strange Maps, and I left a comment directing readers to my blog for further explanation.

The Alaska Forest/Ocean Divide

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Many Alaska communities, particularly in the southeast, are dominated by a contrast between two very different environments—the forest and the ocean.


My fiancée and I both grew up in Ketchikan, located near the southeasternmost edge of Alaska. We both love our hometown, but we have very different preferences for where we spend time in nature: I love the forest, and she loves the ocean. It's almost like a compatibility test based on the "classical elements," where I would be "earth" and she would be "water." Does that mean we're a good match?

The dramatic contrast between forest and ocean informs not only how Alaska couples spend their spare time, but also how communities have survived, died, or thrived—such as through logging, fishing, and tourism. To be sure, Alaska is the most immense and geographically diverse state in America—perhaps the most geographically diverse sub-national political unit on earth. There must be many other great contrasts …

The Irony and Historical Roots of White American Libertarianism

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Of all the questions you can ask about libertarians in the United States, here's one I donʼt hear said aloud (or see written) often: "Why does it seem like almost all American libertarians are white?"

In response to this, one answer might be that white Americans are more likely to be ignorant of their privileges and ignorant of the injustices experienced by others, leading them to believe government actions to alleviate such injustices are unnecessary. This makes some sense, to be sure, but it doesn't account for the fact that there are many white Americans (and others) who have experienced serious hardship and nevertheless hold to libertarian views. I'm going to offer a short (and inevitably simple) explanation of this conundrum by looking at history. Along the way I'll note that the seemingly overwhelming whiteness of American libertarianism is really a huge irony.

The Racial Dot Map and Ketchikan, Alaska

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I recently happened upon an impressive project called the "Racial Dot Map." As stated in this article, this is not the first map that has attempted to display every U.S. citizen, and it certainly isnʼt the first map to try to tackle the present realities of racial segregation in a compelling and eye-catching manner. The Racial Dot Map does, however, do an amazing job in both these respects, and I was particularly interested to use the resource to look at my own community of Ketchikan, Alaska.

Tlingit Place Names and Words of the Day 1

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As I continue my small efforts to promote Lingít, (the Tlingit language), I've begun to occasionally post Tlingit place names or other "words of the day" to Twitter and Facebook. This is my first compilation of the posts I've done so far, and hopefully there will be many more to come.

Reactions to the Jurassic Park Movies

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Sometimes, you come to the party late. Sometimes, you come to the party so late that no one even remembers the party. The latter is the case for this subject, but I've decided to blog about it anyway.

It's been two decades since the film Jurassic Park came out, and twelve years since the release of Jurassic Park III. I, however, never saw any of the Jurassic Park movies until this summer, when I watched all three of them over the course of a few days.

Here are some of my thoughts and reactions:

Prezis at UAS and "Confronting the Waashdan Ḵwáan"

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I discovered Prezi two and a half years ago, and I've very much enjoyed using it ever since, although I haven't been able to do so all that frequently. As of now I have created a total of ten prezis, but now for the first time I will share one on this blog.

Prezi is essentially an online presentation built on a boundless and interactive field, rather than the traditional PowerPoint slide. In fact, Prezi has so many advantages over PowerPoint in terms of its adaptability, ease of use, and "wow" factor that I can't understand why anyone would use PowerPoint ever again.

Featured on Alaska Commons!

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My recent post "Why Black Bears and Brown Bears Aren't 'Bears'" has now been featured on Alaska Commons, a website with all sorts of articles and features from Alaska writers. Although it has no comments after two days, I was flattered to share my writing and I hope a few more people enjoy it now.


This follows just three weeks after I was a featured blogger on the Alaska Blog Network, which Alaska Commons is also a part of. I'm quite happy to be finally connecting Peter's Publisher with other parts of the blogosphere, especially the Alaska blogosphere.

Danger in Yakutat, 1880

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This year I've written a few different in-depth posts on the blog about moments from Tlingit history—a natural outgrowth, I suppose, from all the fun research I did while writing my senior thesis. I wrote about a Spanish expedition that came to Prince of Wales Island in 1779, (likely bringing smallpox), and I wrote about a battle in Prince William Sound in 1792 fought between Tlingit, Russians, and the Russians' Chugach Sugpiaq allies (the first recorded battle between Tlingit and Russians).

More recently, I highlighted some of my favorite facts from the book Land of the Ocean Mists by Francis Caldwell. Now I'd like to share a full story from Land of the Ocean Mists, paraphrased in my own words and with additional information provided. The story concerns a dangerous year spent in the place the Tlingit named Laax̱aayík, a place we now call Yakutat...

Why Black Bears and Brown Bears Aren't "Bears"

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UAS recently put up signs for each of its student apartments (which, by the way, are very nice to stay in). The signs give a nature-related name to each building that begins with its already-established letter designator: I, for example, live in building A, which now has a sign saying "Aurora." The signs look great, and I love that a translation is provided for each word in Lingít (Tlingit), such that "Aurora" has "gisʼóoḵ" beneath it (a new word I'll remember now).

I have found one problem, however, and it's the sign in front of building B:

Highlights from Land of the Ocean Mists by Francis Caldwell

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I recently finished the book Land of the Ocean Mists: The Wild Ocean Coast West of Glacier Bay, written by longtime Alaska fisherman Francis Caldwell. Caldwell covers all the information and stories most people would ever want to know about the coast between the Alsek River and Cape Spencer in Southeast Alaska, known as the Fairweather Country. Here's a roughly chronological list of some of the most interesting things I learned, all paraphrased or summarized from the book:

First, no person lives in the Fairweather Country today. In the past, however, there were Tlingit villages at Dry Bay, Lituya Bay, Cape Fairweather, on a stream coming out of Grand Plateau Glacier, and at a site on Palma Bay now covered by La Perouse Glacier.

Featured on the Alaska Blog Network!

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I am now a featured blogger on the Alaska Blog Network! It's a growing community of great bloggers in Alaska, and I'm proud to be a part of it.

I wrote a short guest post for the site that introduces me, the Publisher, and my new blog, Teaching in Lingít Aaní. In my post, I began by explaining how my family came to Alaska, and then moved on to how I started blogging—unsurprising topics for a historian who loves finding the reasons for things.

I joined the Alaska Blog Network a few months ago when its founder (who blogs here and here) told me about her project. I was really excited to join, since I'd always lamented the small number of Alaskan bloggers I knew and the lack of networking between us. I especially like the two organized lists of blogs on the ABN—one by subject and one by location. I'd love to see some more teaching blogs and blogs from Southeast Alaska there soon.

If you happen to be another blogger from Alaska reading this post and haven't joined the A…

A New Blog: Teaching in Lingít Aaní

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Last Friday the other master's students and I had a one-day technology workshop with our UAS education technology professor. We won't be taking his course until September, but I appreciated that the workshop gave us a jumpstart on what we'll do in the coming months. Most importantly, the professor had all of us create a website that will serve as an online portfolio for class assignments.

Most of my fellow students created an e-portfolio using Google Sites, but my own experience with that service has led me to feel that it's highly limited, and somewhat frustrating to work with. I far preferred its predecessor, Google Pages, which I used to create projects like this one. (It doesn't look as good as it did originally, since it was switched over.) Instead of using Sites, I opted for another Google-owned service that I'm much more familiar with: Blogger.

Reel Injun, Atanarjuat, and Breaking the Indian/Native American Paradigm

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Recently I watched the film Reel Injun, a documentary about Hollywood's hundred-year history of portraying indigenous North Americans. Perhaps not surprisingly, Reel Injun is a Canadian film—not one supported by Hollywood. Near the end of the film, it also points to the Canadian (Inuit) production Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner as showing the way forward in indigenous filmmaking. My curiosity sparked, I watched Atanarjuat myself, (it's free to watch here), and I really was impressed.

Released in 2001, Atanarjuat was the first feature-length fiction film written, produced, directed, and acted by Inuit, and it was acted entirely in their language, Inuktitut. Simply put, it's a beautiful, superbly-acted film depicting a story of jealousy and revenge that dates from long before Europeans invaded Inuit lands. Not every indigenous film should depict only the past, of course, but I wholeheartedly agree that Atanarjuat is a strong example for future works, both in its use of indigen…

Ten Photos From Ten Hours in Petersburg, Alaska

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I left Ketchikan with my girlfriend last Saturday to go up to Juneau and start summer classes there for my next big project—earning a Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of Alaska Southeast. My classes are going great now, but it took me about twenty-four hours to get to Juneau from Ketchikan, rather than the five originally expected. My girlfriend and I flew Alaska Airlines standby on a route that hopped from Ketchikan to Wrangell to Petersburg to Juneau. On the tarmac in Petersburg, I was asked to step off the plane, and eventually was taken into Petersburg's small airport. Before my girlfriend knew I wouldn't be getting back on, they closed the doors and took off for Juneau.

What follows is an explanation for my delay accompanied by nine photos, (one above makes ten), taken during the ten hours I spent in the pretty and peaceful town of Petersburg.

Saxman or Totem Bight: Which One to Visit?

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Ketchikan, Alaska is without a doubt the best place in the world to see totem poles, and if you only had one place to see these monumental carvings, Ketchikan should be it. However, Ketchikan's totem poles are scattered over a few major locations, and two of those locations—Saxman Totem Park and Totem Bight State Historical Park—are found at a significant distance from the city center, and in opposite directions from each other.

Ideally, I think visitors to Ketchikan should see both Saxman and Totem Bight, along with the Totem Heritage Center and the other totem poles around the city. But, if you only have a limited time in my hometown, as most visitors do, which should it be—Saxman or Totem Bight?

Red: A Haida Manga and the Possibilities of Graphic Novels

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The morning after I returned to Kichx̱áan, Lingít Aaní, I just had to go see my hometownʼs brand new library. The new public library was still being constructed when I left last August, and it had its grand opening in January. Once inside, I was struck by the lovely wood interior, beautiful (and functional) furniture, and plentiful space for children, teens, and adults to hang out, read, and enjoy some gorgeous views. On the way out, I was struck by a graphic novel I saw displayed on top of a shelf—a Haida manga. I'd heard of the genre before and felt curious, so I checked out my first book from Ketchikan's new library—Red: A Haida Manga, by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas.

Daenerys Targaryen as White Savior: Historical Prejudices in Game of Thrones

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I love the mini-series Game of Thrones, based on the book series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin. I've watched every episode of the show with my girlfriend, and we've been engrossed in the story as it progresses.

However, after this last episode (the finale of season three), there is just one major criticism I have to make: I am getting sick and tired of the "white liberator" or "white savior" storyline that is escalating, carried on by Daenerys Targaryen. Yes, I know this is just a work of fiction, and an entertainment production, but hear me out:

Mapping Indigenous Autonyms Coast to Coast

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On Monday the 27th, (Memorial Day), I returned home from Georgetown for the last time—a new graduate ready to began something new, back in the town where I grew up. In past years, I always thought I was coming back to Ketchikan, Alaska. This time, though, after a year spent exploring the history of the Tlingit and their homeland, I felt much more that I was returning to Kichx̱áan, Lingít Aaní.

Kichx̱áan is the Tlingit name for the site that the city of Ketchikan was built on. Clearly, the Tlingit name was adapted by the Euroamerican settlers, but it was also changed—anglicized—and turned into something different. Using indigenous place names, rather than ones created or changed by colonizers, restores to a place some of historical meaning. Even more essential, perhaps, is the acceptance and use of indigenous autonyms—Native peoples' names for themselves. A new map of the contiguous United States provides an impressive, near-comprehensive display of such autonyms and is very much …

Short Reflections on Graduation from Georgetown University

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Today I graduated from Georgetown University. It was an experience that featured nervousness, boredom, excitement, numbness, and contentment—a wide range of emotions I largely felt at a loss to describe. Even so, I intend to write down just a few reflections on my college experience now, before I go to sleep for the first time as an official university graduate.

The First Battle Between Russians and Tlingit: Prince William Sound, 1792

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A few months ago I wrote about interactions between Tlingit and Spanish at Bucareli Bay near Prince of Wales Island, Alaska in 1779. Now I would like to share another story from 18th-century Tlingit history—the first battle between Russians and Tlingit. Both of these stories were drawn from research done for my just-finished thesis, and this story in particular is based on the awesome work edited by Nora Dauenhauer, Richard Dauenhauer, and Lydia Black, Anóoshi Lingít Aaní Ká, Russians in Tlingit America: The Battles of Sitka, 1802 and 1804 (Seattle; Juneau: University of Washington Press; Sealaska Heritage Institute, 2008), p. 55-57, 63.

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A few years before the Russian-American Company came into being, in 1792, the Russians and Tlingit had their first verifiable violent encounter near Hinchinbrook Island in Prince William Sound, west of the Tlingit Gulf coast.

Finally, a Finished Thesis

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It's been over a month since I posted to this blog, and without a doubt the blame lies squarely with my senior honors thesis, which I finished just six days ago. Back on April 1st I said I was done with it, but now I'm telling the truth. Lingít ḵa Waashdan Ḵwáan, the Tlingit and the Americans: Interactions and Transformations, 1856-1896 is officially done as a Georgetown University senior honors thesis in history.

Talking About "the West": What's "Western"?

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A few weekends ago I attended a conference in West Virginia with several other Georgetown students to present a paper of mine I had written last semester. The conference was very fun and my paper ended up winning third place out of the undergraduates, which was awesome. However, the panel session I presented in was entitled "Relations Between the West and 'the Rest.'" I don't know why, but they placed "the rest" in quotes, but not "the West." "The West" has always seemed to me like a problematic term to use when talking about the modern world, and although it's really commonly used, it did bother me a little at the time. (By the way, you'll have to forgive my use of "scare quotes." You'll see a lot in the post.)

A few days later, I watched a YouTube video where the commentator made a statement about Mexico: He said that in recent decades Mexican families had been adopting a more "Western" diet, and al…

Finished With My Thesis!

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Hey everyone! I've now finished writing my thesis early after seven months work! It's still over a month until the final deadline, but I feel completely done with everything I set out to do. Check it out—here's the screenshot from my title page, with an epigraph and everything:


I would have included the whole thing, but the document is way too large to include in a blogpost—150 pages! My writing covers a complete, holistic chronology of Tlingit history all the way from 1775 to 1896, and has in depth analysis of the years from 1856-1896 addressing every point of argument I could think of. I'm really proud of what I've written, and at this point all I have left to do is print out the document and turn it in...

Atg̱adaax̱eit Yinaadei Dísee Fools! 
(It's for "Month Before Everything Hatches" Fools' Day, or, you know, April.)

In reality, I have a long way to go before I finish my thesis. It's really about 80 pages of text, I probably have 15-20 sig…

Kayhi Needs a Tlingit Class

Dear Editor of the Ketchikan Daily News,

I would like to make a serious, concrete suggestion for Ketchikan High School: Get a Tlingit class.

There are a number of obstacles to providing a class in the Tlingit language at Kayhi, but the first and most important is to find a will among the superintendent, school board, and community members. I believe this idea has the capacity to bring our community together, and once we have the will to provide a Tlingit class, everything else will be easy.

The benefits of having just a single Tlingit class far outweigh the difficulties or costs. Having a Tlingit class at Ketchikan High School signifies that the whole community has taken a positive step toward recognizing and valuing its Tlingit heritage, and it provides students of all backgrounds with the opportunity to learn more about their home than they ever could have before.

When Will Kayhi Have Tlingit Class?

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I've written quite a few times on this blog about Native American languages, and Lingít (Tlingit) in particular. Back in August I made the case that the Tlingit language deserves more respect and attention in Southeast Alaska, including a presence in public school classrooms. Now I'd like to follow that broad idea with a serious, concrete suggestion for Ketchikan High School: Get a Tlingit class.

Yogurt Drinks – My Favorite

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I think I have always loved yogurt: I remember eating yogurt with sprinkles as a kid, and I even wrote an article on Ketchikan Underground about yogurt when I was in high school. I still love yogurt, and I have to say I love pretty much every kind there is: cheap, expensive, plain, crazy-flavored, over-sugared, unsugared, foreign and domestic. Yogurt drinks, on the other hand, are something I've discovered only within the last few years. Let me tell you, though—yogurt drinks are amazing.

Frontier Airlines' Squeaky Squeegee Sounds

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I had never flown with Frontier Airlines—in fact I'd hardly even heard of them—until just a few months ago, when I flew from DC to Phoenix (through Denver) to spend Christmas with my girlfriend and her family in central Arizona. (Apparently, however, Frontier will no longer offer service to Phoenix in little over a month.) Just yesterday I flew Frontier again, going from DC to Denver and then from Denver to Fargo in order to spend my spring break with my girlfriend in Fargo-Moorhead. Overall I've really appreciated Frontier—their good service, (relatively) cheap prices, and the cute animal mascots they have. There's just been one weird experience, however, that I've had on all six of my Frontier flights: It's a very weird sound the airplane makes before takeoff and after landing, and I had never heard it anywhere else before.

Why Not Sakartvelo?

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Well, here's a question for you: Why don't we call other countries by the names they call themselves? For example, the names of Germany seem particularly silly, with different languages using radically different words to refer to the same place. If we all just called it Deutschland it'd be quite a bit easier to understand each other. I mean, Deutschland isn't that difficult to pronounce, and I'm sure the Germans (excuse me, the Deutsch) would appreciate the gesture of respect toward the name they use for themselves.

If you don't agree with me on that point, however, consider this: Why don't we at least call other countries by the names they call themselves when doing so would make things easier for us?

In this case I am referring specifically to the country we call Georgia, located in the Caucasus Mountains along the divide between Europe and Asia. In the United States, however, (and probably in English generally), the name Georgia typically refers to the

The Arteaga Expedition to Alaska of 1779

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You may or may not have noticed an absence of posting here for nearly the last two weeks. This is due to the fact that Iʼve been hammering away at my senior thesis in history, and just last Sunday morning I turned in my second batch of writing to be read and critiqued by my peers. That being the case, I now have a little bit of time to turn to writing on the blog, but given that I can't think of anything else to write about, I'm going to post a story here from the content of my thesis. The following is some of the history from the Spanish expedition of Ignacio Arteaga, which came to Bucareli Bay on the west coast of Prince of Wales Island in May of 1779.

Please note that I've adjusted this from what's written in my thesis. I hope you enjoy the story.

Two Research Ideas from Northwest Coast-North Pacific History

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As I've been doing more and more research for my thesis on late 19th century Tlingit history, (prospectus here), I've come across a great many unanswered questions—unanswered, at least, according to all the information I've seen or heard of. (It's rather difficult, I think, for a scholar to prove the idea hasn't been explored before, just as it's difficult to prove any negative.) Here are two questions I've come across that lie outside the scope of my thesis that nevertheless seem extremely interesting and worthy of further research.

Image at right: A Raven's Brew logo by Ray Troll, both famous in my hometown of Ketchikan.

If you're a student or a curious citizen of any kind who has knowledge on these topics or a strong will to go out and learn about them, I think it would be amazing for you to do research on these issues. If you do, and if you find success, be sure to tell me about it! Here are the questions:

My MLK Day/Inauguration Day

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Monday was both Martin Luther King Jr. Day (my favorite federal holiday) and the day of official celebrations for President Obama's second inauguration. I slept late.

The night before, however, I played "MLK Santa Claus" by putting up quotes from Dr. King all around the Georgetown campus. I think I chose relatively provocative quotes in most cases, rather than the oft-repeated ones that have grown to become so sanitized. In some cases I even made the quote appropriate for the place I put it: On one entrance to the new science building, I put the quote "Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men." And in the ICC (where all the would-be policy wonks have classes) I put up "A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death."

How Historically Accurate is Tarantino's Django Unchained? Seven Points.

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A few weeks ago, on my first Thursday night back in D.C., I watched the new movie Django Unchained at the theater with some friends. I had never watched a Quentin Tarantino film before, but I knew the director was known for his films' violence, and that certainly held true in Django Unchained. I don't know what the exact body count was for the film, but there were probably between 50 and 80 people killed. Even with all that violence, however, I think I understood what Tarantino was aiming to do, and I really enjoyed the movie.

That having been said, as a historian I have to ask myself—how accurate was Django Unchained? In this post I will address seven points in the film I thought were plausible, unlikely, or just plain untrue. In fact, using the word "accurate" is a bit of a misrepresentation, since none of the main plot points are factually true. Instead, this is really about evaluating how believable this movie is to your average American viewer, who should be at…

A Future Beyond No Mascots: A Vision for Indigenous-American Relations

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Many people look at criticisms of Native American mascots—like my recentposts about the Washington Redskins—and say, "This isn't a big deal!" or "Natives have much more important things to worry about." While I still believe that mascots perpetuate harmful racist stereotypes, (and thus are a "big deal"), I absolutely agree that there are more important issues that Native Americans have to address—and more important issues for all Americans to deal with concerning their perceptions and treatment of Natives.

When I think about the future of the relationship between indigenous communities and the general American public, I don't just think about a future without racist stereotypes plastered on sports merchandise: I believe there is far, far more that has to be done in order to improve upon the damning legacy left by the exploitation and persecution of Natives in the United States.

Image at right: Wahunsenacawh, or "Chief Powhatan," leader o…

Facing My Last Semester at Georgetown

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Well, you might notice in my sidebar that I haven't written many blogposts this month—the first month of this blog's sixth (!) calendar year. (It makes me feel a little old to say I've been blogging for six years, and perhaps it makes me seem a little behind the technological times, but I hate Tumblr and I wouldn't be very good at vlogging, so this is what you get, for now.) The reason I haven't written much largely has to do with two types of busyness: my busyness during my last week of vacation in Arizona, and my very different busyness here in D.C. because of Georgetown schoolwork. That second busyness largely centers on my thesis, which I posted about most recently here. In that previous post, I displayed my semester's work on drawing up a prospectus—an introduction and plan for the thesis. This semester, I actually have to write the thesis—and it's going to be a challenge.

Considering the challenge ahead, I really feel bad for my compatriot thesis-wri…

Will the Redskins Change Their Racist Name Soon? They'd Better.

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A news story came out in the last few days that can be summarized like this: The Washington Redskins football team has been doing relatively better recently, so some have proposed moving the team's permanent location to somewhere inside the District of Columbia, rather than outside it in Maryland. DC's mayor Vince Gray then stated that as a prerequisite to the Redskins moving into DC proper, there would have to be a discussion about the team's racist name. Cue media cycle.

I really appreciate Mayor Gray saying what he did. As I've written before—here and here—"Redskins" truly is a racist name. The team and its moniker were created by George Preston Marshall, a racist who kept his team from accepting black players until he was forced to in 1962—the very last pro football team to integrate. (See this article for more on that story.) So, why has the name "Redskins" stuck around for all this time, and is there a chance it could finally be changed? Let&…

Photo Reflections on a Vacation in Arizona

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I just ended my Christmas vacation—the last one of my Georgetown career—and for the first time, I did not go home to Ketchikan. Instead I went and stayed with my girlfriend and her family in Prescott, Arizona, and I had a wonderful experience. (In past blogging, I've written negatively about Arizona here and here, but positively here.)

I spent a lot of good time with my girlfriend's parents and much of her extended family, and we also went on roadtrips to Sedona (northwest of Prescott) and to Phoenix (to the south). Instead of getting all prosy about my three weeks of relaxation, though, I will now attempt to choose just eight photos to represent my time in Arizona. I have over 500 photos from the vacation, so the ones I chose here are ultimately, of course, just a partial reflection.

I hope you enjoy the pictures!