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Showing posts from January, 2013

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!