Back at the PhD (Piled-high Desk)

Rose hips and bufflo berries on the North Dakota prairie
Rose hips and buffalo berries on the North Dakota prairie. Sharptail grouse like them.

It was good to disappear. I geocached along the Niobrara River, hunted ducks in North Dakota — where “to combine” is the verb of autumn, and you accent the first syllable — and ended up finally at the Black Hills Powwow in my old hometown of Rapid City.

I ate way too much greasy food in small-town cafes but have also been reminded how much I like the taste of wild duck. I watched a badger  roam in the great empty heart of South Dakota, which is how I designate all the country south of Lemmon.

More about the powwow later.

I returned to find the “progressive” blogosphere enjoying its annual Ten Minutes of Hate against Christopher Columbus, whom we apparently must now regard not  as a 15th-century European with the mindset of his time but as truly evil.

The Italian immigrants and their descendants who pushed for the holiday were not celebrating evil, notes political blogger Walter Russell Mead.

In American history, the fight to make a holiday on Columbus Day actually had almost nothing to do with the actual arrival of Christopher Columbus in the western hemisphere.  It wasn’t about celebrating the European conquest of the Americas or the extirpation of the native tribes.

The day was made a holiday after years of lobbying as a way of recognizing the contribution of Roman Catholics and immigrants generally to American life.  It is a holiday to celebrate diversity, not to commemorate the imperial outreach of Ferdinand and Isabella, a deeply regrettable couple who were notorious oath breakers, inquisitors and anti-Semites.

Not marching, but dancing.

Meanwhile, at the powwow — and it is no coincidence that it was held October 7th–9th — American flags were much in evidence and military veterans danced first, as happens at most powwows.

Isn’t culture complicated?

One thought on “Back at the PhD (Piled-high Desk)

  1. Pitch313

    Human cultures are complicated, and usually in ways that we do not anticipate.

    Consider that holidays are not what they used to be. Celebrations of community and neighborly solidarity have turned into mass opportunities to shop more and at odder hours. Often on Mondays, so they git better with work week requirements. And with lots of folks at work, so festivity comes to resemble a frantically snatched work break.

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