Archive for September, 2009

Ox carting and Native American rebellion

September 28, 2009 1 comment

In North Dakota History today, we finished our discussion on the ox cart trails and trade. We then turned our attention to nation building (or destroying, depending on your interpretation), which included the increasing presence of white settlers in Minnesota, specifically the Minnesota River Valley. This increasing presence led to the removal of Native Americans from the region. This removal precipitated the uprising in the 1860s of the Lakota (Sioux) against the United States, which forced the government to send troops to the region to quell the fighting. This allowed for a brief mention of Fort Abercrombie in extreme southeastern North Dakota. While pursuing the Santee Dakota, Gens. Sibley, Sully, and Pope failed to link up and Gen. Sully, along with Major House, who was under his (Sully’s) command discovered a Yankton and Yanktonai village. An over-zealous House, seeking glory and a chance to go and fight in the Civil War, attacked the village and massacred several hundred persons in what became known as the Battle of Whitestone Hill. This was the last major “battle” of the Indian Wars east of the Missouri River, and seemed to represent the beginning of a breakdown of relations with the Lakota, who had played by the rules, only to be treated horribly because of a mistaken identity.


Considering Ken Bain and Settlement in North Dakota

September 25, 2009 Leave a comment

On Tuesday, we discussed Ken Bain’s What the Best College Teachers Do. What we concluded was that while the suggestions were good and likely reflective of good teaching, Bain’s examples were not based in the reality of most college teachers, as he cited professors from more elite schools. Most college instructors work at public, often open-enrollment, universities, where students run the gambit from the motivated, to those simply there to extend high school. The latter are more than likely the hardest to reach and most of the ideas in Bain will not make a difference to their learning. We discussed a little about online education as well. We will be considering the book Teaching with Your Mouth Shut and a research project dealing with History survey classes by a former Doctor of Arts student in our program.

In addition to my class, we had fun in History of North Dakota this week. We discussed the suffering of the Mandan from smallpox and the creation of European communities in the Red River Valley, including Fort Geary (Winnipeg) and Fort Daer (Pembina). Overall, it has been a good week. This next week will be busy with a couple of observations of classes and continuing my work in Coyote Culture.

Dr. Michael Fronda’s lecture online

September 21, 2009 Leave a comment

Dr. Caraher has made Dr. Michael Fronda’s lecture from Thursday available for download. Click here to download the lecture. Be sure to let him know what you thought on his blog The Archeaology of the Mediterranean World.

The fur trade’s influence on North Dakota

September 21, 2009 Leave a comment

Today, we learned a bit more about the fur trade in North Dakota. Specifically, we explored how the trading in the 1830s, including the effect of the steamboat, changed the landscape of North Dakota, both physically and culturally. Students were asked the question of how the arrival of Europeans and European-Americans changed the area that became North Dakota. Several items were brought up, including technology and disease. We discussed how the pattern used to trap beavers caused a massive disruption to their population. Smallpox and the subject of virgin soil epidemics came up again, as we saw how the spreading of the disease by traders to the Native Americans began to sew the seeds of resentment among the Mandan towards whites for bringing the disease to them.

An evening with Dr. Michael Fronda

September 18, 2009 Leave a comment

Thursday afternoon and evening, several of the faculty and fellow graduate students and I enjoyed a lecture and social time with Dr. Michael Fronda of McGill University in Montreal. Dr. Fronda, who is a friend of Dr. Bill Caraher, was in Grand Forks to deliver the first Cyprus Research Fund lecture, entitled, “Anarchy, Rivalry, and the Beginnings of the Roman Empire.” The lecture was good and well-attended, with the East Asia Room being quite full. We then had a reception in the next room. Then, several of us headed to the Blue Moose, a local restaurant and bar for some food, drink, and good conversation. I will say that these type of events are what I enjoy about the profession, as it is good to discuss things related to what I do with others who share my interest. Dr. Fronda will be speaking in the department at noon on Friday, as part of the Brown Bag Lunch Series. Bill made a podcast of the lecture and, when it is available, I will post it here.

Lewis and Clark-Part II

September 18, 2009 Leave a comment

Wednesday, we continued examining the Lews and Clark Expeditin and its importance to North Dakota. Dr. Porter argued that had the expedition spent the winter at the headwaters of the Missouri River, instead of at the Mandan village, that they would have perished. There is much to support this claim, as it was at the village that the expedition encountered Charboneau and Sakakawea, who bore a son during the winter, which was to be a sign of peace to tribes upriver. We watched a twenty-minute segment of the Ken Burns’ documentary on the journey, which provided some of the evidence to the claim. The class then took a “quiz” consisting of writing on Dr. Porter’s argument.

Lewis and Clark-Part I

September 16, 2009 1 comment

Today, we finished our examination of American expansion and land organization. Students learned about the Northwest Ordinance (1787), which created a step-by-step process towards self-governance and statehood for western areas. This transitioned into a quick look at Napoleon’s plan to invade the United States via the Louisiana territory, which was thwarted by his defeat in Haiti by both Toussant L’ouveture and local mosquitoes. These events ultimately allowed the United States to purchase Louisiana, which doubled the size of America. We ended the class by discussing the origins of the Lewis and Clark expedition, but did not get to the actual journey. This section of North Dakota History is particularly interesting for me, as I worked for a summer at the Lewis and Clark State Historic Site near Hartford, IL, which is the first site on the trail.