My last article about Circe at Return to Mago discusses a real life character of the Circe archetype: the Sardinian ruler Eleonora d’Arborea.
This is a continuation of the review from last week.
Last week’s post discussed Indigenous peoples in the Adirondacks before European settlement: Iroquois, Abenaki, and Mahican nations pre-contact and later Algonquian peoples displaced by English settlement along the Atlantic coast. According to Melissa Otis, much of the 1700s was characterized by indigenous accommodation of Euro-colonial hunters and trappers and a few settlers. Shared land use was negotiated through family alliances, often cemented by intermarriage. The period after the Revolutionary War brought a sharp increase in violence and upheaval as colonial expansion continued.
The violence itself was not altogether new. Before European contact, Iroquois and Algonquian peoples sometimes came into violent conflict over shared resources and disputed territories. What changed was the inability of indigenous groups to collectively resolve disputes. Euro-Americans had the upper hand. Even accounting for the primitive legal establishment, acts of aggression against indigenous people were under-prosecuted. Otis was not able to name a single trial for murder or violent aggression where the White perpetrator was convicted. Many Euro-American settlers, trappers, and businessmen continued negotiating with indigenous peoples on friendly terms; others simply took what they wanted, backing up their claims with violence. Still others, nursing hostility through prejudice or historical grievances, simply lashed out in unprovoked aggression. Copious amount of alcohol consumed by both White and indigenous men did not help the situation.
As competition with White trappers increased, mining and lumbering became established, and settlement expanded, indigenous groups found it more difficult to support traditional ways of life. Access to hunting and fishing territories became limited and animal populations declined. Euro-Americans appropriated Abenaki and Mohawk seasonal camps, claiming these peoples, with territories on both sides of the border, were in fact “Canadian Indians.” Dependence on the emerging wage economy further fractured indigenous communities and attenuated traditional practices.
There are two stories told about colonialism in America. In one story, the one usually told about the Adirondacks, the land was empty and unused, available for settlement. In another, acknowledged in more populated areas of the country, the people already living on the land were either massacred or uprooted in forced relocations. The indigenous people in the Adirondacks were not massacred, even though sporadic deaths by violence went unatoned. Nor were they physically relocated en masse, even though many moved away as traditional livelihoods evaporated. Neither story fits, although indigenous peoples did lose land, traditions, and social cohesion.
The next installment will discuss how indigenous people in the Adirondacks adapted to changing circumstances in the second half of the nineteenth century.
I am finding this book by Melissa Otis challenging on three levels.
On the first, it is challenging my idea of Native American presence in the Adirondacks. Otis doesn’t refute the popular belief that most of the territory in the Blue Line (the boundary of the Adirondack Park) was hunting territory used by many tribes, but she asks the reader to reflect on what the word “hunting territory” means. I always pictured some guys killing big animals and bringing a few home to justify going off for a summer vacation with the boys.
But no. The concept of “hunting territory” needs to be picked apart. What were they hunting? Animals, of course, but also plants and fish. When were they hunting? It could be any season. Trapping in winter. Foraging in summer. Who was hunting? Young men, yes, but some women, or even the whole band together. If a lot of meat or fish was being harvested, women did most of the processing on site. The small groups could be Abenaki, Iroquois, or Mahican before colonization, but later they might be other displaced Native groups. Were they only hunting? No, there was trapping and fishing. And Mohawk women would sometimes plant and harvest during a long hunting season. Or Abenaki women would sow plants and return later that year (or even in subsequent years) to gather.
I’m also finding the book challenging because it is dense and difficult. A lot of names, dates, wars, treaties referenced. It’s slow reading, and sometimes I have to look up events that I’m not familiar with. This is a meticulously researched book, which is its strength and weakness. I wish this kind of information was available in a more readable form, but the book was only published in 2018. And of course people demand good documentation after so much questionable stuff has been around for so long.
The third challenging level has to do with absorbing the troubling details of the history of displacement through colonization. This displacement was not as dramatic as the forced mass relocations of Cherokee or Delaware, but it was traumatic nonetheless. The Abenaki and the Mahican faired the worst, being more itinerant than the Mohawk, who were settled and agriculturally advanced.
So I’m getting through the book slowly, but I recommend it to anyone interested in the early history of this region.
This picture was taken in Newcomb, New York last week. The High Peaks can be seen in the distance.
Happy Solstice everyone! I’ve been hiking a lot and using a lot of bug repellent. Yes, Black Flies are back, those tiny swarms that get in your eyes and mouth. They leave bites that itch and swell. They’re an important food for toads, fish, snakes, frogs, bats, and birds. So far, I haven’t had to use my head net. I just walk fast and avoid the lowland. I also think I’ve become less susceptible over the years.
Mercury went direct this week. Yay! I have that ineffable feeling good news is coming. Every garter snake along my path has seemed like a confirmation.
This picture was taken Sunday on Snow Mountain. Usually a crowded peak, but on this day I had it to myself.
One of the best things about hiking in this place of abundant bugs is the birdsong. The Winter Wren was very vocal on this Midsummer hike.
Another favorite of mine is the Wood Thrush.
The rest of the conference can be found here. (Click on “Uploads” to see all of the talks.)
This is a picture of the Crown Point Lighthouse I took a few weeks ago. Located on the western shore of Lake Champlain, the tower was erected in 1858. It was one of about a dozen on the shores and islands on the lake helping ships navigate what was once an important commercial route. In 1912 the lighthouse was redesigned as a monument to Samuel de Champlain, an early European explorer of the lake that now bears his name. The lake has traditional names, of course, an Abenaki one being Bitabagw, “the lake between.”
The mystery I’m working on takes place on an island in this lake (entirely fictional, though some of the lake’s real islands are inhabited). Of course I’m going to work a lighthouse into the story. It’s been done many times before, but lighthouses are so romantic and spooky that I can’t resist.
I will be presenting at MoonCon on Sunday, June 6th at 10 a.m. Eastern Time (3:00 p.m. UK Time). My 45 minute session, about deer magic, is entitled “Staring Back at the Deer.”
The Conference is all day Saturday and Sunday. Here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/MoonBooks/
See you there!
MoonCon is a FREE! virtual conference featuring your favorite MoonBooks authors. Your chance to listen and ask questions in real time. No pre-registration required. Just tune in via the MoonBooks Facebook page.
I will be giving a talk Sunday June 6th at 10:00 am Eastern Time (3:00 UK) on deer magic.
The talks will be taped and available sometime later, so if that’s too early for you, no worries.
Lesbian feminist folksinger Alix Dobkin died this past Wednesday May 19th. Alix was an instrumental leader of the second wave feminist movement. A talented songwriter with a strong clear voice, Alix began her career in Greenwich Village with other influential legends of the sixties but left that road to concentrate on inspiring the new generation of lesbian feminists. Her solo album Lavender Jane Loves Women broke new ground in politics and music.
I have seen Alix in concert probably more than any other musician. Not because I made a point of following her around like a wimmin’s music Deadhead, but because she made herself available to the women’s community, playing in places like Columbus, Ohio, where I grew up. She was actually responsible for my living on wimmin’s land, in a way. I was traveling alone and wound up in Tucson with little money left and no friends in the area. I saw that Alix was appearing that night at a local church and figured I’d meet some like-minded women there. That’s how I ended up at a women’s intentional community in the Sonora Desert.
Alix contributed significantly to feminist politics and music. I attended a slideshow she gave at a local women’s coffeehouse in the early 80s analyzing sexism in music. I still think about that slideshow; it ruined popular music for me forever.
Going to a concert with Alix was in some ways like being in a cocoon. She was so personable that I felt like I knew her, but come to think of it I probably never spoke to her. I saw her in concert in almost every place I’ve lived, and some places I was only visiting. I always met some great women at an Alix concert. We had a loving tight-knit yet accessible women’s community once, and Alix was one of the women who made it happen.