Friday, September 24, 2021

THS: Home of the Brave?!

The "Braves," an American Indian warrior, became the symbol of the Talawanda Schools in the 50s after a contest was held to name the newly consolidated district formed by Sommerville, Hanover, Milford, and Oxford.  Hannover 5th grader Karen Irwin won with the name 'Tallawanda' because Tallawanda Creek (aka 4 Mile Creek) flowed through the three newly merged townships.  After some discussion the second 'l' was dropped and the new High School on Chestnut Street opened in 1956 where it remained for then next half century.

But who was Talawanda?  What did the name mean?


In 2018 the Talawanda school board voted 3-2 to change the high school’s mascot from “Braves” to “Brave” after a meeting lasting more than three hours.

A heated crowd filled the Performing Arts Center at Talawanda High School to listen to the recommendations made to the board by the superintendent-appointed branding committee.

The change responds to complaints that the name and logo currently used by Talawanda are offensive. Many feel that the logo is more of a “caricature,” depiction of what a Native American would look like, and others feel that they are simply honoring Native Americans with the “Braves” name.

Should we be proud to have the 'Brave' as our Mascot or change it to something else?

Is Talawanda alone in their use of Indian Mascots?

Do Indian Mascots honor insult Native American Groups?

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Buffalo Soldiers

The Buffalo Soldiers were a segregated regiment of black cavalry fighters during the American campaign to rid the West of "Indians" so that "civilized" white people could gain the lands used by Native Americans. They were given their name by the Native Americans who called them Buffalo Soldiers because their short & curly hair was like the hair on the back of a buffalo's neck. They were compared with the buffalo's strength and tenacity. Duties were settling railroad disputes, building telegraph lines, repairing and building forts, helping settlers find a place to live and protecting the settlers from Indian attacks.

1) Who were the Buffalo Soldiers?

2) What was is the great IRONY of the Buffalo Soldier?

3) Who were America's forgotten cowboys?

4) Why would they want to be a cowboy?  Would you?

5) Why haven't we ever heard their stories?

6) What are their names and stories?

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Battlefield Detectives

George Armstrong Custer, the young Civil War hero turned Indian fighter, was trapped on a desolate ridge overlooking the Little Bighorn River in the territory of Montana. Swarms of well-armed Indians surrounded him. According to legend–and many historians–Custer rallied his vastly outnumbered troops. The desperate 7th Cavalry soldiers shot their horses to make barricades and fought ferociously as hundreds of Indians, led by famed Sioux war chief Crazy Horse, overran the ridge.

But because Custer's men were wiped out before reinforcements arrived, a definitive account of the Little Bighorn battle has eluded historians. The only eye witnesses were the Indians, who had conflicting recollections. And so the legend of "Custer's last stand" began to take shape. "The image of Custer blazing away till the very end with his pistols was an icon of the American West," says John Dorner, chief historian at the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument.

The lack of reliable accounts has kept the details of the battle a hotly debated topic, and discoveries in recent years have challenged the heart of the legend. "The myth is the gallant, heroic last stand–that the Indians drove him to the killing field, where he fought to the last man and last bullet against overwhelming odds," says Richard Fox, a professor of anthropology at the University of South Dakota.

Fox, who specializes in archaeology, completed an extensive battlefield survey after a 1983 wildfire and revealed evidence that cut to the core of the Custer legend. "My research says the outcome was a function of panic and fear, a very common thing in battle. There was no last stand in the gallant, heroic sense."

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Hollywood Indians

"A Nation that does not know its history has no future."
What does this saying mean? How has Hollywood stereotyped the Indians in the movies? Why?

How is what happened in history very different than the Hollywood stereotype of the Indians as warriors?

Monday, September 20, 2021


What in the World:  The title and key of this map have been removed.  What does it show?  

Dances with Wolves is a 1990 epic western film directed, produced by, and starring Kevin Costner. It tells the story of a Union Army lieutenant who travels to the American frontier to find a military post, and his dealings with a group of Lakota Indians. In this dramatic scene we see Costner as he joins the Lakota on a Buffalo hunt.

Clearly the Plains Indians were expert horsemen and hunters. But were they always?

What was the United States government policy regarding Indians? The Buffalo?

How effective was it?

Unfortunately the number of wild buffalo herds in the United States has decreased significantly over the past two centuries. However it is still possible to view wild buffalos. The Yellowstone National Park maintains the largest number of wild buffalo in the United States and many other National Parks provide habitats for buffalos. It is estimated that there was once 60 million buffalo in North America. According to the National Bison Association there are only 350,000 buffalos in North America today.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Little House On the Prarie

Little House on the Prairie, a series of eight mostly autobiographical books about Laura Ingalls Wilder's life as a white settler on the American prairie, has been a perennial favorite ever since it was first published in 1935.  My second grade teacher started reading it to us.  In the 1970s the TV series with Melissa Gilbert and Michael Landon came onto the scene. I watched it as a child, and watched it again with my own children.

Pa, Ma Wilder and the children, Laura and Mary of the prairie. We went with them through all their obstacles, the sickness of Mary, the birth of children, moving to their own farm, the store owner and his family, the teacher at the school, all of the issues and problems that the family, the children and Ma and Pa had together. This was a time in our history when the West was young, the earth was new, the farming good. New lives, new adventures, to share, and this series gives us hope. So much love and kindness in this family, and that won the day, every time.

Why is this story still so appealing more than 100 years later?

The Ingalls family were people of their time and place. In the words of Laura June Topolsky writing for The Awl, that meant they were “Manifest Destiny personified.” Even Pa, the adult character who is most sympathetic to the Osage Indians on whose land the Ingalls family are squatting, sees white people as having a right to the land, writes Laura Ingalls scholar Amy Fatzinger. She quotes Laura’s Pa from the text:

Portrayals of Native American characters in this book and throughout this series have led to some calls for the series to not be taught in schools.  Do you agree?  Why or why not?

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

OK Land Rush

At precisely twelve noon on September 16, 1893 a cannon's boom unleashed the largest land rush America ever saw. Carried by all kinds of transportation - horses, wagons, trains, bicycles or on foot - an estimated 100,000 raced to claim plots of free land in an area of northern Oklahoma Territory known as the Cherokee Strip. There had been a number of previous land rushes in the Territory - but this was the big one.

'As the expectant home-seekers waited with restless patience, the clear, sweet notes of a cavalry bugle rose and hung a moment upon the startled air. It was noon. The last barrier of savagery in the United States was broken down. Moved by the same impulse, each driver lashed his horses furiously; each rider dug his spurs into his willing steed, and each man on foot caught his breath hard and darted forward. A cloud of dust rose where the home-seekers had stood in line, and when it had drifted away before the gentle breeze, the horses and wagons and men were tearing across the open country like fiends. The horsemen had the best of it from the start. It was a fine race for a few minutes, but soon the riders began to spread out like a fan, and by the time they had reached the horizon they were scattered about as far as eye could see. Even the fleetest of the horsemen found upon reaching their chosen localities that men in wagons and men on foot were there before them. As it was clearly impossible for a man on foot to outrun a horseman, the inference is plain that Oklahoma had been entered hours before the appointed time.'    -Harper's Weekly 33 (May 18, 1889): 391-94.

How did the Homestead Act encourage settlement of the new Western frontier?

Who were the real Sooners and why should the Oklahoma football team change their name?

What was appealing about Oklahoma?  Would you want to live there?  Why?

In 1890 the national census concluded there was no longer a square mile of the US that wasn't settled.  According to Historian Frederick Jackson Turner's  'Frontier Thesis' the closing of the American Frontier means the gradual decline of our Democracy.  Do you think the United States needs to continue to expand?  If not why? If so where?