Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Planxty Sweeney by Turlough O'Carolan -- MIDI file

Not one of Carolan's well-known tunes, but a nice, catchy melody in G. I learned it from Shelly Stevens' O'Carolan's Harp Tunes for Mountain Dulcimer. The Folk Music Index carries this single entry:
Planxty Sweeny [OS164] - O'Carolan, Turlough
O'Sullivan, Donal(ed.) / Carolan. The Life, Times and Music of an Iri.., Celtic Music, Bk (1983/1958), p251
Listen to the MIDI file here: http://www.iol.ie/~davy_rogers/Turlough%20O'Carolan%20MIDIs/planxty_sweeney.mid

Monday, March 30, 2009

HUM 221: 2nd paper, assignment sheet, due April 13 (note change of due date)

HUM 221: Native American Cultural Expression
Pete Ellertsen, instructor pellertsen@sci.edu
Spring Semester 2009

Cherokee heritage and values – documented essay

Drawing your evidence from the video Cherokee: The Principal People we watched in class; the Cherokee websites that we have visited in class and/or are linked to the Hogfiddle blog; and the writing of Gogisgi (Carroll Arnett), write a documented essay in which you discuss traditional Cherokee values, the ways the Cherokee people have adapted those values to changed conditions through history, how they maintain those values in the present and what other Americans can learn from them. Length: 1,000-1,250 words (4-5 pages). Document your sources using signal phrases in the text that refer all quotations, both direct and indirect, to a Works Cited list in correct MLA style. You must address the questions below. Due in class Monday, April 6 13.

The Cherokee are known as a very adaptable people, who arguably went further than any other American Indian tribe in adopting the white man’s ways, including a written alphabet, the Christian religion, a constitution and legislative, executive and judicial institutions modeled after the U.S. government, but their history is one of struggle. How well did a “civilized” outlook serve them in their dealings with white Americans during the 1800s, and later as increasing numbers of tourists visited the Great Smoky Mountains National Park during the 1900s?

At the same time, harmony and balance have always been important traditional Cherokee values. How well have the Cherokee people been able to maintain them as their culture has changed through history? Referring to Gogisgi’s poetry and his essay in Here First, how important would you say harmony, balance and traditional values are to him? How well are writers like Michael and J.T. Garrett able to communicate these values to non-Indians?

How well are the Cherokee able to preserve their traditional heritage in 21st-century America? What, in your opinion, can we learn from the Cherokee, their culture and their experience?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

HUM 221: Cherokee heritage tourism

Since I'm assigning a paper Monday that asks about heritage tourism in Cherokee, N.C., I'm linking a couple of websites that talk about it. Heritage tourism, of course, is what we have at the Lincoln sites in Springfield.

The Cherokee Heritage Trails project is a joint effort of the Eastern Band tribal goverment and the Museum of the Cherokee Indian in Cherokee, N.C. It has information on tourist attractions and Cherokee artists, both performing artists and craftspeople. Says the promotional website:

When you visit the town of Cherokee, you will find tribal members working as bankers, business owners, managers, police officers, EMT's, schoolteachers, nurses, homemakers, and clerks, as well as basket makers and storytellers. Day by day they continue to balance modern life with Cherokee traditions. Many individuals dedicate their lives to carrying on Cherokee traditions and passing them to the next generation. The whole community remains close-knit despite the presence of millions of visitors every year from fifty U.S. states and dozens of foreign countries. In fact, the Cherokee community continues to welcome visitors - not just a legacy from century of tourism, but a heritage from the oldest Cherokee values: respecting differences and including outsiders...
(Elipses in the original.)Sites and events on the Cherokee Heritage Trails have been selected by a task force from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, the North Carolina Arts Council, and the Tennessee Overhills Heritage Association. Most have a blurb pointing out how it preserves Cherokee heritage.

Another good tourist website is put up by Eastern Band at http://www.cherokee-nc.com/ ... we've visited it before, briefly, but I thought I'd point it out again since I'm assigning a paper that asks about tourism, among other things. Pull down the menu on "The People" at the left of the page, and read the pages on Cherokee history, language and legends for starters, if you haven't already done so. Then click around and see how they promote the sights in the town of Cherokee. The website, created by an ad agency in nearby Asheville, even has a page for German tourists, who can click on the flag of Germany on the lower left of the page.

Yeah sure, you betcha

Excerpts from an Associated Press story on the >flooding in North Dakota over the weekend ...

Fargo mayor: More levees will be breached

The Associated Press
Sunday, March 29, 2009; 12:04 PM

FARGO, N.D. -- The bloated Red River briefly breached a dike early Sunday, pouring water into a school campus and the mayor called it a "wakeup call" for a city that needs to be vigilant for weaknesses in levees that could give way at any time.

Crews managed to largely contain the flooding to the campus of Oak Grove Lutheran, grades 6-12, preventing more widespread damage in nearby areas.

* * *

The city requested more volunteers to resume sandbagging Sunday. Many were expected to turn out after church services in the heavily Lutheran city of more than 90,000 residents. The mayor began his briefing Sunday morning with a prayer, and Gov. John Hoeven encouraged everyone "to say a prayer for everyone in harm's way."

Triumph Lutheran Brethren Church moved its Sunday services to a hotel to accommodate people from other churches that canceled worship because of the flood.

"It'll be just prayer, some old hymns everybody knows, and being together," said Triumph Lutheran member Tami Crist. "We've sandbagged a lot of people's homes, they're safe for now. We can sit back and know that we've done what we can do. Now God's going to do what he can do."

Saturday, March 28, 2009

HUM 221: Cherokee 'harmony ethic' ... balance, harmony, values

Warning: There's a lot of shlock written about Native American spirituality, but I have tried to sift through the material available on the World Wide Web and link you to legitimate sources below.
  • In a 1998 article titled "Maintaining Balance: The Religious World of the Cherokees" she wrote for the Tar Heel Junior Historians program of the North Carolina State Museum, Karen Raley sums up 250-plus years of Cherokee history, religion and cultural adaptation.
  • Michael Garrett, a counselor and education professor at the University of Florida, has written several popular books on how readers can apply traditional Cherokee values to increasingly fragmented, busy 21st-century lives. He is excerpted on the Web.
You should read these authors for yourself, but I will summarize part of it here. I will also link to sources on a Cherokee "harmony ethic" that aims to maintain balance in relations between people.

"Like other native peoples," Raley says in her Junior Tar Heel Historian article, "the Cherokees did not try to rule over nature but instead tried to keep their proper place within it." The key to doing this was balance, which meant conserving the gifts of nature and doing right to others. "When Cherokees gathered medicinal plants in the forest," for example, "they harvested only every fourth one they found, leaving the other three to grow undisturbed for a future use." Raley adds:

All of these practices contributed to the balance of their world. The Cherokees believed that if the balance of nature was upset, everyone would have trouble. They feared a loss of balance could cause sickness, bad weather, failed crops, poor hunting, and many other problems. Humans were responsible for keeping the balance within themselves and between the animals, the plants, and other people.
To this end, their stories and legends were about harmony and balance. So was their traditional religion.:

Native American peoples did not use a word such as “religion,” but, as you have read, every part of their world had a sacred connection or religious meaning. Their ideas of religion were everything to them. They believed the world should have balance, harmony, cooperation, and respect within the community and between people and the rest of nature.

Cherokee myths and legends taught the lessons and practices necessary to maintain natural balance, harmony, and health. Cherokee songs, dances, stories, artwork, tools, and even buildings expressed the moral values of their culture. The Cherokee homeland and its mountains, caves, and rivers also carried symbolic meanings and purposes.
But in the 1700s and 1800s, many Cherokees converted under a U.S. government “civilization” policy "intended to convert the natives to Christianity and to pacify them." But, Raley says, the old values of harmony and balance found their way into the Cherokee practice of Christianity:

In time, the New Testament of the Christian Bible was translated into Cherokee and written in the Cherokee syllabary. Scriptures, hymns, and services also began to be spoken in the Cherokee language. Still, communities blended older Cherokee values like respect and sharing into the practices of their new Christian churches. Some of the traditional Cherokee healers even became ministers or elders in Christian churches.

Today, about ten thousand Cherokees live in North Carolina. Most of them are Christian, but traditional ideas can still be found in the use of traditional plants for healing, dances that reinforce the Cherokee identity, references to some of the old sacred Cherokee sites, and a festival that is held each year at Green Corn time.
Raley's article is written for high schoolers, but it is by far the best brief introduction available on the Web about Cherokee values, religion and spirituality.

An excerpt from Medicine of the Cherokee (1996) by Michael Garrett and his father J.T. Garrett appears on the InnerSelf.com website. It is accurate in its summary of the harmony ethic, even if it has some overtones of pop psychology. In it, they say people can change their lifestyle by adapting Cherokee ways:

There is something known as the "Harmony Ethic," based on the communal spirit of cooperation and sharing, which guides much of traditional Cherokee living. It is a way of life that gives purpose and direction to much of our interaction in this world. In Cherokee tradition, wellness of the mind, body, spirit, and natural environment is an expression of the proper balance of all things. If we disturb or disrupt the natural balance of ourselves or others, illness may be the result, manifesting in the mind, body, spirit, or natural environment. However, all aspects are affected by such disturbances of the delicate balance as we easily realize when we abuse ourselves or others.

The Harmony Ethic is a way of maintaining the natural harmony and balance that exists within us, and with the world around us. ...
The Garretts say it includes:

  • A nonaggressive and noncompetitive approach to life. ...
  • The use of intermediaries, or a neutral third person,
    as a way of minimizing face-to-face hostility and disharmony in interpersonal relations. ...
  • Reciprocity and the practice of generosity ... even when people cannot afford to be generous. ...
  • A belief in immanent justice ... [that] There is a natural order to things, and, sometimes, there are situations or experiences that are "out of our hands", so to speak. ...
Some other links, if you're really interested:

  • "Cherokee Values and World View," an unpublished but frequently cited paper by Native American anthropologist Robert K. Thomas, who in 1958 defined the harmony ethic like this: "The Cherokee tries to maintain harmonious interpersonal relationships with his fellow Cherokee by avoiding giving offense, on the negative side, and by giving of himself to his fellow Cherokee in regard to his time and his material goods, on the positive side."

  • An anonymous Amazon.com customer's review of Sharlotte Neely's Snowbird Cherokees: People of Persistence (1993), a book that's well worth reading itself: "The most useful thing about this book for someone who knows nothing else about the Cherokee is that it explains how the 'harmony ethic' is still a part of the way Cherokees live, and how it has subtly changed the Cherokee way of practicing Christianity, and how we deal with modern political and economic life. It shows that it is possible to be "traditional", in a sense, while being fully engaged with the modern world. It also shows that Indians are not the cardboard cutouts so often seen in the movies, or in 'New Age' explorations of native spirituality. ... If you read this, back it up with [John] Finger's broader histories of the Eastern band, [James] Mooney's classic exploration of Cherokee mythology, and, if you take them with a grain of salt, the Garretts' 'Cherokee medicine'" series. Then, take a trip to Graham County, preferably around Memorial Day weekend when you can be a part of Snowbird's annual 'Fading Voices' festival at Little Snowbird Church, stopping in Robbinsville to visit the Junaluska Burial Place. You'll be welcomed, but if you can't make it Snowbird, this book is the next best thing."

An excerpt from Michael Rutledge's Forgiveness in the Age of Forgetfulness is available on line at http://cherokeehistory.com/law.html. Rutledge, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, is a law student at Arizona State University. He tells a legend to illustrate how the traditional "strict liability law for any killing" played out when a woman killed a rattlesnake and the snake's kismen demanded vengeance.

Misc. psalmodikon links, northern Illinois and Sweden - and miscellaneous links

YouTube has this:
Psalmodikon Étude no 1
Composed by Vidar Lundbaeck 2007/08. Here played by the psalmodikon group "Psalmodikonisterna" in Hallaryd, Smalandia, Sweden. The étude is played in 3-part, treble, melody and bass.
Link here to hear it. Interesting comments and links to other pieces on YouTube.

Including this ... a group called Nordiska Psalmodikonförbundet playing what sounds like an old chorale in four-part harmony in Limmared, Västra Götaland, in 2008.

Lars-Paul Esbjörn, who founded First Lutheran Church in Galesburg and later the Augustana Synod, and Tuve N. Hasselquist, a Swedish pastor who was recruited by Esbjorn to come to Galesburg and became a pastor, editor and president of Augustana College, both played the psalmodikon, and Hasselquist published a psalmbook in sifferskrift.

Lars-Paul Esbjörn. The Augustana Heritage Association has a website, with books and CDs, including a couple on music and liturgy, available for purchase. LC-MS
. John E. Norton - paper titled “Ecclesia Plantanda: Emigrant Preacher Lars-Paul Esbjörn and The Beginnings of the
Augustana Synod." PDF file in Children of Augustana: Presentations from the AHA Gathering at Bethany College, Lindsborg, Kansas - June 19-22, 2008."

Migranternas Hus in Alfta, Sweden, has a Swedish-language biography of Pastor Lars Paul Esbjorn, With a photo of a psalmodikon on page 4. It appears he used it to promote psalm singing at a church in Sweden before he came to the U.S. in the 1840s. Migranternas Hus is in the part of Sweden many Henry County Swedes came from. Sweden. Blurb on their English-language page:
The House of Migrants is a center for emigration and genealogy research. The center is located in the province of Gävleborg. The work consists of building a database of the county's emigrants and immigrants and collecting local historical resource material. In this way, the history of our area comes alive.

Experience history in Alfta
At the House of Migrants in Alfta, a museum is constructed to showcase the emigration from this area and the religious cult "Ersk-Jansarna." We welcome visitors both in groups and individually and can offer guided tours and information about emigration in general. We also offer lectures about emigration, genealogical research and about how local history can be used in teaching.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Demonstration of "href" tags to link and open a new page

here's the basic link format -- for an example I'll link to the Minneapolis Star Trib

here's the new-page link format -- for an example I'll link to the Minneapolis Star Trib ... it opens a new window

HUM 221: Paper assignment, due Monday, April 6

Today and next week, we'll study the Cherokee Nation ... one of the largest and most adaptable of the Native American peoples.

And you'll write a paper on what we can learn from their experience. It will be 1,000 to 2,500 words long (four to five pages in 12pt Times Roman type), and it will be due the the beginning of class Monday, April 6. I'll hand out a detailed assignment sheet Monday, March 30. But you can start getting ready for the paper by asking yourself these questions:

1. In the video "Cherokee: The Principal People," several people said harmony and balance are importatn traditional Cherokee values. How well have they been able to maintain that? How important are harmony, balance and traditional values to Gogisgi (Caroll Arnett)? Check out his poetry and his autobiographical essay in "Here First."

2. The Cherokee went further than any other American Indian tribe in adapting the white man's ways, including a written constitution and a government modeled after the U.S. government, a written alphabet. Yet their history is one of struggle. How have they adapted?

3. How are the Cherokee today in North Carolina and Oklahoma able to preserve their traditional heritage?

4. What can the rest of us learn from the Cherokee? This may be the most important question of all.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Next week's class schedule: Sophomore test Wednesday; no class Friday

Monday's and Wednesday's classes will be at the usual time and place, but sophomores in HUM 221 will take a required standardized test at 10 a.m. Wednesday, April 1. (Sophomores in COMM 209 will get out of the last test in time to come to class.) But all of my classes Friday, April 3, are canceled since I will be taking part in a panel discussion on Illinois music in Decatur that day.

The following is excerpted from a faculty newsletter called Nuts & Bolts that I write and edit. It explains the need for Wednesday's standardized testing, which is required as a condition of our accreditation plan:

Let's all try to forget we're doing our standardized testing for General Education assessment on April Fool's Day! But let's also remember how important it is to have a good showing -- the more of our Gen Ed sophomores who take the ACT Inc. Collegiate Assessment of Academic Proficiency (CAAP) test, the better the data we'll get. And the better the data, the better the decisions we'll make as we consolidate our curriculums and continue to work for continuous improvement at BenU-Springfield.

I can't say it any better than David Holland, chair of our Gen Ed assessment subcommittee, put it in a memo that went out to all faculty.

"Please remind sophomore students in your classes that they are required to take these CAAP tests," Dave said, "either during the morning or afternoon testing sessions. ... It is imperative that you not only remind sophomores of these tests but also encourage them to attend as these tests are an important part of our assessment package at the college."

Math and writing skills modules of the CAAP test will be administered in classrooms on the second floor of Dawson Hall from 10 a.m. till noon and from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 1. Sophomores need to be excused from classes that meet during these times so they can take the CAAP tests. Evening students who take the tests at 4 should be in class before 7. If you have questions, please feel free to contact Dave at ext. 242 or me at ext. 519 (email pellertsen at sci.edu).

As Dave said, the Gen Ed tests are a vital part of our assessment-and-accountablity piece at Benedictine at Springfield. We chose an ACT Inc. testing product because the firm also designs the Prairie State Achievement Examination (PSAE) taken by 11th-graders in Illinois, and we can purchase "linkage" data comparing our students' scores on the CAAP to their PSAE scores. That gives us a measure of "value added," so we can compare what our students knew before they came to us with what they learned in their first two years of Gen Ed courses. It is a very important piece of the evidence we submit for accreditation and accountability to outside stakeholders.

So it couldn't be more important, and I'm not foolin'.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

HUM 221: Cherokee: The Principal People ... video today and Friday

We'll watch Cherokee: The Principal People (1998), a video hosted by Wes Studi, a full-blooded Oklahoma Cherokee actor, for North Carolina public television and the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation. In class today, I posted the questions below. We'll discuss them Friday, and I'll let you write about them over the weekend. Details on the paper, which will be due next week, in class Friday.

A blurb for teachers in North Carolina says this video "reflects Cherokee identity from earliest origins to the present economic challenges. The Eastern Cherokee's strength in their arts, language, and culture today speak to their tenacious power of survival. Producer Ron Ruehl, the recipient of gold and silver ADDY awards and a Telly Award for excellence in video production, describes this documentary as the most important work of his career." (If you're planning to major in mass communications, and you really ought to consider it, you'll be interested to know the ADDY Awards are given by the American Advertising Federation for "creative excellence" in advertising. So Ruehl's work here is low-budget, but he's good.)

Here are the questions I put on the screen in class today:

Pay attention during the video. You will be given the opportunity to express yourselves in writing after we've seen it. A couple of questions to watch/ listen for:
1. What familiar song did Cherokee Indians sing on the Trail of Tears?

2. How has the Cherokee culture changed over the years? What specific things did they learn from white American culture?

3. What steps are the Cherokee taking to preserve their heritage and pass it on to the next generation?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Links to "Nine Tunes for Archbishop Parker's Psalter" by Thomas Tallis, and a really neat webpage with sheet music in the public domain

Posted here so I don't have to keep doing Google searches for the links while I'm learning the Third Tune or Third Mode Melody, which you may recognize as the theme for Ralph Vaughn William's Fantasia on a Theme by Tallis ...

Video clips of the Renaissance Singers, a professional early music troupe, singing Tallis' "Nine Psalm Tunes for Archbishop Parker's Psalter" at Holy Rosary Church in Seattle, Wash., May 9, 2008, are available on YouTube and the Renaissance Singers' own website.

If you want to follow the score -- and you should try it, because all of these psalms are gorgeous -- an easy-to-read modern version with the melody in the soprano line is available for free on the FreeScores.com website. The third tune is the basis for Ralph Vaughan Williams' Fantasia on a Theme by Tallis and the eighth is the original of the Tallis Canon (most familiar as "All praise my God to Thee this night" with Bishop Ken's doxology) in most denominational hymnals. Matthew Parker (1504-1575) was archbishop of Canterbury under Queen Elizabeth I, and his psalm settings are thoroughly Protestant. Several, to my ears at least, anticipate the style of the Scottish Psalters of the next century.

If any Appalachian dulcimer players are reading this, the third tune, also known as the Third Mode Melody, is written in the Phrygian mode, which starts on the third degree of the scale -- if "do" is C, it would be the E scale you get by playing from E to E on the white keys of a piano. There's a very interesting setting for piano arranged by William Wallace of Apex, N.C., which is written with no sharps or flats in the key signature (which looks like C major or A minor to me) but starts and ends on E above middle C. (Disclaimer: Some of this is guesswork, so if you know the modes and you're still reading this, please let me know if I've guessed wrong.) At any rate, it works on my Galax dulcimer with the drone strings capoed up from D to E.

Archbishop Parker's words, a metrical paraphrase of Psalm 2, are available on the CPDL.org website. I can't get the link to the sheet music PDF file to open. The first two verses:
Quare fremuerunt.
1. Why fumeth in sight: the Gentils spite,
In fury raging stout?
Why taketh in hond: the people fond,
Uayne thinges to bring about?

2. The kinges arise: the lordes deuise,
in counsayles mett therto:
Agaynst the Lord: with false accord,
against his Christ they go.
It goes on in this vein for 12 verses. (This version retains "u" for "v" in "vain" and "devise" (modern spellings). The 16th-century typographical convention.

William Wallace also has a webpage called easybyte.org full of simplified piano arrangements and an FAQ page with lots useful information on copyright. Including this, which has nothing to do with Tallis or Calvinist psalmody but is good to know anyway:
A 1935 US copyright is claimed on the song "Happy Birthday" with lyrics.

However, the melody to Happy Birthday was first published in 1893 as "Good Morning to All", within "Song Stories for the Kindergarten". Therefore this tune is within the public domain. This sheet music [on the easybyte.org website] does not contain any lyrics, and song titles cannot be copyrighted.
Which means, to my way of thinking, you can play it as long as you don't sing it. But don't take my word for it, consult an attorney before you try to sing it in a paying venue.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

HUM 221: Monday's class and Wednesday's assignment - Cherokees in Okla. and N.C.

For Wednesday, read pp. 44-45 in Zimmerman and Molyneaux. Also the essay by Carroll Arnett (Gogisgi) in "Here First." This is about the third time I've assigned it, and we're finally ready to discuss it. Arnett, of Oklahoma, discovered his Cherokee heritage after serving in the U.S. Marine Corps and went on to write poetry.

This week we'll study the Cherokee people. There are two main groups: The Cherokee Nation, who have lived in Oklahoma since they were forced to move there over the "Trail of Tears" in 1838, and the Eastern Band of Cherokee in western North Carolina, who are descended from people who hid in the mountains in 1838.

The Eastern Band has an attractive promotional website at http://www.cherokee-nc.com/ on their principal town in Cherokee, N.C. Pull down the menu on "The People" at the left of the page, and read the pages on Cherokee history, language and legends for starters. The website, created by an ad agency in nearby Asheville, is designed for tourists (even German tourists, who can click on the flag of Germany on the lower left of the page), but its information is accurate.

(The cherokee-nc.com website also offers help with geneology, for those of you who may have Cherokee ancestors.)

To get a feel for some of the history, we'll watch a Nammy-winning video on the Trail of Tears. Its blurb says:
Nearly a quarter of the Cherokee Nation froze or starved to death on the trail to Oklahoma Indian Territory. This video explores America's darkest period: President Andrew Jackson's Indian Removal Act of 1830 and the forced removal of the Cherokee Nation to Oklahoma in 1838. Nearly a quarter of the Cherokee National died during the Trail of Tears, arriving in Indian Territory with few elders and even fewer children. Presented by Wes Studi and narrated by James Earl Jones, "Trail of Tears Cherokee Legacy" has already captured an impressive array of awards including a Nammy for best long video. Known worldwide as "The Nammys" - Nama (Native American Music Awards) is an ultimate celebration of music & video honoring the outstanding achievements of today's leading Native American artists.
We will follow it with the national anthem of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. Yes. That's right. Nation. Indian tribes are semi-independent, sovereign nations, thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court case Worcester v. Georgia (1832). The Cherokees won the case, but it didn't stop them from being forced to go on the Trail of Tears.

We'll also see a few clips of people preserving the old traditions, which are largely lost now. Walker Calhoun, an Eastern Band elder who has preserved many of the old traditions and handed them down to later generations, sings the corn dance song while pictures of southern cornfields show in the background; the Cherokee revered corn as a food source and as one of their most important culture heroes (not quite a godess, but almost), named Sula.
A small group of traditional dancers demonstrates the bear dance in the old council grounds at Red Clay, Tenn. A Cherokee Indian performs his interpretation of a traditional war dance at the Ocmulgee Indian Celebration in Macon, Ga.

Another kind of tradition lives on in a Cherokee stickball game at the Nikwasi Celebration in Franklin, N.C. May 17, 2008. A writer for North Carolina's Smoky Mountain News described a game like this:
Like most of you reading this, I’ve experienced or observed in one way or another the more grueling sports played in this country: hockey, football, wrestling, boxing, and so on. But the near-violent mayhem of that Cherokee ball game was the first and only event that has ever turned my stomach; that is, I was a bit nauseous for a few moments. It appeared to my unschooled eyes that the players could, with a running start, hit anybody at any time with just about anything.

I asked a Cherokee man standing alongside me, “What are the rules?”

“Can’t touch the ball with your hands,” he replied.

“That’s it?” I asked.

“Pretty much,” he replied.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Bernice Johnson Reagon, Bill Moyers on spirituals

An excerpt from THE SONGS ARE FREE with Bernice Johnson Reagon, on Bill Moyers Journal Nov. 23, 2007. She had been speaking of "Steal Away (to Jesus)," and singing a couple of bars. Then:
BERNICE JOHNSON REAGON:In our tradition, we are told that crossing over, all of those words, "crossing over," "tomorrow," "in the morning when I rise" - all of those words, all of those phrases could be applied to any practical, everyday situation, talking about changing your life. It has to be a change that was as drastic as death so that, youknow, if you were saying "in the morning when I rise," you really might be talking about "in the morning when I rise, I'm leaving."

[Singing] If you don't go, If you don't go, If you don't go

So really within the African-American experience, you could sing ahh, you could own this story. You could own any story floating in you lee. And this has to do with this every moment being special. If every moment is sacred and If you are amazed and in awe most of the time when you find yourself breathing and not crazy, then you are ina state of constant thankfulness, worship and humility.
In addition to the transcript, Moyers' webpage has links to the Spirituals Project of the University of Denver.

Friday, March 20, 2009

'Paddy on the Handcar'

Very nice A modal (Dorian) fiddle tune

YouTube has a clip by an intergenerational fiddlers' club in New England called the Pioneer Valley Fiddlers playing it in a medley with "Red Haired Boy" ("Paddy on the Handcar" starts at 1:22). It's also a fife tune, and another clip shows the Whitehall Guard Fife & Drum Corps playing it in a Labor Day parade in Bethlehem, Pa.

Fiddlers Companion (click here for index) has this:
PADDY ON THE HANDCAR. See "Paddy on the Turnpike" [1], "Paddy on the Turnpike" [2]. Old‑Time, Breakdown. A Dorian. Standard tuning. AB (Silberberg): AABB (Phillips, Sweet). USA; Texas, N.C. Richard Nevins believes that the fiddler for the Texas group the Red Headed Fiddlers (who recorded this tune in the 1930), A.L. Steely, has a style "strikingly similar" to Leonard Rutherford. Sources for notated versions: Stuart Williams & Wes Brown [Phillips]; Stuart Williams (Seattle) [Silberberg]. Kuntz, Private Collection. Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes), vol. 1, 1994; pg. 178. Silberberg (Tunes I Learned at Tractor Tavern), 2002; pg. 114. Sweet (Fifer’s Delight), 1965/1981; pg. 81. County 527, The Red Headed Fiddlers ‑ "Old Time Fiddle Classics, Vol. 2." Document DOCD-8038, Red Headed Fiddlers – “Texas Fiddle Bands Vol. 1.” June Appal 007, Tommy Hunter ‑ "Deep In Tradition" (1976. Learned from his grandfather, fiddler James W. Hunter, Madison County, N.C.). Marimac 9038, Dan Gellert & Brad Leftwich - "A Moment in Time."
T:Paddy on the Handcar
Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion
K:A Dorian

'Road to Lisdoonvarna'

An Irish fiddle tune in Em or E Dorian. Link here PDF file of the music.

West Marin Ceoiltais (pron. KOL-tus), a self-described "slow-playing group" north of San Francisco; faster by Hillar Bergman of Traverse City, Mich.

Andrew Luntz' Fiddlers Companion (click here for index) has this:

Irish, Slide or Single Jig. E Dorian. Standard tuning. AB (Silberberg): AABB (most versions). The melody appears in both single jig and single reel versions (see “Road to Lisdoonvarna” [2]). It was popularized in the United States by Grey Larsen & Malcolm Dalglish, who paired the tune with the similar “O’Keeffe’s Slide [1].” Sources for notated versions: Chieftains (Ireland) [Brody]; Laurie Andres [Silberberg]. Lisdoonvarna, County Clare, was formerly a spa town where Victorian society partook of the mineral waters that were thought to have healing properties. It is located north and inland of the famous coastline Cliffs of Moher, in the rocky region called the Burren. The town is more famous now-a-days, particularly for tourists, as the location of an annual match-making festival. Brody (Fiddler’s Fakebook), 1983; pg. 231. Bulmer & Sharpley (Music from Ireland), vol. 4, 85 (appears as untitled single jig). S. Johnson (The Kitchen Musician No. 4: Collection of Fine Tunes), 1983 (revised 1991, 2001); pg. 6. Mallinson (Enduring), 1995; No. 69, pg. 29. Miller & Perron (Traditional Irish Fiddle Music), 1977; vol. 2, No. 56 (appears as "Jig, No. 56"). Miller & Perron (Irish Traditional Fiddle Music), 2nd Edition, 2006; pg. 46. Silberberg (Tunes I Learned at Tractor Tavern), 2002; pg. 131. Spandaro (10 Cents a Dance), 1980; pg. 25. Vallely (Learn to Play the Tin Whistle with the Armagh Pipers Club), vol. 1, 22. Adelphi 2002, Hickory Wind‑ "At the Wednesday Night Waltz." June Appal 016, Grey Larson & Malcolm Dalglish – “Banish Misfortune.”
See also listings at:
Jane Keefer’s Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources
Alan Ng’s Irishtune.info
(Hypertext deleted in links.)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Prairieland Dulcimer Strings, Springfield, Ill.

A playlist for Prairieland D(ulcimer)-strings (retrieved from email):

> Set 1
> Amazing Grace
> Coleman's March
> Gray Cat on a Tennessee Farm
> Happy Land
> I feel Like Traveling On
> I'll Fly Away
> Morning Has Broken
> Rocky Top
> Spanish Fandango
> Sweet Hour of Prayer
> Unclouded Day
> Wildwood Flower
> Set 2
> Rock the Cradle Joe
> June Apple
> Going to Boston
> Cripple Creek
> You Are My Sunshine
> All People That on Earth Do Well
> Come Thou Fount
> Shall We Gather at the River?
> Devil's Nine (9) Questions
> Going Down to Cairo
> Sweet By and By
> Where the Soul of a Man Never Dies (AKA Caanan's Land)
> Rondeau (Masterpiece Theater)
> Set 3
> Black Mountain Rag
> Cotton Pickin' Time
> Jambalaya
> Jaybird
> Liza Jane
> Lullaby Suo Gan
> Mississippi Sawyer
> Monday Night Waltz
> Sally Goodin
> Samuel's Song
> Spotted Pony
> The Little Old Log Cabin in the Lane
> The Minstrel Boy
> Waltzing Matilda
> Set 4
> Angelina Baker
> Can't Help Falling In Love - Elvis
> Have Thine Own Way Lord
> Lee's Waltz
> Love Is Little - Shaker Tune
> Old Joe Clark
> Squirrel Heads and Gravy
> 'Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus
> When the Roll is Called Up Yonder
> Whiskey Before Breakfast>

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Bernice Johnson Reagon on Australian radio

Bernice Johnson Reagon, of the Freedom Singers, Sweet Honey in the Rock and the Smithsonian Institute, interviewed by Andrew Ford on "The Music Show" Australian ABC Radio, Aug. 17, 2002. Transcript at:


discusses 'If You Don't Go Don't Hinder Me'

The music on the community base level documents what's happening to the people and what people think about it. And it really is historical evidence that needs to be considered by anybody trying to reconstruct American culture. You must, if you're serious and have integrity as a historian, consider what people are creating to sort of support their lives and support their efforts to move and change their lives.

* * *

... and performing after 9/11
One of the things we found in performing in the aftermath of September 11th was how much people who came to our audiences carried with them. It was not simply loss or the sense of unsafety, but also how were you going to handle all of the things that were thrown up in the air? One, an airplane is a bomb; two, the whole airline system was shut down; three, I don't know from one minute to the next whether I am safe or not. A sort of coming of age. The other thing that was really a crisis was the idea that there is still too much of a notion in our country that it's a white country, and therefore when you have something like that bombing and then the identification of a particular ethnic group as the carriers of that attack, then those American citizens who may look like some stereotypical notion were actually in great danger and there were all sorts of quickie lessons going out in our culture, saying "Look, Americans look all sorts of different ways. Don't beat them up, don't kill them, you might be really beating up an American citizen." So we as a culture, have been rocked by this and we found that our repertoire, that talked about the importance of respecting people no matter where they come from, and not pre-judging people because of their history or their legacy, remembering little things like Nelson Mandela was called a terrorist, just not allowing yourself to be caught up in a situation where you're not thinking and you're not questioning and you're not participating in a discussion because you're afraid that if you question or you criticise a move you might not be patriotic. And Sweet Honey's repertoire has been very, very important in trying to embrace that complexity of what we are facing. As we did that, then Enron fell apart, and then it was WorldCom, and they tried to say it was an aberration, but every time we looked up, we were saying how messed up is this economic system? And so the people who come into our audiences carry all of that, because that day their pension might have been wiped out. And we have songs that deal with all of those kinds of challenges and so our work has been fairly intense. We come to Australia with a very, very heightened sense of the importance of having music that embraces and names the complexity of challenges we face.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Website on early American hymnody

MIDI files and JPEGs of early American hymns, spirituals and English West Gallery songs edited by Mark D. Rhoads of Bethel Univesity in St. Paul, Minn.

Anthology of
The American Hymn-Tune Repertory:
The Colonial Era to the Civil War

[In the for-what-it's worth department: Cites my paper on folk hymnody in Illinois.]

Thursday, March 12, 2009

HUM 221: Some Ojibwe/Chippewa dance

Mille Lacs Band 42nd Annual Traditional Pow Wow (7:27

flag raising - grand entry - honor guard with eagle flags, U.S. flags, service branch and POW-MIA flags jingle dancers men's traditional -- ladies' traditional

grand entrance is followed by an honor song celebrating veterans

A weekend celebration of culture and tradition held at the Mille Lacs Band pow wow grounds just north of Onamia in Vineland, Minn.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s77OOEAh6Kc ITASCA Community College pow-wow -- Ojibwe instructor Larry Aitken explains some Anishinaabe traditions. drum honor guard (3:22)

Compare the grand entry of large http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k1Eud_cIvI4 Chicago Indian Center Pow-wow in 2008

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

HUM 221: Awesome webpage on Ojibwe culture

It's put up on the Web by the Milwaukee Public Museum as part of a website on Wisconsin's Native American peoples.

It has sections on:

"For many, reservation life was and is a constant struggle to support families through interaction with American society and maintain aspects of traditional life," the MPM's survey concludes. "Despite considerable contact and intermarriage with Whites, many traditional practices survive in the strong use of the Ojibwe language as well as religious practices, oral tradition, knowledge of herbal medicines, traditional crafts, and continued reliance on maple sugaring and collecting wild rice. These resources are augmented with some lumbering, seasonal harvesting of off-reservation fruit crops, wage work, and acting as guides for White fishermen as well as wage work and increasing employment in tribal government and tribal enterprises."

Thanks to Christina for finding this website.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Sample post

This is a sample post.

HUM 221: For Wed., March 11

Be ready to blog on this question: How community-minded are the Ojibwe or Anishinaabe people? What specific activities do you find that they engage in as a community -- for example powwows, "sugarbushing" for subsistance, spiritual practices and ceremonies? How important is it to them to feel like part of a community?

Post your answers as comments to this post.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

HUM 221: 'Blue Winds Dancing': Assignment sheet

Here's the long version of your assignment sheet, which I'll also hand out in hard copy in class. (Please note: Since several members of the class are out of town for a baseball tournament, I am extending the deadline to include the entire week of March 23.) I'll have some more tips and instructions below.

(I'm also linking to a sample reader response essay I wrote when I was teaching freshman English. It's about a country musician instead of a Native American author, but it shows how I use the "Circumstances," "Background" and "Analysis" headings to get into the paper. It also shows how I like to use a quote from the text and analyze the quote in my own words.)

Assignment: Reader Response Paper
"Blue Winds Dancing" by Tom Whitecloud

Read the short story “Blue Winds Dancing” by Tom Whitecloud and write a 1,000- to 1,250-word paper in which you analyze your response to the story and the specific things about the story that made you respond to it as you did. You will need to look up some information about Whitecloud and his tribal heritage, i.e. the Ojibwe or Chippewa people, for background. But I want your paper to be the product of your own independent judgment. [Please see Note on Plagiarism below.] You may use either MLA or APA documentation. Due the week of March 23-27, the week after spring break. Start by reading “Blue Winds Dancing.” As you do, ask yourself these three questions.

  • What about the story stands out in my mind?
  • What in my background, values and experience makes me react as I do? How does it compare to Whitecloud’s background and experience as a college student?
  • What specific things about the story trigger my reaction? Which specific passages speak to me?

Thinking about these questions will help you frame a thesis. For this paper, you have to narrow your topic. You might decide, for example, that Whitecloud describes the same feelings anyone has upon going off to college and returning home for a vacation. So you might say his story is universal, even though it is grounded in his memory of returning home for an Ojibwe dance. How do you feel about it? Another example: You might say when Whitecloud says the drum is the heartbeat of the universe, he is reflecting a common Native American belief about music, dance and drumming. How do you feel about it? There are literally hundreds of good directions you can take your paper. Whatever your thesis is, be sure to say how the story speaks to you. In writing your paper, follow this format:

  • Circumstances. Give a two- to four-paragraph introduction to your essay. Start by describing what's on your mind as you read the story, how you feel about it, what you had for dinner, what the weather's like, anything that sets the stage.
  • Background. Here's where you give the necessary information about the piece. You don’t have to dwell on this, but at least tell about Whitecloud’s background as an Obijwe who went away to college in California. The story is autobiographical, so this stuff matters.
  • Analysis. This is by far the longest part of the paper, and the most detailed. In many ways, it will read like other papers you’ve written in English and humanities classes. As always, argue a thesis. Support your thesis by quoting passages from the story and analyzing how they affect your response. Remember, in college-level writing, an unsupported thesis is sudden death!

Email me your paper at pellertsen@sci.edu as a Microsoft Word attachment to the email message. If you do not follow the content format stipulated above, or if I suspect plagiarism, your paper may be submitted to an electronic data base for analysis of its dependence on unacknowledged sources. By turning in the paper for a grade in the course, you expressly assent to such electronic monitoring.

Note on Plagiarism

My writing assignments are designed to be plagiarism-proof. If you follow the steps I list on the assignment sheet, they'll help you write a paper on which you exercise your independent judgment, come to your own conclusion and support it with evidence drawn from reading the story. If you don't follow the steps, I will stop reading your paper as soon as I realize you're not answering my questions. In that event, I may l return it to you with no grade and enter a zero (0) in my gradebook which will not be removed until you turn in a completed, original paper. If I suspect plagiarism, I may be required to submit papers to TurnItIn for electronic analysis of their dependence on unacknowledged sources.

* Warning: Be careful to avoid using canned term papers or college essays about the story; there are literally dozens available on the "paper mills" or plagiarism websites, and they are uniformly superficial and poorly written. You can always spot them because sooner or later they get around to asking you for money, either to "join" the website or to see a complete essay on the topic. You'll get taken to the cleaners twice if you do, once when you buy the eassay and once when your instructor spots it. I wouldn't even quote them in a college paper.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Webpages on slow sessions (Irish), playing by ear

From a website called Treelight hosted and written by Eric Armstrong of Mountain View, Calif., whose credentials and interests include software systems, martial arts and Irish session music. His notes on music, especially on sheet music and playing by ear, look helpful, even though I didn't have time to read them thoroughly. Note to self: Come back to these links during spring break! Below are some of Armstrong's links, copied and pasted from his music page.

Music as a Second Language: Learning to Play and Playing with Others

Learning to Play By Ear
Slow Sessions (advice on sheet music, trading tunes, and accelerating the tempo)
Building a Community with Music and Dance

Irish Music: Music Anyone Can Play -- By Ear!!
How I Got Started in Irish Music
Introducing Irish Music and Dance
Top 40 Irish Tunes

Friday, March 06, 2009

COMM 209: Written assignment for Monday

Read all the definitions and discussions of what a feature story is in Tim Harrower's "Inside Reporting," pages _____ and _____. Discuss some of them -- in other words, tell what you like about them and what you don't. Come to your own 25-words-or-less definition of a feature story. Length: 500 words.

In class March 6

Post your response to the Aleutian art work we linked to as comments to this post.

HUM 221: Paper No. 2, 'Blue Winds Dancing'

If you want to read ahead over the weekend, here is a text of "Blue Winds Dancing" by Tom Whitecloud. We will write a reader response on it over spring break.


Did I say "we?"

I meant "you." You will write the paper over spring break.

If you want to get started reading the story now. If you'll be on the baseball trip to Arizona before spring break, you can get started reading at " http://blog.forrestcroce.com/blue-winds-dancing-by-tom-whitecloud/2007/12/24/, and I'll post the assignment sheet below.
Whitecloud was an Ojibwe Indian, the people we've been studying this week, and I'll post more links in the next few days. The paper is called a reflective response, and I'll post more instructions on how to do that later.

HUM 221: Native American Cultural Expression
Springfield College/Benedictine University
Spring Semester 2009

Reflective Response – ”Blue Winds Dancing”

Read the short story “Blue Winds Dancing” by Tom Whitecloud and write a 1,000- to 1,250-word paper in which you analyze your response to the story and the specific things about the story that made you respond to it as you did. You will need to look up some information about Whitecloud and his tribal heritage, i.e. the Ojibwe or Chippewa people, for background. But I want your paper to be the product of your own independent judgment. (Warning: Be careful to avoid using canned term papers or college essays about the story; there are literally dozens available on the plagiarism websites, and they are uniformly superficial and poorly written.) You may use either MLA or APA documentation. Due March _____, the Monday after spring break.

Monday, March 02, 2009

The ultimate website!

Follow this link: http://www.w3schools.com/html/lastpage.htm

HUM 221: Assignment for Wednesday

Surf around the Mille Lacs Band's Ojibwe culture website. Start with Mille Lacs elder Beatrice Taylor's essay on "Sharing" where she says:
In the Anishinaabe culture, it is our custom to help one another. This is true not just of relations, but of anyone, maybe even somebody you don’t even know. Because we believe that when you do good for someone who needs help, some day you will be helped.
What else does she say about people's relation to the community? How does it compare to our culture?

Another essay you should read is by Ken Weyaus Sr., another Mille Lacs Band elder, who writes about "Coming Home" ... he says he lived in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn., but "got tired of the rat race" and moved back to the reservation.
Today, [tribal] museum visitors’ jaws drop when they realize how rough it was back then. The way some people look at it today, it was hard living.

But that was just the life. You had to get the maple sap and let it boil down eight hours. You had to wash clothes by hand. When our grandparents lived here, everything they needed was here. They had sap, fish, deer, the wildlife, all the natural things they needed to live off the land.

A lot of stuff is easier today, but you still need eight hours to boil down the sap.
The reservation exists not just as a community but also as a part of history. When you read about how Indians were put on reservations, Indians did have a say. This is our land. We were put here, and that’s just like anybody coming from Europe or some other place and settling here.
Be ready to blog on this question: How community-minded are the people of the Mille Lacs Band? What specific activities do you find that they engage in as a community -- for example powwows, "sugarbushing" for subsistance, spiritual practices and ceremonies? How important is it to them to feel like part of a community? Post your answers as comments to this post.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

HUM 221: Obibwe/Chippewa/Anishinaabe links, assignments

One of the largest and most influential American Indian peoples is variously referred to as Ojibwe, Chippewa or Anishinaabe. (Ojibwe and Chippewa are two pronunciations of the same Native word, which apparently referred to the puckered moccasins they wore; Anishinaabe means "original people.") The terms are used more or less interchangably, although "Anishinaabe" is gaining favor.

The Indian Languages website has a good portal to Ojibwe websites. It's a good starting place, and a good place to go back to if you want to find out more about the Chippewa or Anishinaabe people.

This YouTube video called "Ojibway Heartbeat" will help us get in the mood to learn more about the people. It combines pictures from a powwow, a social dancing event, with nature shots of northern Minnesota or Wisconsin to a sound track of pow wow drumming. In a few days, we'll read a story that involves Ojibwe drumming. So listen up!

The Mille Lacs Band of Minnesota has a website on Ojibwe culture with links to a variety of brief essays. They are excellent.

We'll start with one by Don Wedll, who is developing a 50-year plan for the Band that addresses education, housing, health care, and other needs, on "Ojibwe History – Why It Matters" ... it gives a very brief sketch of the Band's history. "History isn’t about a bunch of places, names and dates – it’s about people<" Wedil said. "People whose lives were shaped centuries ago by events, and people whose lives are being shaped today by the echoes of the same events." Another good starting point is an essay by Natalie Weyaus, an elder of the Mille Lacs Band, tells of "Growing up on the reservation" ... and the sense of community there. "When people talk about old times, they always talk about our families being poor," she said. "But we weren’t."

Elder Jim Clark tells a legend on the origin of drums in a skirmish between white soldiers and unarmed Ojibwe people. "The soldiers went to where the Anishinaabe were, and they saw this drumming and dancing and all these people having a good time. And the soldiers dropped their guns and went over there and joined the people." Upshot: The people will be safe from soldiers with guns as long as they have their drums.

Powwows. Lynelle Northbird, Mille Lacs Band member who has been dancing since she was a toddler and got her first eagle feather "because I don’t run around and raise hack, and [for] the respect that I show for my elders," tells about what it's like "On the powwow trail" ...

Also The Meaning of Powwows" by Amik (Larry Smallwood), an elder if the Mille Lacs Band. He says:

  • "Big Drum Ceremonial powwows that are used to pray for life and goodness for all Anishinabe people ... held in the fall and spring, 26 weekends in all. This is where people bring their asaymah (tobacco), to offer prayers to the Creator for the goodness of their selves, their children and grandchildren.
  • "Our Grand Hinckley celebration held yearly is a huge Competition powwow that attracts dancers and singers from all over the US and Canada. These dancers dance in certain categories such as jingle, fancy, traditional, grass, etc. ... Competition powwows need singing judges for the singing groups and dance judges (male and female) to judge the dancers. These judges are picked from the head judge from different areas such as different reservations and different states. To make sure everyone gets an equal chance at the prize money."
  • A Mille Lacs Band "annual powwow held in August ... also referred to as a “Traditional powwow.” This is a powwow where all people are invited to com sing, dance and visit. The majority of the songs and dances are called intre-tribal and not restricted to a special dance category or age group. This is a good social inter-tribal dance celebration, with plenty of leisurely dancing for everyone to enjoy."
Keep these descriptions of powwows, especially the last one in mind. We will encounter about a similar Ojibwe social dance when we read Tom Whitecloud's "Blue Winds Dancing."

Intermission. Let's try to learn how to say "hello" in Ojibwe in this language instruction video. The Ojibwe or Anishinaabe people are making great efforts to revive their language. Listen carefully at the beginning and you'll hear them called "Anishinaabe" in their native language.

Finally, a powerful video called "Knowing the Ojibwe" combines footage from a pow wow on a Minnesota reservation with an interview with Richard Morrison, a pipe carrier or traditional spiritual leader. Technical quality isn't great, but what Morrison has to say is worth listening to. His traditional Native American religion was banned for a time during the 20th century, and parts of it are still not shared with outsiders. But he explains some of the ethical principles behind it in terms that are common to many of us. Watch for what he says at the end of his interveiw about what each of us can do in our own communities. Something to think about.