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Of Comets and Connoisseurs. Art History Meets Astrophysics.

Sherlock Holmes famously said to Dr Watson that he didn’t know the earth went round the sun. From time to time in the canon of stories, Holmes’s ignorance of astronomy is refuted. There was a clever use of this in the BBC’s Sherlock where the outcome of a case, as well as somebody’s life, depended upon Holmes deciphering a  painting like a connoisseur. After scanning the signature, the facture and other parts of the canvas, it suddenly hit the detective that a series of paint splotches were arrayed in the shape of an astronomical cluster. The fraudster-artist having a penchant for astronomy, had painted a supernova or an exploding star in the sky; but the snag was it was only visible in 1858, over a hundred years after the work was supposedly executed. A stellar performance in more ways than one.

the-manneport-cliff-at-etretat-sunset (1)

Now, this blend of astrophysics and art history is no longer in the realm of fiction. An astrophysicist and his team say that they can use their expertise to date Monet’s paintings to the exact minute. Read all about it in the Independent.

The link between painting and celestial bodies is fascinating. My favourite example is William Dyce’s Pegwell Bay, Kent, A Recollection of October 5th, 1858. If you look hard you will see the trail of a comet, Donati’s Comet, observed on June 2nd of the same year by an Italian astronomer. Maybe our astrophysicist friends can detect the exact minute Dyce painted this?

I wonder if the producers of Sherlock had Donati’s comet in mind when they dreamt up their version. Both comets, one fictitious of course, appeared in 1858.


"Political Catholics," Católicos Por La Raza & Remembering the Chicano Moratorium

Arlene M. Sánchez Walsh

I was around 7 years old, it was my birthday party and my first self-realization of who I was became clear as my father, never an activist type, placed a “Chicano Power” patch on my blouse. The brown raised fist was nothing I was familiar with, and nothing I had seen anyone in my family wear–so the curiosity was planted–what was this Chicano Power? and why interrupt my birthday party with such political symbolism certainly totally lost on all of us 7-year olds lining up for the piñata?                                                        Tomorrow is the 43rd anniversary of the Chicano Moratorium, one of the largest anti-Vietnam war protests in Los Angeles (30,000) and at that time in the U.S. It took place literally steps away from where I grew up. The protesters had a litany of grievances–chief among them was a “moratorium” against the sending over more Latino/a draftees to Vietnam.  There were also grievances against the dual educational system that existed in Los Angeles at the time,  (and to a large extent, still does), grievances against police brutality, and among some of the organizers of the Chicano Moratorium, an insistence that the religious institution that many Chicanos called their spiritual home, the Roman Catholic church, begin to take their interests seriously.  Historian Mario T. García calls the activist coming of age among 1960s/70s Chicanos, the “Political Catholic” phase, particularly among a group of activists organized by Ricardo Cruz, leader of Católicos Por La Raza (CPLR)

Cruz was born in the Highland Park section of Los Angeles, while a college student at California State University Los Angeles, he and a group of friends founded CPLR in response to the neglect Chicanos experienced in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles under the conservative reign of Cardinal Francis McIntyre.  CPLR’s demanded the Archdiocese allocate resources for parochial schools equally, for more Latino and/or Spanish-speaking priests, and for the Church to became more active on the side of those Latinos/as suffering from poverty. Perhaps the CPLR’s boldest action was a prayer vigil in December 1969 at the newly opened St. Basil’s church on Wilshire Blvd., built in one of the richest neighborhoods in LA. as predominately Chicano parish churches and schools were closing.  CPLR held the vigil/protest insisting that McIntyre meet with them to discuss issues relevant to the Chicano/a community. The evening did not end well, and the protesters kept. coming back until they were arrested.  CPLR held an “alternative Mass” on Christmas Eve of 1969 with activist priest Fr. Blasé Bonpane presiding–using tortillas for communion.  This mass raised the ire of the Archdiocese, who viewed Bonpane as a trouble-maker from his days as an activist priest who’d been “kicked out ” of Guatemala.  

As many CPLR members were untangling themselves from legal issues stemming from their St. Basil’s protest, (they were defended by legendary Chicano activist lawyer Oscar “Zeta” Acosta)–who, if you have only seen him depicted by Benicio De La Torre in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”–would lead you to believe that he was simply too drunk and drug-addled to be an effective advocate…to the contrary, Acosta was effective and all CPLR protesters were acquitted.  By 1970, Cardinal McIntyre retired, making way for a more sympathetic leader, Timothy Manning, who supported changes to allocating resources, brought in more Latino and Spanish-Speaking priests, and even helped Ricardo Cruz obtain his law license.

CPLR helped organize the Chicano Moratorium, which began in the morning at Belvedere Park, and was supposed to end peacefully later that day at another park in East Los Angeles.  There were skirmishes and police action which ended in the still controversial death of Los Angeles Times journalist Ruben Salazar.  The CLPR’s activities were folded into the ongoing work of the Archdiocese to include more Latinos/as in its work–and since the U.S. Catholic church is now fully 1/3 Latino/a–well, its now a demographic certainty that the Church of McIntyre and Manning no longer exists.

Cruz went on to become a lawyer, whose most famous case was exposing the forced sterilization of Latinas at LA County/USC Medical Center in the 1970s. I actually kept that blouse with my torn Chicano Power patch, but eventually, like most kid’s clothes–I played my way out of them.  As I wandered through high school, and eventually college–I worked my way through my undergrad years at the East Los Angeles library–putting books away and reading about the history of where I grew up.  One day, I was approached by an elderly woman who asked me if we had any materials on the Chicano Moratorium–I knew we did, so I showed her the special collections that we had–picture files, copies of La Raza–the official magazine of the Chicano movement, and assorted other materials. She told me that her son had marched, and that he’d been beaten up by the Los Angeles County Sheriffs–of which I had no doubt.  She grew wistful and asked me if I’d ever heard of the Moratorium and what happened –I told her that I knew and she seemed satisfied.  Before she walked away she remarked  “You know mija, that clinic across the street (Edward J. Roybal Health Clinic), and this library (East Los Angeles Public Library), they would not be here if it weren’t for my son–this place was bought with blood.” 

A.A. Allen: God’s Man of Faith & Power

Arlene Sanchez-Walsh

43 years ago this month,  A.A. Allen died in San Francisco, of acute alcoholism allegedly surrounded by empty pill bottles.  Allen was a tent evangelist who hit his stride in the 1960s and 70s. Previous to that, he was converted in a Methodist church in the 1930s after a hardscrabble childhood, where by his own admissions, Allen was smoking, drinking, and “carousing” with women by the tender age of 12.  Allen became Pentecostal in the 1940s and joined the Assemblies of God, where after a few pastoral appointments, he settled in Corpus Christi, Texas.  Allen became a healing evangelist, and added in copious amounts of exorcisms along with prosperity gospel preaching. His falling out with the Assemblies, like most contestations that become history, depends on who you believe.

Allen tells a story of a “dead” denomination that refused to build him a bigger church and refused to sponsor his evangelistic radio ministry.  Those events put a strain on their relationship, but what caused the Assemblies to sever their relationship with Allen for good was Allen allegedly jumped bail in Tennessee, (Allen’s folks deny it), to escape a drunk driving charge. Allen remained an independent evangelist, settling in Miracle Valley, Arizona, from the mid 1950s to his death in 1970.

This picture of A.A.Allen apparently with a cross on his forehead says much. According to Allen, he tried to get rid of it and it would not disappear, thereby marking him, like so many Christians past, a recipient of a unique physical marker that signified their holiness and devout faith.  Allen’s healing prowess was so great, that he was said to have prayed over shredded pieces of his old tents and sent them to followers as a healing point of contact–in exchange for a monetary gift.  

For decades after his death, and during his ministry, Allen and his followers claimed that terrible things would befall those who came against him. There are claims that the medical examiner, who wrote the autopsy report, committed suicide, and that the suicide was directly related to God’s ability to smite Allen’s enemies. I know, I know, but with these fascinating narratives, there rarely has to be proof.  What Allen’s supporters did and are still doing is maintaining the sacredness of Allen’s narrative–creating an alternative history that his supporters, and supporters of the divine healing movement can use to rescue Allen from his checkered past. There are sworn affidavits online by people who refute everything from their past statements about Allen’s drunk driving in 1955 to statements about his death.  There is something about celebrity preachers who meet ignominious ends that rallies their followers to invest in alternative histories of events that preserves their hero’s(ine’s) status and secure the idea that the faith works–that healing works, as if the faith itself were under attack.  
I am reminded of one of my church field trips to Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California, where Aimee Semple McPherson is buried, and where Foursquare folks still go to pay their respects. Several years ago, I went to my first and last church field trip, knowing that her contested cause of death would not be mentioned, (since you still cannot find it mentioned on the official denominational website–I check regularly). The graveside memorial trip was just that–hagiographic musings of McPherson’s deep convictions and healing prowess.  Her death was glossed over as “coming after long suffering.” What the denomination, or perhaps few in the church know is that McPherson, after years of physical maladies, and what was probably undiagnosed depression, took an overdose of Seconal.  Whether it was accidental we will never know, but we do know that McPherson’s reputation as the founder of the Foursquare movement, once tarnished by rumors of an affair that led to a faked kidnapping, was not going to be sullied again by her death. Seconal after all, was the same drug that claimed the lives of Judy Garland, Tennessee Williams, and Jimi Hendrix.  It may be fair to speculate that what bothers some about this dark period of McPherson’s life most, is that drug use would have been considered sinful. The Foursquare version of McPherson’s cause of death, kidney failure, is also problematic, since it calls into question a very basic inconsistency many see with healing evangelists, why they are not healed?

That the McPherson’s and Allen’s of the Pentecostal world have become celebrities, with public personas that require crafting and re-crafting is no surprise.  These narratives are exactly that–spiritual life stories. They are subject to the social, cultural and political influences of the people who are invested in maintaining their alternative narratives and this is what history is at least partially about, history is not spiritual genealogy.  I think the problem I had with that graveside service at Forest Lawn as well as the interviews I’ve conducted with Allen’s followers, is not that there are alternative histories out there, ( I have spent my adult life chasing those histories, and am still paying that student loans attesting to my unhealthy fixation with that noble dream).  The problem I have with many of my brethren is simple–why not?  It is easy to craft your own story, so why wouldn’t celebrity preachers past present and future, want a hand in crafting their best story? It’s as if these celebrity preachers were not subject to the same  pull of pride, ego, and self-absorption.  Elevated to celebrity status by theie own making and the desires of their followers, Allen and Sister Aimee, were never able to live up to their billing–and were much more flawed than their followers will ever be able to concede. 

Teaching the complete history of the United States – Lewis & Clark and Manifest Destiny

American Indians and tribal nations have been too long overlooked in the teaching and scholarship of the history of the United States. I have written about the crucial role that indigenous peoples and nations played, for example, in the Lewis and Clark expedition and in American Manifest Destiny.  Robert J. Miller, Native America, Discovered and Conquered: Thomas Jefferson, Lewis & Clark, and Manifest Destiny (Prager Publishers, 2006; paperback University of Nebraska Press, 2008). 

I am posting here a list of primary documents that teachers should consider using to teach a more complete, wholistic, diverse, and true history of these events.

1. Papal documents from 1436 and 1453 granting Portugal license to conquer and christianize the Canary Islands and the west coast of Africa. (1436 Papal bull Romanus Pontifex.)

2. 1492 Spanish contracts and instructions to Columbus that agreed to make him the admiral of any lands he acquired for King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella in the New World.

3. Pope Alexander VI’s papal bulls, Inter caetera divinai and Inter caetera II, in May 1493 that granted Portugal and Spain the rights to conquer and christianize the non-christian world and to take title to the “discovered” lands. The Pope divided the world with a line of demarcation 100 leagues west of the Azore Islands and authorized Spain to “discover” west of the line and granted Portugal the same right east of the line. (The 1493 Bull “Inter caetera divinae” granting Americas to Spain, May 4, 1493, Church and State Through the Centuries 153-57 (Sidney Z. Ehler & John 13. Morrall, trans. & eds 1967).)

4. The 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas between Spain and Portugal which moved the Pope’s line of demarcation westward to 370 leagues west of the Cape Verde Islands so that Portugal could possess the Brazilian part of South America. In 1529, the countries signed the Treaty of Saragossa to determine the dividing line between their designated areas in the Pacific Ocean.

5. Writings of the priest, royal advisor, and University of Salamanca professor Francisco de Vitoria that natives had natural human rights that Spain had to honor, that the Papal bulls did not pass title to the lands to Spain, but that Indians had duties under the Law of Nations to allow the Spanish to travel in their lands, to take profits from communally held lands and assets like minerals, and to preach the gospel. If the natives prevented the Spanish from exercising these rights, the Spanish could “defend” themselves and wage a “lawful” and “just” war on the natives. Franciscus de Victoria, De Indis et de Iure Belli Relectiones 128 (E. Nys ed., J. Bate trans. 1917) (book is in Latin and English).

6. The Requerimiento which King Ferdinand ordered to be drafted to control Spanish conquests in the New World. This document was used from 1513-1556. It was required to be read to natives so that they could accept christianity before the Spanish attacked them in a “just war” to force their conversion. The document informed Indians that God had given charge of the human race to the Pope and that he had donated their lands to the Spanish King and Queen. Indians could take time to consider the document, but they had to accept the Church and Pope as their ruler and the Spanish King and Queen or if they did not or delayed, then the Spanish would forcefully enter the country and make war on the natives. Reprinted in The Spanish Tradition in America 5 8-60 (Charles Gibson ed. 1968).

7. King Henry VII’s 1497 charter to John Cabot to explore and conquer the New World: "Seek out, discover, and find whatsoever isles, countries, regions or provinces of the heathen and infidels whatsoever they be, and in what part of the world soever they be, which before this time have been unknown to all Christians." Reprinted in Documents of American History 5-6 (Henry S. Commager ed. 8th ed. 1968).

8. Queen Elizabeth I charters to Humphrey Gilbert in 1578 and in 1584 to Walter Raleigh to colonize Virginia and find “heathen and barbarous lands . . . not actually possessed of any Christian prince or people … to have, hold, occupy and enjoy . . . ."

9. King James I 1606 charter to the Virginia Company to colonize Virginia and to propagate christianity and bring the infidels and savages to human civility. Reprinted in Documents of American History 8-12 (Henry S. Commager ed. 8th ed. 1968).

10. King George III’s Royal Proclamation of 1763 preventing his colonists and colonies from buying or even entering Indian lands, which were defined as all lands west of the crest of the Allegheny and Applachia Mountains. The King said these lands were reserved for him although he had not yet purchased them.

11. The American Articles of Confederation, art. IX (1781) attempting to keep the states from buying Indian lands.

12. George Washington’s Sept. 7, 1783 letter to a congressional committee calling Indians “The Savage as Wolf’ and predicting that they would disappear before the advance of the American frontier just as the wolf and animals. Reprinted in Documents of United States Indian Policy (Francis Paul Prucha ed., 3d ed. 2000).

13. The NorthWest Ordinance of 1787 promising to protect Indian property and rights unless the U.S. had to attack them in “just and lawful wars.” (“Just wars” straight out of de Victoria and Spanish Discovery theory of 1536 and English ideas from the late 1550s & early 1600s.)

14. The Interstate and Indian Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, art. I, sec. 8, cl. 3, placing all responsibility to control commerce "with the Indian Tribes" in the hands of Congress; and the references to Indians in art. I, sec.2 and the 14th Amendment, sec.2; and the Treaty clause in Article VI.

15. U.S. legislative enforcement of the Doctrine of Discovery and the Indian Commerce Clause power on July 22, 1790 (now codified at 25 U.S.C. 177). No person or state can buy Indian or tribal lands without the permission of the U.S.

16. The 1802 Compact with Georgia, in which the Jefferson administration agreed to Remove the Cherokee Indians from Georgia as soon as possible even though the nation possessed treaty rights to remain on their lands forever.

17. President Jefferson’s Jan. 18, 1803 secret message to Congress seeking a $2,500 appropriation to fund the Lewis and Clark expedition for commercial purposes. This is the only authority for the mission Jefferson could perceive in the Constitution. He told Congress that the U.S. could cut England out of the lucrative fur trade with China. Donald Jackson, ed. Letters of the Lewis and Clark Expedition with Related Documents, 1783-1854, 2 volumes (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2d ed. 1978), Vol. 1, pp. 10-14 (Jefferson Message to Congress Jan. 18, 1803).

18. Jefferson’s June 20, 1803 letter of instructions to Meriwether Lewis showing the primary objectives of dealing commercially with tribes and Indians. Letters of the Lewis and Clark Expedition with Related Documents, 1783-1854, Vol. 1, pp. 61-66 (Jefferson Letter to Lewis June 20, 1803).

19. The Louisiana Purchase 1803 treaty with France. (It contains a provision on how the U.S. was to treat Indians and tribes that contrasts with the provision regarding how the U.S. would treat the French/Spanish inhabitants of the Territory).

20. President Jefferson’s Jan. 22, 1804 letter of instruction to Meriwether Lewis and how he was to take U.S. sovereignty to the tribes now that the U.S. had made the Louisiana Purchase; “Being now become sovereigns of the country, without however any diminution of the Indian rights of occupancy. . . .“ That simple sentence is a very good definition of how Chief Justice Marshall defined the Doctrine of Discovery in Johnson v. Mcintosh in 1823. Letters of the Lewis and Clark Expedition with Related Documents, 1783-1854, Vol. 1, pp. 165-66 (Jefferson Letter to Lewis January 22, 1804).

21. Jefferson’s understanding of the Doctrine of Discovery: (a) 1802 Compact with Georgia to remove the Cherokee Indians from Georgia; (b) his 1803 letter to Gov. William Henry Harrison that everyone knew  that all Indians would have to be removed west of the Mississippi River one day; (c) his 1804 letter to Lewis that the U.S. was now the sovereign of the Louisiana Territory; (d) his 1808 letter to Congress that the U.S. should start buying the land west of the Mississippi from the “native proprietors”; (e) by 1813 Jefferson wrote that “we now must pursue them [Indians] to extermination.”

22. Jefferson’s written comments on the successes of the Expedition show the extensive involvement of Indian affairs in the Expedition.

23. Johnson v. M'Intosh, 21 U.S. 543 (1823). The Supreme Court adopts and defines the Doctrine of Discovery as the federal common law under which this country was settled. The Doctrine limits Indian and tribal real property rights because tribes cannot sell to whomever they wish for whatever amount they can get. They can only sell to the United States. But until then, they hold the valuable property rights of use, occupancy, and development. Tribes also lost some sovereign powers because the U.S. gained power over tribes in that Indian tribes can only deal with the United States and no other country.

24. The Removal Act, 4 Stat. 411-12. One result of the Discovery Doctrine was the Removal Era of federal Indian policy that officially commenced in 1830. This Act led to the Trail of Tears and the removal of most Indians west of the Mississippi just as President Jefferson had planned. Jefferson's ideas, repeated by all subsequent presidents, was the genesis of Manifest Destiny.

25. Pres. Jackson’s Message to Congress on Removal of Southern Indians Dec. 1835.

26. President Polk’s 1845 Inaugural Address claiming the Oregon country and that American settlers were already perfecting the US claim by occupying Oregon.

27. The United States Oregon Treaty with England (1846) drawing the boundary line in the Oregon country between Canada and the U.S. at the 49th parallel.

28. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848) in which Mexico ceded much of the American southwest to the U.S.  Contrast the property rights protections for Mexican citizens and Indians and tribal nations.

29. The 14th Amendment (1868). Indians were still not U.S. citizens.

30. The Dawes General Allotment Act (1887) that attempted to break up the Indian reservations.

31. The Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, 8 U.S.C. sec. 1401(b) (all Indians are made U.S. citizens).

32. Indian/U.S. treaties showing the establishment of reservations, tribal trade restrictions, and the protective status of tribes under the U.S. authority.

Hear Nightingale, Tennyson & Light Brigade bugler

The Charge of the Light Brigade was a famous debacle. It was a cavalry charge at the Battle of Balaklava (October 25th, 1854) in the Crimean War and it was a slaughter. The British cavalry, armed solely with sabres, was ordered — either through poor communication or officer arrogance or incompetence or a little bit of everything — to charge down a valley and attack Russian artillery batteries. The Russians had 20 infantry battalions, fifty large artillery pieces and they held the heights on both sides of the valley, so these poor Light Brigade guys had to race through a hail of cannon fire towards a hail of cannon fire wielding nothing but their swords. Out of the 673 cavalrymen, 118 died, 122 were wounded and 335 horses killed. Around 60 men were taken prisoner by the Russians. Only 195 complete one man-one horse pairs were left, which obviously completely disabled their function as a cavalry brigade.

Although it was a stupid waste of life and a military failure, it gave the British cavalry a huge boost of respect and popularity. Alfred, Lord Tennyson wrote a poem a few weeks after the battle which sealed their reputation for courage in the face of certain death. The Charge of the Light Brigade would become vernacular for the futile bravery.

Decades passed. In May of 1890, Secretary of State for War Edward Stanhope announced that the government would not grant any financial relief to the destitute survivors of the Charge of the Light Brigade because it wouldn’t be fair to single out one set of survivors, no matter how glorious their action, for benefits that no other veterans of their rank would receive. The cavalry charge down the valley of death, as Tennyson so memorably put it, was by then immortalized in the public imagination as the pinnacle of courage and valour, so the neglect of these heroes, now old, infirm and poor, caused a scandal.

In response, the St. James Gazette set up the Light Brigade Relief Fund so that the public could help support the veterans with their contributions and redeem “a national disgrace of the most odious description.” The campaign was supported by contemporary luminaries like Rudyard Kipling, who wrote The Last of the Light Brigade, a sort of sequel to the Charge in which survivors reproach Tennyson for not writing a follow-up that would reveal how the country they fought so valiantly for has abandoned them.

Also enlisted in the cause were three people closely associated with the Battle of Balaclava: Florence Nightingale, pioneering nurse who made her bones, so to speak, tending to the wounded during the Crimean War, Lord Tennyson himself, author of the poem that would ensure the immortality of the Charge of the Light Brigade, and Martin Leonard Lanfried, trumpeter of the 17th Lancers who sounded the actual charge. They would contribute with cutting edge technology: sound recordings of their voices that would be played at public events to raise money for the relief fund. This was the first Do They Know It’s Christmas ever made.

It was Colonel George Edward Gouraud, Civil War hero on the Union side, winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor for rallying the men under heavy enemy fire and Edison’s representative in England, who recorded the three on wax cylinders. He had personally contributed £1,500 (about £90,000 or $137,000 in today’s spending power) to the Light Brigade Relief Fund and then contributed his skills and Edison’s invention, which he had only introduced to England two years before, to the cause.

On May 15th, 1890, he recorded Alfred, Lord Tennyson reading The Charge of the Light Brigade. On July 30th, he recorded Florence Nightingale’s message to her “dear old comrades of Balaclava” at her home on 10 South Street, Park Lane, London. On August 2nd, he recorded Martin Lanfried sounding the charge on the very trumpet used at the battle. As if that wasn’t enough, the same bugle was also used at the Battle of Waterloo on June 18, 1815, and remained in use until the 17th Lancers were merged with other regiments to form the Queens Royal Lancers in 1993.

And now for the sounds of history. First is Alfred Tennyson reciting the first three stanzas of The Charge of the Light Brigade in stentorian declamation.


Next is Florence Nightingale, introduced by Mary Helen Ferguson who has one of those unfortunate talking doll voices I can’t quite understand but appears to be announcing the location and date of the recording. Florence speaks after her in far more pleasing tones saying: “When I am no longer even a memory, just a name, I hope my voice may perpetuate the great work of my life. God bless my dear old comrades of Balaclava and bring them safe to shore. Florence Nightingale.”


Finally here is Martin Lanfried, veteran of the Battle of Balaclava, who was wounded in the action and his horse killed underneath him, introducing himself and playing the charge.


Colonel Gouraud’s Edison Phonograph Company went through various iterations and wound up Edison Bell Ltd., J.E. Hough owner. The market for cylinders was dying, replaced by phonograph records, and by the early 1930s it went bankrupt. Its assets, including the historic 1890 Light Brigade cylinders, were purchased by Howard Flynn. Flynn actually tried to sell a record of the Florence Nightingale recording with all royalties going to the Red Cross and other hospital charities, but it was a flop. In 1935, he donated the Nightingale cylinder to the Wellcome Historical Medical Museum. It was transferred to the Wellcome Trust Library where it remained unnoticed until 2004 when Dr. Michael Clark dug it up and brought it to the British Library for restoration.

The Relief Fund successfully raised enough money to give grants to the neediest of the soldiers with £3,000 left over. The money was invested so it could help the greatest number of veterans, but in 1892 Parliament granted pensions to soldiers who had served 10 years or more so the rest of the fund money was distributed on a sliding scale.


American Masters Features Sister Rosetta Tharpe: The Godmother of Rock & Roll

Paul Harvey

I already know what you’re going to be doing Friday evening, February 22nd. Here’s what you’re going to be doing: at home, watching this “American Masters” documentary on the incomparable Sister Rosetta Tharpe. A little excerpt from the promotional material:

American Masters opens its 27th season with the story of African-American gospel singer and guitar virtuoso Sister Rosetta Tharpe (March 20, 1915 – October 9, 1973). One of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, Tharpe may not be a household name today, but the flamboyant superstar, with her spectacular playing on the newly electrified guitar, played a pivotal role in the creation of rock ’n’ roll. Emmy®-winning filmmaker Mick Csáky uncovers her life, music and lasting influence in American Masters Sister Rosetta Tharpe: The Godmother of Rock & Rollpremiering nationally Friday, February 22 at 9 pm (ET) on PBS (check local listings) in honor of Black History Month.
 Southern-born, Chicago-raised and New York-made, Sister Rosetta rose from poverty to become one of the world’s most popular gospel singers and the first to cross over successfully into mainstream popular music. She introduced the spiritual passion of gospel into the secular world of rock ’n’ roll, inspiring some of its greatest stars, including Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Little Richard. A natural-born performer and a rebel, “She could play the guitar like nobody else … nobody!” says Lottie Henry, a member of Tharpe’s back-up vocal group The Rosettes. “Elvis loved Rosetta Tharpe,” attests Gordon Stoker of The Jordanaires, who performed with both Sister Rosetta and Elvis. “Not only did he dig her guitar playing but he dug her singing too.”
The child of poor cotton pickers, Sister Rosetta was born in Cotton Plant, Ark. At the age of six, she was taken by her evangelist mother Katie Bell to Chicago to join the Church of God in Christ, where she developed her distinctive performing style. In 1938, at the age of 23, she briefly left the church for show business, causing huge controversy when she performed songs laden with sexual innuendo in New York City venues such as the famed Cotton Club and Café Society, where she immediately became a favorite of both Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington. However, Sister Rosetta soon returned to her gospel roots and performed in packed churches and theatres throughout America and Europe, becoming one of America’s most distinctive recording stars on radio and television during the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s.

Vintage postcards, the Michelin Man & fighting TB

It all started with an exhibition at the Boston Museum of Fine Art. I’ve mentioned before that I am an avid lover and collector of postcards, so whenever a museum puts on a show of vintage postcards, I go full obsessive and try to hunt down as many pictures of it as humanly possible. The Postcard Age at the MFA looks like a particularly great display of hundreds of carefully selected gems from the massive collection of Leonard A. Lauder, the billionaire chairman emeritus of Estée Lauder Companies, Inc., and son of legendary cosmetics entrepreneur Estée.

Lauder has been collecting postcards since he was six years old when he fell in love with an Art Deco postcard of the Empire State Building. It cost a penny. He spent his entire nickel allowance buying five of those postcards. Thus began a love affair that continues to this day. His collection of cubist masterpieces is worth hundreds of millions of dollars and known worldwide, but it was the humble postcard that made a collector out of him. His postcard collection today numbers around 125,000 pieces, and that’s after he donated 20,000 early 20th century Japanese postcards to the MFA some years ago.

He has pledged to donate another 100,000 to the museum. Out of that hundred thousand, Lauder and MFA curators Lynda Klich and Benjamin Weiss selected almost 700 postcards from the decades around the turn of the 20th century to put on display in The Postcard Age. This was the time when picture postcards, first sold in the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1869, became all the rage. By 1900, billions of postcards of advertising graphics, travel photographs, famous people, famous buildings, sports events, conventions, World’s Fairs, the latest technology, were sent all over the world. At a penny per stamp, they were cheaper than phone calls, fast and pretty. They were also purchased and kept in scrapbooks. In an era before cameras were readily available and easy to use, you could document your trip to exotic locales with postcards.

The postcard craze was such a huge thing that there are even postcards about postcards, some advertising postcards as a means to stay in touch with friends, others dedicated to the worldwide phenomenon of the postcard craze itself. You can see some of the highlights of the exhibit in this MFA slideshow and in this one on the Huffington Post. Imprint has some superb pictures from the exhibit accompanying this article about the exhibit that also includes a fascinating interview about the history of postcards with pop culture historian and graphic designer Jim Heimann. A book of the exhibition with many more pictures is available here.

One postcard in the slideshows particularly caught my eye. It’s a photograph of two enormous Michelin Men riding a horse-drawn cart through the streets of Houston, Texas, around 1904. The Michelin Man was just six years old in 1904. The idea of an anthropomorphic tire pile came to Edouard and André Michelin in 1894 and when in 1898 the French cartoonist Marius Rossillon, aka O’Galop, showed André an image he had drawn for a brewery of a Falstaffian figure toasting “Nunc est bibendum” (“Now is the time to drink,” a quote from one of Horace’s odes), Michelin suggested the figure be made to resemble a human tire pile. The first Michelin Man thus became known as Bibendum after the slogan. It’s that early character with his pince-nez glasses you see advertising Michelin tires in person in Houston.

His creation of one of the world’s most enduring and recognizable trademarks is what O’Galop is mostly known for today, but what I just found out while obsessing over that picture is that O’Galop was also a pioneer of film animation. Starting in 1910, he and biologist Dr. Jean Comandon, a pioneer in his own right of slow motion and microcinematography (filming through a microscope), worked together to create films on good hygiene and disease prevention. A disturbingly awesome example of their oeuvre is On Doit Le Dire, a 1918 short about the dangers of syphilis which combines animation, pictures of real people’s syphilis lesions and film of spirochetes under the microscope.

O’Galop also lent his animation talents to the Commission for the Prevention of Tuberculosis in France, an agency of the Rockefeller Foundation which worked closely with French national and regional governments and the Red Cross to reduce the rates of tuberculosis which had been driven sky-high by the deprivations of World War I. Precise mortality statistics are hard to come by during wartime, but we do know that 291,412 people died of tuberculosis between 1915 and 1918 in 77 of France’s 87 departments. The proportion of deaths was higher in occupied areas.

The Rockefeller Foundation had been involved in disease prevention, primarily the eradication of hookworm disease, for many years. In 1917, it created the Commission to combat the increase of tuberculosis in France. The Commission took a comprehensive approach to the fight against TB, starting with the collection of reliable statistics to define the extent and range of the problem, then establishing a system of anti-tuberculosis dispensaries, clinics all over the country with modern equipment and highly trained staff to treat tuberculosis cases. Each dispensary had a thoroughly equipped mobile dispensary that would bring a doctor and assistants to centrally located villages where all applicants would be tested, diagnosed and treated. It also trained of nurses who headquartered in the dispensaries and did house calls to test and treat. Because of their peripatetic duties, the nurses, all women, were called Visiteuses d’Hygiene (visiting hygiene ladies).

A public education campaign was the fourth prong of the Commission’s efforts. During the war, striking propaganda posters defined tuberculosis as an enemy to be battled just like Germany out of patriotism. There were also educational posters which used simple cartoons and drawings to explain how to prevent tuberculosis (sleep with windows open, no public spitting or sharing bottles) and if you have it, how to keep from spreading it (sleep alone, spit into containers and destroy the contents).

The education campaign also had a traveling component. The Mobile Tuberculosis Exhibit, a truck filled with pamphlets and posters that could be set up in a public space, 42 films and a projector, drove around the country to spread the word on stopping the spread of TB. Many of these exhibitions were targeted towards children for whom O’Galop’s animated films were a major draw. The were cartoons, but they certainly didn’t treat the subject gingerly.

They also didn’t just stick to TB. Medical opinion at the turn of century asserted that alcoholism, both acquired and hereditary, was a major cause of TB. Thus the fight against tuberculosis also required a fight against alcoholism — and not just alcoholism as we define it now; even one spiritous beverage a day was alcoholism for their purposes.

Hence the following triad of O’Galop films: Small Causes, Big Effects, Resisting Tuberculosis and The Alcohol Cycle. (You can watch a version subtitled in your choice of English, Italian, German and Spanish on the excellent Europa Film Treasures website.) Resisting Tuberculosis is my favorite. It starts at 1:50 and features some outstanding animated skeleton work.


What the Heck Barnes & Noble

I like books…see??…  This is about half of my book collection.  (BTW, if anyone knows of a good & inexpensive piece of book tracking software let me know.)

As I said I like books.  So when the missus told me she got a 15% coupon from Barnes & Noble, I decided that I would head over and pick up a copy of Earl J. Hess’ new book on the Knoxville Campaign.  And off to Barnes & Noble I went.  My first surprise was that it seems the local store has decimated their US History section.  Compared to what it once was it now seems tiny.  They have rearranged the section I guess hoping that customers wouldn’t notice, but the Civil War section was once 2 bookcases now it may be one if you are lucky.

Determined to use my 15% off coupon, I headed to the Customer Service desk to see if I could order it and still get the savings.  The woman was nice enough, ordered the book, and asked if I wanted it shipped to my home or the store – to have it sent to the store would cost $10 more she said!  Of course I said “home” and didn’t think much about the $10 at the time, what I WAS thinking was, “Gee, I could have ordered it off of Amazon if I had wanted it shipped to my house”.  I mean, the point of having a retail store is so that people can walk in and purchase books.

It wasn’t until later that I focused on the $10.  I mean, does it really cost that much to ship it to the store roughly 7 miles away?  And wouldn’t Barnes & Noble want me to cross the threshold of their doors anyway?  I mean, isn’t the point of advertising, sales, coupons, and so on to drive the customer to your store.  I might walk in looking for a copy of one thing and purchase several other items.  They seem to know about “impuse buying” based on the amount of garbage that they keep around the registers.  The intelligent thing to do would be to ENCOURAGE customers to enter the store to pick up their items, but then again the intelligent thing would be for them to actually have a decent stock of books (they do call themselves booksellers after all) instead of games, puzzles, and Legos.

Not sure of the wisdom of the business model, but Barnes & Noble seems to be more for browsing than for buying.

Guns taken from Bonnie & Clyde’s bodies for sale

Clyde Barrow's 1911 Colt .45Two Colt handguns that Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker were carrying when they were ambushed and killed in a hail of bullets on May 23, 1934 are coming up for auction in September. RR Auction in Amherst, New Hampshire has already opened Clyde’s Colt .45 1911 Government Model semi-automatic pistol and Bonnie’s Colt Detective Special .38 revolver to online bidders; the auction closes on Sunday September 30, 2012.

Bonnie Parker's 1933 Colt Detective Special .38Unlike the Winchester shotgun and the Thompson sub-machine gun confiscated from the Barrow gang’s Joplin hideout that were sold at auction earlier this year, these handguns are directly connected to Bonnie and Clyde, and not just directly connected but intimately so. Former Texas Ranger Frank Hamer, the leader of the six-man posse that hunted down and ambushed the infamous outlaws, retrieved Clyde’s Colt .45 from the waistband of his pants after he was felled in rural Bienville Parish, Louisiana.

With the Colt is a notarized letter from former Special Texas Ranger Frank Hamer, Jr., dated December 18, 1973 in which he states that this pistol, #164070, was removed from the “waistband of Clyde Barrow’s trousers the morning that he and Bonnie Parker were killed by my father in Louisiana.” He goes on to say “This pistol is also described and pictured in my father’s book I’m Frank Hamer. He also states that “this pistol was believed to have been stolen from the federal arsenal in Beaumont, Texas,” and that the federal government gave this Colt to his father. Although Clyde Barrow had many guns during his notorious career, there cannot be any with a closer association to him than this one carried at his death.

Bonnie’s Colt .38 is downright salacious. She kept it taped to her inner thigh which is where Hamer found it after she was killed.

A notarized letter from former Special Texas Ranger Frank Hamer, Jr., dated December 10, 1979, identifies this gun and states, “On the morning of May 23, 1934, when my father and the officers with him in Louisiana killed Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker. My father removed this gun from the inside thigh of Bonnie Parker where she had it taped with white, medical, adhesive tape. My father said that one reason she had the gun taped to the inside of her leg was that, in those days, no gentlemen officer would search a woman where she had it taped…Sometime later, my father gave this gun to Buster Davis who had been a Texas Ranger and was, at the time, an FBI Agent.” Included with this gun and mentioned in this letter is a framed handwritten note from Frank Hamer, written on the back of an old Texas Ranger Expense Account form, reads “Aug/1934 Davis hold onto this. Bonnie was ‘squatting’ on it. Frank.”

Texas Ranger Frank Hamer, early 1920sHamer got to keep both weapons as part of his compensation for hunting down Bonnie and Clyde. He had quit the Texas Rangers after 27 years on the force two years earlier and in 1934 was working private security for oil companies, mainly breaking strikes. Texas Department of Corrections Chief Lee Simmons commissioned Hamer to find the Barrow Gang, but he could only offer $180 a month. Hamer was making more than double that doing easier work for the oil companies. To sweeten the pot, Simmons allowed Hamer to keep all the guns recovered from the gang and whatever of their possessions he wanted, in addition to his sixth of the reward money (which turned out to be a meager $200.23).

The weapons are being sold by the estate of Robert E. Davis, a Texas collector who bought them from the Hamer family. The pre-sale estimate for each gun is between $100,000 and $200,000, but it’s highly unlikely they’ll go that cheap. The Winchester shotgun sold for $80,000, the Tommy Gun for $130,000. These pistols are in a whole other category of macabre collectability.

Footage of Bonnie and Clyde’s bullet-riddled car and bodies taken by posse member and Dallas County Deputy Sheriff Ted Hinton five minutes after the ambush.


Hatfields & McCoys debuts on the History Channel

Bill Paxton as Randolph McCoy with familyThe feud between the Hatfield and McCoy families of Appalachia has transcended its origins as a bloody multi-generational backcountry conflict to become a metaphor for all vendettas. Yet, despite its lexical fame and inherent drama, it has rarely been depicted on television outside of documentaries, cartoons (Bugs Bunny, The Flintstones and Scooby-Doo have all done versions) and a particularly awesome episode arc of Family Feud. Kevin Costner as Devil Anse HatfieldStarting Monday at 9:00 PM EST, the History Channel will step into that void with Hatfields & McCoys, a three-episode miniseries starring Kevin Costner as William Anderson “Devil Anse” Hatfield and Bill Paxton as Randolph “Ole Ran’l” McCoy.

I understand the show is basically faithful to the historical record, although of course it’s fictionalized to some degree. If you don’t want to read spoilers for something that happened 140 years ago, stop here. If you want to follow in the footsteps of these most notorious of feuders, check out the Pike County website which has a handy printable brochure (pdf) describing the key Hatfield-McCoy landmarks, as well as tips for other activities in the area, places to eat, hike, etc. They also have a companion CD to enhance your Hatfield-McCoy driving tour. Call Pike County Tourism at (800) 844-7453 or contact them via email to purchase a copy.

And now for the backstory.

The Hatfields and McCoys were early settlers of Tug Valley, an area on the border between Kentucky and what is now West Virginia. The Hatfields lived mainly on the West Virginia side in Mingo County, the McCoys on the Kentucky side in Pike County. During the Civil War, the Hatfields fought for the Confederacy while the McCoys sided with the Union. The trauma of the war underpinned much of the conflict between the two families.

Asa Harmon McCoyIn fact, the first to die at the hands of the other family was Asa Harmon McCoy, a Union soldier who returned home after breaking his leg. He was immediately threatened by a posse of ex-Confederate vigilantes headed by Devil Anse Hatfield who called themselves the “Logan Wildcats.” After he was shot at while drawing water from his well, Asa Harmon fled his home and hid in a cave. The Wildcats found him by following his slave Pete (yes, the Union soldier had a slave well after the Emancipation Proclamation) to the cave where they shot Asa dead on January 7, 1865.

Devil Anse HatfieldThe McCoys blamed Devil Anse, who as it happened was not among the killers that day because he was home sick. It was Devil Anse’s uncle Jim Vance who probably did the killing. Nobody was ever brought to trial. Much of the community, even many members of his own family, thought Asa had it coming for fighting for the Union, so no witnesses ever came forward and the case was never officially solved.

Randolph McCoyIt was 13 years before tensions erupted again; this time the central bone of contention was a pig. The McCoys said the pig belonged to them, but the Hatfields claimed that since it was found on their property, it was now theirs. Unlike the murder of Asa Harmon, the pressing matter of the pig was taken to court, or rather, to the home of the local Justice of the Peace, Anderson “Preacher Anse” Hatfield. Bill Staton, who was related to both feuding families, testified for the Hatfields and the Hatfield judge ruled in the Hatfields’ favor.

Two McCoy men took their revenge by killing Staton. They were acquitted of murder on the grounds of self-defense.

Roseanna McCoyThe next year came the Romeo and Juliet portion when Roseanna McCoy, daughter of Randolph, and Devil Anse’s son Johnson “Johnse” Hatfield fell in love. She squealed on her own family in order to save Johnse when they captured him. Despite that and despite the fact that she was pregnant with his child, Johnse married someone else, specifically, Roseanna’s cousin Nancy. The McCoys were less than pleased, and in 1882 Roseanna’s brothers Tolbert, Pharmer, and Bud killed Ellison Hatfield, Devil Anse’s younger brother.

The brothers were on their way to trial when Devil Anse captured them, waited until Ellison died of his wounds, and then killed all three of them in retribution. Sadly, that wasn’t even the peak of the violence. The culmination of this murderous madness came in 1888 with the New Year’s Night Massacre. The Hatfields, led by Uncle Jim Vance, surrounded Randolph McCoy’s home in the dark of night and shot up the cabin before setting it on fire. Randolph managed to escape, but two of his children were killed and his wife was beaten severely and left for dead.

The hanging of Ellison "Cottontop" MountsBy now the murders were making headline news all over the country. The governors of Kentucky and West Virginia were under pressure to stop the slaughter. Devil Anse’s brother Wall (played in the History Channel mini-series by Powers Boothe who was so chillingly brilliant as Cy Tolliver on Deadwood) and seven other Hatfields were arrested for one of the New Year’s Night Massacre killings. After legal vicissitudes that reached as high as the United States Supreme Court, all of the men were found guilty. Seven were condemned to life in prison. Ellison “Cottontop” Mounts was sentenced to hang from his neck until dead.

Although trials on various Hatfield-McCoy charges continued into the 20th century, the bloody murder sprees stopped after the hanging. Almost a hundred years passed before Hatfields and McCoys shook hands in 1976. That laid the groundwork for that awesome three-parter of Family Feud in 1979, and by 2000 the Hatfield and McCoy descendants were having joint family reunions. They officially signed a truce document in 2003, inspired to come together permanently by the events of September 11, 2001.


Lewis & Clark Law Review issue on international law and Indigenous Peoples

On April 15, 2011, Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland Oregon put on a day long symposium entitled

The Future of International Law in Indigenous Affairs: The Doctrine of Discovery, the United Nations, and the Organization of American States

Speakers from Canada and the United States discussed various aspects of this theme.

Lewis & Clark Law Review has now published the papers that came out of that conference.  In adddition, Maori and New Zealand professor Jacinta Ruru contributed a piece to the symposium issue.

Here is a short description of the articles and links to where you can download them.

Volume 15 / Number 4 / Winter 2011

The Future of International Law in Indigenous Affairs: The Doctrine of Discovery, the United Nations, and the Organization of American States


Robert J. Miller

15 Lewis & Clark L. Rev. 847 (2011)

The majority of the non-European world was colonized under an international law that is known as the Doctrine of Discovery. Under this legal principle, European countries claimed superior rights over Indigenous nations. When European explorers planted flags and religious symbols in the lands of native peoples, they were making legal claims of ownership and domination over the lands, assets, and peoples they had “discovered.” These claims were justified by racial, ethnocentric, and religious ideas of the alleged superiority of European Christians. This Article examines the application of Discovery by Spain, Portugal, and England in the settler societies of Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, New Zealand, and the United States. The comparative law analysis used in this Article demonstrates that these three colonizing countries applied the elements of the Doctrine in nearly identical ways against Indigenous peoples. Furthermore, the six settler societies analyzed here continue to apply this law today to restrict the human, property, and sovereign rights of Indigenous nations and peoples. This Article concludes that basic fairness and a restoration of the self-determination rights of Indigenous peoples mandates that these countries work to remove the vestiges of the Doctrine of Discovery from their modern day laws and policies.


Rebecca Tsosie

15 Lewis & Clark L. Rev. 923 (2011)

In September 2007, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Although the United States originally dissented, President Barack Obama reversed this position in 2010. The U.S. Department of State issued a formal statement of support in January 2011, maintaining that the Declaration is a non-binding statement of policy that comports with U.S. federal Indian law and policy. This Article evaluates the premise that the Declaration is consistent with U.S. law and policy by comparing the central principles of federal Indian law with the emerging norms of international human rights law that are reflected in the Declaration. The Article suggests that existing rights for Native peoples within the United States could be enhanced by applying human rights norms to the interpretation of Native rights, and posits that the Declaration also has broader implications for U.S. policy, particularly with reference to cultural rights and the rights of non-federally recognized indigenous groups. The Author concludes that there are areas of domestic law that could be reconfigured to better protect the core human rights of indigenous peoples within the borders of the United States.


Jacinta Ruru

15 Lewis & Clark L. Rev. 951 (2011)

In the South Pacific Ocean lie the lands my peoples come from—Aotearoa New Zealand. These mountains, rivers, valleys, and coastlines hold our stories and laws. These lands give us our life, identity, and knowledge. For the past two centuries, we have shared these lands with other peoples. As these peoples became more dominant in our lands, we have fought to retain all that is special to us. As their laws began to overlay our laws, we have not always won. But change is in the air. Their laws are becoming more respectful of us and our connections to our lands. A significant example of this occurred in 2010 when Aotearoa New Zealand finally endorsed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. But why was this country slow to commit to this Declaration? This Article posits that the Crown’s staunch position on assumed or asserted Crown ownership of lands and resources is evidence of a continuing Doctrine of Discovery mindset and explains this country’s reluctance to initially vote for this Declaration—a Declaration that seeks to recalibrate the foundations of colonial society in recognizing continuing Indigenous ownership of lands and resources.


Michael C. Blumm

15 Lewis & Clark L. Rev. 975 (2011)

The Supreme Court’s 1823 decision in Johnson v. M’Intosh is a foundation case in both Indian Law and American Property Law. But the case is one of the most misunderstood decisions in Anglo-American law. Often cited for the propositions of the plenary power of the U.S. Congress over Indian tribes and of the uncompensated takings of Indian- title lands, the Marshall Court decision actually is better interpreted to recognize that Indian tribes had fee simple absolute to their ancestral lands. This Article explains why the “discovery doctrine” should have been interpreted to be a fee simple absolute subject to the federal government’s right of preemption. Had the doctrine laid down by Johnson been properly interpreted, its national and international effects today would have been much less pernicious.


Blake A. Watson

15 Lewis & Clark L. Rev. 995 (2011)

On April 15, 2011, the Lewis & Clark Law Review hosted its Spring Symposium, entitled “The Future of International Law in Indigenous Affairs: The Doctrine of Discovery, the United Nations, and the Organization of American States.” While the Symposium participants agree that the doctrine of discovery should be rejected, they disagree on the impact of the discovery doctrine on native land rights in the United States. This Article examines the differing views of Indian title. Specifically, it contrasts the “limited owner” view of Indian title, under which Indian tribes retained nearly all of their proprietary rights, subject only to the government’s exclusive right of preemption, with the “limited possessor” view of Indian title, under which Indian tribes lost ownership of their lands by virtue of European discovery. The Article concludes that, although the “limited owner” view of Indian title is preferable to Indian nations, the Supreme Court has nonetheless adopted the “limited possessor” view. The Article further concludes that there is little downside to acknowledging that the Supreme Court has adopted the harsher “limited possessor” conception of Indian title, and that by doing so, opponents of the doctrine of discovery may be better positioned to secure its repudiation.

Lewis & Clark in the U.S. Supreme Court?

The Washington Post reported in November that the United States Supreme Court will have to decide what Lewis & Clark thought about three rivers in Montana to decide an upcoming case.

And the newspaper was correct.  Today, Feb, 22, the Court decided, using the Lewis & Clark journals, that the river was not navigable due to the Great Falls of the Missouri River and thus the state of Montana does not own the bed of the river and cannot tax PPL Montana for hydroeletric dams that it built upon parts of that river bed. http://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/10-218#writing-10-218_OPINION_3


Here was the way the Wahington Post described the case in Nov. 2011.

In PPL Montana v. Montana the Court will have to decide who owns the lands below the three rivers.  The case pits the state against a company that operates hydroelectric dams on the waterways.

Both sides claim that the 1805 journals of the Meriwether Lewis and William Clark expedition support their arguments.

Besides deciding questions of law, the justices will be called upon to act as historians and try to discern the navigability of the rivers at the time Montana became a state in 1889.  Their task begins with Lewis coming upon the Great Falls of the upper Missouri River in June 1805.

The Supreme Court determined years ago that states own the title to rivers that were navigable at the time of statehood. The question now is whether that ownership is different in segments of a river that might be impassable because of falls or other issues, or is determined by looking at whether the river as a whole is navigable.

The Montana Supreme Court decided the latter. Even though the land on which PPL Montana operated its dams was never treated as belonging to the state. Montana had never claimed it until private citizens acting on the state’s behalf sued in 2003.

It agreed that PPL owed back rent — $53 million and counting.

Twenty-six states are supporting Montana.

Both the state and the company say Lewis and Clark’s experiences make their case.

Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/lewis-and-clark-and-roberts-and-alito-montana-case-asks-court-to-interpret-1805-expedition/2011/11/26/gIQAT37r2N_story.html

“Whether there be a Distinction between such as are Slaves & those who are free?”

Although the Continental Congress decided not to order Gen. George Washington to discharge all black soldiers he found in the Continental Army when he arrived in Massachusetts in July 1775, that doesn’t meant that American governments were okay with the idea of African-Americans in arms.

In fact, on 8 July, less than a week after the new commander’s arrival, the Massachusetts Provincial Congress told officers recruiting new men: “You are not to enlist any deserter from the Ministerial Army, nor any stroller, negro, or vagabond, or person suspected of being an enemy to the liberty of America, nor any under eighteen years of age.” Gen. Horatio Gates, the army’s adjutant general, repeated those instructions in his orders a few days later.

On 5 October, Washington convened his generals in a council of war at his headquarters. He was trying to come up with recommendations to the Congress about the new army that would take the field in January since all the current soldiers had enlisted only till the end of the year or sooner.

Among the questions the generals discussed was: “Whether it will be adviseable to re-inlist any Negroes in the new Army—or whether there be a Distinction between such as are Slaves & those who are free?”

Sending off enslaved men to battle for other people’s liberty was foolhardy, everyone agreed, not to mention hypocritical. But what about free blacks? According to the official minutes of the meeting, the council “Agreed unanimously to reject all Slaves, & by a great Majority to reject Negroes altogether.” Most of the generals wanted to maintain the rules instituted in July. Only a small minority—maybe one to three men out of ten—were willing to accept any black soldiers.

A history student named Patrick Charles looked into this debate and published his findings in Washington’s Decision. And by “published,” I don’t mean he convinced a scholarly journal or press to publish his work. He published it himself through BookSurge.

The resulting paperback has grammatical and typographical errors and sometimes unclear language. But the research looks solid. Charles corrects some misconceptions about the topic, distinguishes facts from supposition, and offers a strong argument for his conclusions.

Among other things, he guesses that the minority in that October meeting included, or consisted of, Gen. John Thomas and Gen. Nathanael Greene. As quoted yesterday, Thomas said the black troops serving under him were as good as the whites. Greene later supported his cousin Christopher Greene’s effort to recruit African-American and Native American men into the First Rhode Island Regiment.

Whatever the generals said in their meeting, they decided against retaining any black soldiers. On 23 October, Washington met with three delegates visiting from the Congress and raised the question again: “Ought not Negroes to be excluded from the new Inlistment especially such as are Slaves—all were thought improper by the Council of Officers?” There’s no doubt about what answer he was pushing for.

Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Harrison, and Thomas Lynch, having sat through the previous month’s debate in Philadelphia, agreed that black soldiers should “be rejected altogether.” At the end of the month Gen. Washington issued recruiting orders for the new army specifically excluding “Negroes…, which the Congress do not incline to inlist again.”

That policy lasted for only two months.

TOMORROW: Gen. Washington changes his mind.

U.S. Departments of Justice & Interior Finalize Tribal Justice Plan

The U.S. Departments of Justice (DOJ) and Interior (DOI) have released the congressionally-mandated Long Term Plan to Build and Enhance Tribal Justice Systems, in accordance with sections 211, 241, and 244 of the Tribal Law and Order Act. DOJ and DOI were mandated by Congress to develop long-term plans to address incarceration in Indian Country and alternatives to incarceration.

You can access the official “Dear Tribal Leader” letter announcing the plan that was sent on Monday, August 8, 2011 and the Tribal Justice Plan at this web site.

National Congress of American Indians’ Tribal Law & Order Resource Center

You can read about the DOJ Bureau of Justice Assistance implementation of the Tribal Law and Order Act at this cite.

Space, Symbol, Dreams & Death in the Artist’s Studio

Continuing this series of posts on the artist’s studio with the most speculative one yet. A few themes are explored here; my favourite is the relationship between the painter’s creativity and dreams, a strand of my research.

The Mental Studio

“The studio is no more than a container, a kind of equipment, a room in which to paint or sculpt, a necessary space. In its isolation the artist watches a painting or sculpture, adjusts it, instinctively responsive to pigments, colours and materials, resolving their conflicts, bringing them together. In this way the studio is also an arena in which controlled yet instinctive and unpremeditated discovery unfolds. It is both a space apart and an essential arena for action.” [1]

The studio is also a space for thought as well as action: a place in which the mental processes of the artist can be sensed, especially if it is a studio taken over by another artist. However, usually, it is the haunt of one artist who has the opportunity to turn the space into anything he or she wants. It could be treated as a sleek, efficient machine with every component in its place; it could be a dirty, dishevelled eyesore with pots and implements left in chaos; it could be a threadbare, almost minimalistic space; it could be a studio that spills over into a voluminous library full of books and sculpture. The ways in which a studio can appear are infinite…

Studio Space and the Mind.

img669 We shall consider symbol later, but let’s remain with space, especially as related to metaphor. We might like think of the studio as the the brain of the artist. In this lithograph of M.C. Escher (1935) , we see the artist and his studio captured in a glass globe held by a hand, a juxtaposition that immediately invites associations between the operations of the hand and the eye, as the globe is an optical instrument. Both hand and eye are directed by the brain, and retaining the studio as brain simile, with Escher the impression is created of simultaneously looking into his brain whilst being physically separate from it. More adventurously, we could read Escher’s hand –eye coordination governed in terms of where his identity is in space. In the twentieth- century, scientific ideas might have influenced the way artists showed themselves in their studio. picasso_The_Studio_1927-1928_For example, Picasso did a series of images of the artist’s studio in which the painter and their model are treated in a very abstract way, as we shall see later on. It’s tempting to say that Picasso’s studio is in Einsteinian space rather than Cartesian space, with its mind/body dichotomy. As an example, compare Poussin’s Louvre Self-Portrait done in the age of Descartes to Picasso’s spatially fragmented studio.

Studio and Dreams.

img335 Connecting this metaphor of studio-as-brain with symbol, we could think of the objects within representations of the artist’s studio as thoughts, impressions or dreams, not yet realised in some kind of gestalt or ordered pattern, as in a composition. Once we start to think about this, it doesn’t seem so strange because the studio may be a place, not only of painting-making but also a place of fantasy and dreams. In a remarkable representation of his studio, the 19th century English painter of fantasy, John “Fairy” Fitzgerald, shows himself asleep in front of his easel. He is deep in a dream, probably hastened by artificial stimulants! His magical and artistic dream is cloudily presented as the artist – out of his body- painting a woman in white at an imaginary easel. Back in the real world, creatures from the artist’s dreams crouch around his sleeping form. One creature, painting at an easel that Fitzge0801velarald has abandoned, admires his alterations with the affected pose of a proud artist, thus connecting the real painting to the dreamed painting, whilst at the same time confusing them.[2] In this striking image, the association between dreams, hidden in the artist’s mind, and the reality of the studio is mediated via the easel. Usually, an easel at which an artist sits or stands, can be seen in some corner of the studio.  One of the most famous easels is the large one in Diego Velasquez’s Las Meninas (The Maids of Honour), which the artist stands beside. Velasquez has stepped back from his easel and his paint brush seems to be suspended mid way between himself and the canvas. Usually when an artist shows themselves at a distance from the canvas they are working on, (e.g. Rembrandt’s Boston Self-Portrait), it indicates the meditation and thought that accompanies mechanical execution. In Velasquez’s case, we are not certain whether he has stepped back to add a final touch to0804vela the work, or whether he has even begun it and is pondering on how he should start.[3] Returning to the studio and the life of the mind, we might try an experiment in which the canvas functions as a “screen” onto which the artist’s thoughts are projected: the initial marks of paint that Velasquez is about to make – or has made – on his canvas could be seen as the equivalent of painting’s dream thoughts metamorphosed, or ‘translated’ into visual images within the representational system exposed in Las Meninas.  There are problems with assuming that painting in its unformed and embryonic state mimics the operation of dreams which can’t be gone into here. However, Fitzgerald’s studio image suggests that the easel in the studio could be regarded as a studio prop that crosses over into the world of dreams, and the private space of the artist’s mind.

Symbolic Death and Literal Death in the Studio.  

9782253138082FS Fitzgerald’s painting shows the process of creativity in the studio, but in the nineteenth-century such glimpses into the private domain of the artist were forbidden. The best illustration of the mystique of the studio is told in a short story by Balzac: Le Chef-d’oeuvre (The Unknown Masterpiece), published in 1831. This story concerns an artist, Frenhofer, who is working on his masterpiece in his studio, safe from prying eyes. However, two other painters persuade Frenhofer to open up his studio and show the work that he is creating. Eager to see the work, and fully expecting to see a great painting, Frenhofer’s companions are utterly dismayed at the unveiled master work. Instead of a classically conceived figure, or at least a realistic image, their eyes fall upon a shapeless mass of colours and swirling lines. While this tale certainly deals with themes of creativity, representation and the mysterious space of the artist’s studio, it also concerns the relationship between painting and death, which from the renaissance onwards is symbolised by a skull in the studio. One of the other painters says, in an unguarded moment, that there is nothing on the canvas; the stricken Frenhofer commits suicide shortly afterwards. As Oskar Batschmann says, in order to paint, in order to create, img666Frenhofer needs to be isolated in the studio, susceptible to illusions, dreams and visions, such as we saw in Fitzgerald’s phantasmagoria.[4] However, once a public enters into the studio and utters uncomprehending remarks, that illusion is completely shattered. Opening up the studio to the eyes of others results in the paralysis of the artist followed by death.  Whilst living isolated in the studio, death present in props such as skull, is suspended, neutralized by the artist’s creative illusion. Opening up the studio door makes that symbolic death real. In some cases there is evidence to suggest that some artists of this era considered death as part of their studio. In 1872, the Swiss artist Arnold Bocklin painted a Self-portrait with Death Playing the Fiddle. The link between the art of painting and death is made explicit here: the artist holds palette and brush while staring out at the spectator; death seems to play the part of skeletal “muse” as the violin was a symbol of inspiration in the romantic period. Another work, a drawing by Louis Corinth (1922) has the artist, with shrunken body and bulbous head, holding a pen whilst mocked by a skull. The symbol of vanitas and anatomy, has transmogrified into the presence of death itself, a necessary part of the artist’s studio in the romantic period. Nineteenth-century art contains either cases of real artistic death (Gros, Haydon, von Rayski), death-in-the-studio mediated through art (von Rakski, Manet). img668 In a grisly drawing by Ferdinand van Rayski, we see the artist hung from his own easel in a studio that resembles a prison. These telling lines are written by a poet: “On the highway of true art// Life on earth is all too short// Seeds of death within him sprout/ All too soon the light is out.” The poet is represented by a portrait with a knife stuck in an eye, the whole of which- according to Batschmann- implies the legitimation of the artist by his own death.[5]


The Studio and the Pursuit of the Perfect Motif.

img664 Perhaps the ultimate message of Balzac’s story of the tragic artist Frenhofer is that art can only really live as an idea, which is lost when it is realized, given form and substance in the studio: a kind of death of the idea. This had occurred to Picasso since he had done a set of 13 illustrations to Balzac’s Le Chef-d’oeuvre inconnu in 1927, although he produced more in later years. And as Picasso said in an interview of 1935, the theme of Balzac’s story was the destruction of the motif, something which he considered part of his own painting practice. “In my case, a picture is a sum of destructions” and he went on to connect what Hans Belting calls the “metamorphosis of a picture” with discovering the path “followed by the brain in materializing a dream.” [6] This seems close to the examples in the studio suggested earlier in which the studio functions as a space for producing dreams, whose essence cannot be captured perfectly by the material canvas, the screen of representation. Picasso was aware that this pursuit of the perfect motif held implications for the struggle between abstraction and figurative art, present in the formative stages of modern art in the twentieth-century.  However, Picasso had no sympathy for the purveyors of abstract art which is why he shows an artist drawing abstract configurations on an easel whilst watched by a female model. The loops, whorls, and curlicues are Picasso’s way of representing what Balzac called “colours confusedly piled up and contained within a mass of bizarre lines lines which form a wall of painting.” The-Artist-in-His-Studio-Giclee Picasso is not trying to abstract the motif found in nature, but is mercilessly sending up the that style of art that seeks to find meaning in the inchoate or unrepresentable, although abstract expressionism was some time away. But Picasso may have another aim in mind here. For Picasso, representation is about “keeping the idea alive in the work”, and the process of “continual self-destruction” prevents the death of the idea. Indeed, as Hans Belting theorizes, the whole of Picasso’s oeuvre, or body of work, from his blue period up to such abstract representations of the studio as shown here “is to cover up an invisible masterpiece that can only exist as an idea”, or in the context explored here, as a symbol of the unattainable work of art in the studio.[7]

[1] John Milner, “Locating the Studio” in The Artist’s Studio, 65.

[2] For a discussion of this see Jeremy Maas and others, Victorian Fairy Painting, ex. cat., London, 1998, 114.

[3] See Hubert Damisch, The Origin of Perspective, trans. John Goodman, Cambridge Mass., London: MIT Press. 427.

[4] Oskar Bätschmann,The Artist in the Modern World: The Conflict Between Market and Self-Expression, 1997, 100.

[5] Bätschmann,The Artist in the Modern World, 100.

[6] See the discussion in Hans Belting, The Invisible Masterpiece, 206-7.

[7] The Invisible Masterpiece, 268.

The Artist’s Studio & the Market.

rosa sp1 Artists despite being under the spell of the muse, were under pressure to sell their art to make a living, unless they were economically self-sufficient. To use Bätschmann’s terminology, the artist was caught between self-expression and the market. However, Bätschmann looks mainly at the situation from the late eighteenth-century onwards, but perhaps the conflict first emerges in the previous century with the Italian artist Salvator Rosa. Rosa came from Naples, and because of the lack of interest in his art, he was obliged to remove to Rome, and after that, Florence. We may also encounter in Rosa the first independent artist determined not to sacrifice his artistic vision to the whims of patrons or the pressures of the market. The traditional view of Rosa is that he was contemptuous of the normal mechanisms of patronage, the court and the church, and sought to promote himself outside the normal spheres of artistic production and reception. This view holds that Rosa is the first really independent artist declaring defiance to patrons and organisations intent on controlling the output of Rosa’s studio. Recently another interpretation has been advanced: Rosa- for whatever reasons- felt himself severely marginalised and sought to present his work in the hope that it might catch the eye of patrons and buyers; he exhibited his art in places like the cloisters of San Giovanni Decollato, Rome, because he wanted to attract attention.[1] Whatever his motivations, Rosa did not make life easy for himself. Cursed with a fiery temper, he loathed working for commissions, hated the commercial side of painting, refused to name prices, and wanted freedom to create subjects congenial to him and not his patrons.[2] On one memorable occasion, he said that he let his pencil do the negotiating, a typical Rosa comment.

Painting Begging Of course all this could have been a pose: Rosa promoting the image of an independently-minded artist, uninterested in money, and painting intellectual subject matter, particularly philosophers who relinquished riches. But could these depictions of philosophers like Crates and Diogenes be seen as figures of classical wisdom, or indications of Rosa’s own attitude towards money and economics? We know that on one occasion Rosa did a drawing of Pittura (Painting) as a beggar out in the streets of Rome. It has been suggested that Painting as a Beggar might not express the subject of painters’ fees, but the ‘low status of painting in Rome’ as written in Rosa’s famous satire La Pittura probably dating from the early 1650s. Yet, the drawing might also be linked with a debate between Rosa and a Florentine servant in which philosophical poverty seems to dislodge economic necessity. In this exchange, the servant conjures up an image of Rosa the mendicant standing at the porch of one of the Holy Churches with his staff and poor box. Here, a link between begging and painting is made, and Rosa seems to be conveying much the same idea in the drawing, save instead of the staff and poor box, Pittura has the maulstick, brushes and palette. Salvator_Rosa_-_Allegorie_de_la_peinture Another drawing- in Geneva, shows Rosa’s customary satiric slant on the relationship between painting and riches. Inside the artist’s studio Pittura waves a flag at flies that are infesting Rosa’s canvases, a strange conceit symbolising the neglect of the artist’s work and his genius. Two putti representing aspects of the artist’s genius stand idle in front of brushes, perhaps suggesting the artist’s temporary cessation of painting at the lack of interest in his art. Rosa once said in response to the lack of commissions: “I might as well plant my brushes in the garden.” Later in England, a direct link would be made between the arts and the giving of alms, as in the title illustration to the catalogue of an exhibition of the Society of Great British Artists. Here a winged genius next to an easel hands out coins to a beggar watched by a woman and children signifying charity.[3]


img618 In his The Artist in the Modern World[4], Bätschmann discusses Joseph Anton Koch’s The Artist as Hercules at the Crossroads (1791). As the title suggests, this recalls the iconographical convention of showing the strongman at a junction where he can choose the direction of either Vice or Virtue, symbolised by two different female figures, one stern in mien, and one lax in disposition. In 1791- the time this drawing was done- Koch had escaped the Court College of Art in Stuttgart, and this singular image might be connected with that flight. The statuesque figure on the left represents Art-Virtue, and bears the legend “Imitatio’ which makes her a distant cousin of Pittura, who we last saw begging in the streets of 17th century Rome. The other figure, decked out in garish clothing, could not be further removed from the family of Pittura: she is ‘Art the Whore’ who disconcertingly binds Koch with a chain around his ankle. In addition to symbolising the affected manner of the court, this figure, with its grotesquery, mocks the kind of training that the artist received there. As Bätschmann observes, though this image can be located in 18th century debates about virtue, notably Lord Shaftesbury whose political ideas were linked with the iconography of Hercules at the Crossroads, it also concerns artistic freedom.[5] An artist is free to give up the rewards and riches at court; but the consequence of that is that he may find himself on the stony path of poverty. This was a brave move for Koch because he came from humble origins; he started life as a goatherd, and progressed to painting portraits of bishops, and eventually landscapes modelled on Poussin and Claude. img620 Many of Koch’s predecessors trod the safe road of court patronage which brought distinction and monetary success such as Titian whose paint brush was retrieved by no less than the Emperor Charles V himself, although there is no proof of this event. Assuming that Charles visited Titian’s studio, this would indicate painting appreciated by the powerful and influential, and of course wealthy. Although it may be unsafe to generalise, Koch’s rejection of all this courtly favour reflects the fiercely independent attitude of post-renaissance painters in Germany who exchanged the high wages- and associated arrogance- for humility, artistic integrity, and inevitably, poverty. According to Bätschmann, Koch started a trend of artists moving from state service and the academy to the stand-alone studio best exemplified by Asmus Jakob Carstens who stated that he “did not belong to the Berlin Academy, but to mankind.”


img622 Our third example is an American painter, from Boston, John Single Copley. As Copley’s parents were tradesmen, and women- his mother owned a tobacco shop- the idea of painting for money wouldn’t have been far from Copley’s mind. Copley’s training in Boston is a matter of speculation, but he seems to have been self-taught. Eventually Copley was to shake off his handicaps and raise himself through thrift, hard work and luck to the status of a full member of the Royal Academy in England, encouraged by its President, and another American history painter, Benjamin West. Copley submitted a number of paintings to the Royal Academy for exhibition, but he attained success with the monumental painting Watson and the Shark, representing a terrible accident in Havana in 1749-see below. This tour de force concerns Copley’s client Brook Watson who was business partner of Copley’s brother-in-law, Jonathan Clark. Watson lost a leg to the shark at the age of fourteen, but kept his life due to being rescued, the scene that Copley paints. Interestingly, we never get a real self-portrait from Copley, let alone a peep into his busy studio. img621 His grand portrait of himself with his Boston family throws little life on his methods and attitude towards art. Positioned at the rear of his relatives, the artist clutches a group of drawings, a reference to his artistic profession; he also is standing before the Medici Vase, maybe an allusion to connoisseurship and the Grand Tour. The artificial backlit landscape is typical of the numerous backdrops he would have used to paint fashionable portraits of the rich in society, and this kind of portrait would have found a place on the portrait market in the late eighteenth-century. This elegant group portrait can be compared with the only other self-portrait of Copley. Here, his personality retreats into himself while presenting the shiny surfaces of his art to the viewer. Had we been allowed to venture into Copley’s studio, we would probably have found ourselves surrounded by elegant furnishings admired by a finely dressed painter surveying precious objects obtained from overseas. Copley’s studio reflects his milieu- the world of money, shining social surfaces and colonial expansion.

Copley’s other main genre was history painting, particularly works commemorating current events like the defeat of French troops on St Helier, Jersey on the 22nd May, 1781. A gallant young British officer, Francis Pierson, less than twenty-four years of age, had resisted the French and eventually drove them out, though he lost his life in the battle. The painting shows portraits of officers of the 95th Regiment of the Jersey Militia in the fray, and a black servant of the fallen Pierson, revenging his death. This composition evolved from 17 preparatory drawings and an oil sketch, all united with the finished painting in 1996.[6] Although Copley’s The Death of Major Pierson of 1782-4 was an artistic success, it needed business acumen to make it financially rewarding. To achieve this Copley formed a partnership with John Boydell, dealer in engravings, who paid the painter £800 for the commission, and continuedimg623 to show the work in his own Cheapside shop after the official exhibition closed. Subscriptions would also be opened for prints of the painting, although the secretive Copley did not record his dealings with Boydell.[7] This sort of commercial activity would have been frowned down upon the Royal Academy and its founder Joshua Reynolds, who chose to ignore the fact that fame did not pay the rent. Things were not improved by the established view that painters were ‘mechanicals’ because they used their hands, and hence could never be intellectuals. This idea was opposed by a number of theorists who believed that painters were capable of intellectual discourse, and so theory became an integral part of art historical teaching, literally illustrated by Reynold’s allegory ‘Theoria’ on the ceiling of the Royal Academy. Copley was certainly in the thick of this debate and his letters speak occasionally of ‘improvement’ which has to be taken as both commercial as well as academic advancement. This is significant because Copley believed that art should refer to the subject of trade, however indirectly, an attitude completely at variance with the Royal Academy. Not that Copley had to worry on this score: he had married the wealthy Susanna Farnham Clark, and begun acquiring property on Beacon Hill, one of Boston’s wealthiest districts. Watsonandtheshark-original With his temporary exhibitions bankrolled by wealthy patrons like Boydell, he was assured a wealthy sideline outside the main exhibition system. John Singleton Copley had all the trappings of success; he dressed like a dandy, and was quietly amassing a fortune as a portraitist, while his Death of Major Pierson and Watson and the Shark marked him out as rising star in the artistic firmament of eighteenth-century Britain, despite the R.A.’s raised eyebrows at his method of promotion. In this case Pittura’s begging bowl was not required because the cupboard in the artist’s studio was full, business was booming and Pittura had turned into Profit.

[1] See Xavier F. Salomon’s “Ho Fatto Spiritar Roma”: Salvator Rosa and Seventeenth-Century Exhibitions in Salvator Rosa, ex cat, Dulwich, 2010, 74-99, 75.

[2] Xavier F. Salomon’s “Ho Fatto Spiritar Roma”, 75.

[3] Oskar Bätschmann, The Artist in the Modern World, Cologne, 1997, 24-5.

[4] Bätschmann, The Artist in the Modern World, 63.

[5] Paolo di Matteis’s version in the Ashmoleon was commissioned by Lord Shaftesbury in 1712.

[6] John Singleton Copley in England, ex. cat., Emily Ballew Neff and William L. Pressly, Washington and Houston, 1995.

[7] Bätschmann, The Artist in the Modern World, 34.

ACLU conference at Lewis & Clark law school addresses Indian criminal issues

Indian Country Today reported on the October 29 American Civil Liberties Union Northwest Civil Liberties conference at Lewis & Clark Law School.

The conference put on a two-hour panel entitled “Access to justice for Native American and Alaska Native Women.”

The speakers included Troy Eid, former U.S. attorney for Colorado, Barbara Creel, a citizen of the Pueblo of Jemez and associate professor at the University of New Mexico School of Law, Tawna Sanchez, Shoshone-Bannock, the director of Family Services at the Native American Youth Association, and David Voluck, an attorney and chief judge of the Sitka Tribe of Alaska.

Robert Miller, professor of law at Lewis & Clark Law School, a citizen of the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, moderated the panel.

Law & Order in Indian Country

The Green Bay Press Gazette writes today about criminal law issues in Indian Country and President Obama signing the Tribal Law and Order Act in July 2010.

The paper quoted some of the statistics the President recounted that led Congress to enact the law. “It is unconscionable that crime rates in Indian Country are more than twice the national average and up to 20 times the national average on some reservations,” Obama said in bolstering the case for the legislation. “And all of you believe, like I do, that when one in three Native American women will be raped in their lifetimes, that is an assault on our national conscience; it is an affront to our shared humanity; it is something that we cannot allow to continue.”

These facts reflect the harsh reality that faces many of the 565+ tribes and Alaska Native communities across the country

The federal government also reports many other statistics that further demonstrate the issues facing Indian Country and tribal governments and communities. For example, American Indians lead the nation in suicides among youth aged 15 to 24.

Injuries and violence account for 75% of all deaths among Native Americans ages 1 to 19. Native American women suffer from violent crimes at a rate 3½ times greater than the national average.

International law conference at Lewis & Clark Law School

Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland Oregon is holding a conference on April 15, 2011 entitled – The Future of International Law in Indigenous Affairs: The Doctrine of Discovery, the United Nations, and the Organization of American States.

Here’s a link to the conference internet home page. It will be updated as information about registration and other matters becomes available.


Confirmed speakers:

Professor Jacinta Ruru (NZ)
Professor Tracey Lindbergh (Can)
Professor Maria Campbell (Can)
Professor Val Napoleon (Can)
Professor Sarah Morales (Can)
Professor Lindsay Robertson (US)
Professor Rebecca Tsosie (US)
Tim Coulter (US -Indian Law Resource Center)
Professor Dinah Shelton (US) and OAS Commissioner
Professor George Foster (US)
Professor Bob Miller (US)

and maybe Professor Larissa Behrendt (Australia)

Papal Majesty at the V & A: Raphael’s Cartoons and Vatican Tapestries.

I've recently been down in London attending exhibitions and symposia.


One exhibition that I was determined to see was the Raphael show at the V&A which unites the artist's gouache cartoons with four of the tapestries from the Vatican. Commissioned by the Medici pope, Leo X, the cartoons were used by Flemish weavers to create the tapestries, probably for both acoustical and propaganda purposes in the Sistine Chapel. The tapestries were first displayed in the Sistine Chapel in 1519, and there have been subsequent reconstructions in later years, notably 1983. The current unification of cartoons and tapestries is bathed in modern papal splendor since Pope Benedict XVI has granted their temporary removal from the Vatican for this spectacle.


The thing that struck me about this exhibition was the different media on show. Not only do you get to see the famous Raphael cartoons- hanging in their usual place in the cavernous room allocated for their display in the V & A- but you see four large tapestries, a batch of drawings for the commission from the Louvre and Windsor, the diary of Pope Leo X's master of ceremonies, Paris de Grassis, as well as a beautifully illustrated choir book owned by Leo, a serious connoisseur of music. Last and perhaps least, the exhibition has a model of the Sistine Chapel open to the viewer. Although they've baulked at recreating in miniature the paintings of the chapel, they have reproduced the rood screen and the cosmati paving on the floor of the model. It's a weird feeling to see the Sistine without the glory of its painting though, even if it is a scaled down model.

Mention should also be made of the detached tapestry borders; these contain Medici motifs such as the famous pala, or medicine pills signifying members of the family, putti or little children, and figures symbolizing the hours and the seasons. It's a rare pleasure to see this combination of aesthetic abandonment and iconographic complexity.


It remains to be seen what exposure the exhibition will get when the Pope flies in on the 16th of September, but judging by the crowds in the V&A, the public are lapping it up. About six weeks ago, I saw the public's thirst for art in the British Museum where visitors enjoyed a treasure house of renaissance old master drawings. There's that eagerness here as visitors pour over selected drawings by Raphael's pupils such as Penni, Ugo di Carpi and Giovanni di Udine, as well as the master himself, which they are now able to compare directly with the cartoons, presiding high above them on the walls.

There's a handy, inexpensive catalogue that goes with the exhibition. With essays by the director of the V&A, Mark Evans and others, it's a great souvenir with nearly everything in the exhibition illustrated. Being a Raphael nut I had to buy it- yet another volume on my bowing Raphael shelf.

Finally, here's a link to a film and transcript featuring Mark Evans, Arnold Nesselrath (Vatican) and Martin Clayton (Windsor Castle). And there's also a Raphael study day on the 15th October.


Christ's Charge to Peter, Vatican Tapestry, 1519.

Workshop of Petrus Alamire, choir book, Vatican

Raphael, study for Christ's Charge to Peter, Louvre, about 1515.