Browsed by
Category: History and Historians

One Ring to Rule Them All: Roanoke and that Signet Ring

One Ring to Rule Them All: Roanoke and that Signet Ring

Recently Smithsonian Magazine published a piece by Andrew Lawler on the signet ring found on Hatteras Island by archaeologist David Sutton Phelps. Phelps, who taught at East Carolina University, died in 2009. As Lawler correctly points out, The 1998 discovery electrified archaeologists and historians. The artifact seemed a rare remnant of the first English attempt to settle the New World that might also shed light on what happened to 115 men, women, and children who settled the coast, only to…

Read More Read More

We Are Teachers

We Are Teachers

Many years ago I served on a search committee for a position in the history of American Foreign Policy. For many reasons it was an odd search, and we ultimately did not succeed in hiring anyone for the opening.  We interviewed one candidate over the phone, with an exceptional record of publication, and a strong, Ivy League academic pedigree. He was doing a post-doc at some thinktank somewhere and, when asked about teaching said that, yes, he did enjoy it,…

Read More Read More

Creative Destruction: Or, Let’s Bash Some Monuments

Creative Destruction: Or, Let’s Bash Some Monuments

It’s what we do, at least metaphorically. For historians, the destruction of monuments can be a good thing, a visceral and often-times important act of revision. It is an opportunity to replace dated and damaging interpretations of the past with more complicated, nuanced, and correct stories. We do not necessarily need to destroy Confederate statues to do this, but certainly we can reinterpret them, knock them down a few pegs, and re-write the stories that these racist monuments to white supremacy…

Read More Read More

On Charlottesville, and Our National Character

On Charlottesville, and Our National Character

In what ways does the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville matter? In the past two weeks I have listened to the Attorney General of the United States announce his determination to investigate discrimination on college campuses against…..wait for it….white people.  This move was endorsed by a President who has called Mexicans “rapists” and “animals,” and who has in as many words endorsed police brutality against African Americans and other people of color.  A sheriff’s deputy in Oklahoma, meanwhile, who gunned…

Read More Read More

Some Thoughts on the Declaration, and Why I Don’t Celebrate Much on Independence Day

Some Thoughts on the Declaration, and Why I Don’t Celebrate Much on Independence Day

The other day I appeared on “Connections,” a news radio show which airs on WXXI in Rochester, New York, an NPR-affiliate.  I participated in a panel discussion about how the Declaration of Independence is taught in classrooms and how much Americans know about this important document. The precipitating event that spurred this discussion was the decision by NPR to tweet out on Independence Day the entire Declaration, 140 characters at a time.  Some of NPR’s Twitter followers applauded this decision,…

Read More Read More

What You Need To Read

What You Need To Read

I will post each quarter a list of items I have placed on my “To Get To” list, scholarship I will consider as I work to keep current in this vast field and begin to contemplate a third edition of Native America.   If there is something I have missed, or a work you would like me to add to the list, please feel free to drop me a line. For the March bibliography, click here. Abram Kercsmar, Joshua. “Wolves at…

Read More Read More

Intellectual Courage

Intellectual Courage

I gave the following keynote address to the annual meeting of NYSACAC, the New York state organization for high school and college admissions counselors, which took place at SUNY-Geneseo earlier this month. In some ways, it encapsulates what I tell my students each semester on the first day of class in my Humanities class.   I am delighted to be here, and to join those who have welcomed you here to our beautiful campus.  Geneseo, as a place, shows up…

Read More Read More

Remembering the Boarding and Residential Schools–Gord Downie’s “The Secret Path”

Remembering the Boarding and Residential Schools–Gord Downie’s “The Secret Path”

One of my very good former students told me about “The Secret Path,” a multimedia project produced by Gord Downie, the lead singer of the Canadian rock band The Tragically Hip in the fall of 2016.  An animated film, a musical album, a graphic novel, The Secret Path tells the story of Chanie Wenjack.  Twelve years old when he fled from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School, Chanie wanted to return to his family at Ogoki Post, four hundred miles…

Read More Read More

On The Way of the Human Being

On The Way of the Human Being

Yesterday one of my very good students told me that he was driving through New York’s Finger Lakes region, not all that far from my campus.  He was enjoying a nice spring day, noticing the signs remaining from the heyday of the Anti-Indian group Upstate Citizens For Equality, and listening to one of the blowhards on right-wing radio.  Slim pickings, sometimes, in the Finger Lakes.  Whoever it was that he listened to argued that Native Americans need to move on…

Read More Read More

Hey, Teacher, Leave Those Kids Alone!

Hey, Teacher, Leave Those Kids Alone!

We’ve come to that point in the semester where I begin to see on Twitter and on Facebook and elsewhere “bloopers,” students’ answers to questions on their midterms or finals that are so wrong that their professors or teachers find them funny. I would urge you to think twice before you post things like this, for those student bloopers may reflect more poorly on you as a teacher than it does upon the young people enrolled in your courses. When…

Read More Read More

css.php