February 21 - Cherokee Phoenix Rises - for the first time!

Posted on February 21, 2019

Today is the anniversary of the first issue of the Cherokee Phoenix - the first newspaper published by Native Americans in the U.S. and also the first published in a Native American language.

It was published on this date in 1828 in New Echota (which is located in present-day Georgia). Although the newspaper only published for six years, it was revived in the late 1900s and continues to this day! 

I immediately wondered about the choice of the phoenix for the newspaper's name. That mythological bird is famous for, after a long life, dying in a burst of flames and then rising up again from its own ashes. In other words, the phoenix is a symbol for rebirth, resurrection, and even perseverance. 

Apparently, editor Elias Boudinot (aka Gallegina Uwati, or ᎦᎴᎩᎾ ᎤᏩᏘ], a mixed-race Cherokee leader) chose to use the phoenix in the newspaper's name as a symbol of renewal for the Cherokee. 

Not only did the newspaper feature articles in both English and in Cherokee, it used the Cherokee syllabary developed in 1821 by Sequoyah. 

I found it interesting that those who could read only Cherokee received the newspaper for free; those who could read English paid from $2.50/year to $3.50/year, depending on if they paid in advance or not.

At the time that the newspaper began publication, the U.S. government was edging toward removing the Cherokee from their lands and relocating them farther west. This was gaining a lot of notice, and the newspaper arranged a publicity tour to try to gain sympathizers who were not themselves Cherokee. Sure enough, people subscribed from all over the United States and even Europe; in order to reach them, Boudinot started publishing mostly in  English.

The Cherokee people were divided in their opinions about whether or not to sign a treaty with the U.S. They were divided in their opinion on the wisdom of acculturating to (that is, learning the language and ways of) European-heritage Americans. They were divided in what the goal of the Cherokee Phoenix was and should be.

Cherokee people (and other Native peoples) had to
work hard to keep alive their traditions and language.

Out of all that disagreement, Boudinot ended up quitting his position, and newspaper was then edited by a Cherokee with opposite political views. However, soon after that, the federal government stopped paying the Cherokee what they were due (according to agreements), and the newspaper stopped publishing altogether; the state government piled on by sending militiamen to seize the printing press.

The Cherokee Phoenix only published off-and-on (I gather mostly "off") after the Cherokees were forcibly relocated to "Indian Territory" in Oklahoma. (This is one part of the horrific Trail of Tears.) 

But since the late 1900s, the Cherokee Phoenix has been published monthly by the Cherokee Nation. It available on the internet, on iPhone, and in print.

Also, the old newspaper is digitized and searchable through the University of Georgia libraries. 

I found it interesting that the Cherokee syllabary type was found in the old New Echota print shop; in 2013 two artists used it in a project. It was the first time it had been used in 178 years!


February 20 - World Day of Social Justice

Posted on February 20, 2019

You know what? EVERY day should be Social Justice Day.

But it's also good to have a yearly event when we especially focus on something that should be part of every society all the time. We can use the focus to ask questions like "How are we doing?" and "How can we do better?"

This particular holiday is part of the United Nation's work to make the world a better place, together.

Social justice is defined as the fair distribution of wealth, of opportunities, of privileges.

There are a few things we tend to focus on these days:

Breaking down barriers
  • If some people in society (poor people, for example) cannot get higher eduction, that's a Social Justice problem.
  • If some people (gay people, for example) cannot marry the person they love, that's a SJ problem.
  • If some people (women, for example) don't get promoted in accordance with their experience and capability, that's a SJ problem.

The creation of safety nets
  • All of us are going to get sick at some point.
  • Those of us lucky enough to live long enough will become elderly; some jobs that are fine for strong 30 year olds are not okay for 75 year olds.
  • Some of us will face some sort of natural disaster at some point.
  • Some of us will, through no fault of our own, face loss of a job or will need to do unpaid work taking care of a loved one.
  • Taking care of society members running into these sorts of problems is a Social Justice issue. 
"Into all lives some storms will come," people say.
Are our "safety net" programs protective enough?

I believe that, in the U.S., we went from "good, but not good enough"
(above) to "way, way, way worse" (below).

Economic justice
  • Banking laws are meant to keep our economic system stable and to protect people against those who would cheat them or speculate with their money.
  • Tax codes are meant to provide for the common good in a way that is fair to everyone.
  • But rich people are able to do shenanigans that make them richer - finding loopholes, coming right up to the edge of the illegal while knowing that they have top lawyers if things go wrong, paying lobbyists to lean on legislators to jigger the laws or make exceptions to the laws, creating shell corporations that will hide money, even paying off people to look the other way. 
  • It is a part of Social Justice to hold rich people accountable to systems and laws so that they pay their fair share of taxes and follow the laws that apply to the rest of us.

February 19 - They Mailed Their Kid!!!

Posted on February 19, 2019

Charlotte May Pierstorff has a Wikipedia article that none of us would want: 

Her parents mailed her to her grandparents - by parcel post!!

You know how some new services become instant hits? Well, when the U.S. Postal Service introduced Parcel Post Service on the first day of 1913, it became immediately popular. Soon the collect-on-delivery service was added, and the maximum weight rose up to 50 pounds (22.6 kg).

Box manufacturers became WAY busier and richer. It wasn't long before they had invented a variety of new sorts of packaging, designing specialty containers for everything from eggs to baked goods.
(That first year of Parcel Post Service, just after midnight, six eggs were mailed from St. Louis, MI, to a town in Illinois. By 7:00 p.m. the same day, the eggs came back to St. Louis - but in the form of a freshly baked cake!!)

A few people misused the  Parcel Post - or, rather, used the service in ways that were never intended. And so a few laws and limitations had to be created so that these sorts of abuses never happened again. Here are two examples:

He mailed a building!

A man named W. H. Coltharp was supposed to build a bank in a town in Utah, and he discovered that the Parcel Post was a way less expensive way of getting bricks from a company more than 125 miles away than was shipping them by wagon. So he had the bricks shipped in 50-pound packages (that was the weight limit) - but LOTS of packages! He had the brick company ship 40 packages at a time (2,000 pounds - or a ton), and of course this overwhelmed the Parcel Post Service.

This is the bank that was built from the bricks
sent through Parcel Post.
So a limit was written into the law; no more than 200 pounds of total weight would be allowed per day between any two parties.

Someone at the U.S. Postal Service stated that it wasn't their intent that buildings be shipped through the mail!

They mailed their kid!

And at last we come to little Charlotte May, age 4 or 5.

Her parents lived in one town in Idaho, and her grandparents lived in another Idaho town about 70 miles away. Apparently the parents wanted to send their little girl to her grandparents for a visit, but the train ticket was awfully expensive.

Then they realized that there were no rules against sending her via Parcel Post! 

She even weighed just under the 50 pound limit, so....

Now, I was horrified, because I was picturing them putting their child into a box with air holes! The truth is a ton less terrible: the parents pinned 53 cents worth of postage stamps onto her coat and dropped her off with a postal worker in their town; she traveled on the train in the mail compartment, but her mother's cousin worked for the railway mail service and was with her; and she was delivered to her grandparents' house by a postal clerk from that town.

There were a few other cases of children mailed in the U.S., apparently, but soon there was a new law: no humans can be sent by Parcel Post or any U.S. Postal Service!!

February 18 – Dialect Day on the Amami Islands of Japan

Posted on February 18, 2019

I found this holiday mentioned on a list - but I always check multiple sources, and it was impossible to confirm. However, I so much enjoyed learning about Japan's not-so-major islands, I decided to write about the supposed holiday anyway.

You probably already know that Japan is made up of four large islands - but did you know that the nation is made up of more than 6,800 islands altogether?

I read that 430 of the Japanese islands are inhabited.

And eight of the inhabited islands make up the Amami Islands. They are located south of the four main Japanese islands. 

Some of the Amami Islands formed from ancient coral reefs, and others were created by volcanic activity but are still surrounded by coral reefs.

Because the Amami people were separated by ocean from those who lived on the main islands of Japan, the Amami language is different enough from standard Japanese that someone who speaks only Japanese finds pretty much impossible to understand Amami, and vice versa.

Only there is no "vice versa," because everyone on the Amami Islands speaks Japanese, thanks to schooling in that language. 

Apparently most people on the Amami Islands speak a dialect of Japanese that is basically Japanese standard with an Amami accent and a sprinkling of Amami words and phrases. 

The various Japonic languages (other than standard Japanese) are considered endangered because children are not learning them as their first language (or "mother tongue."). I wonder if Amami will die out, except for the words that made their way into the Amami dialect of standard Japanese?

Anyway, here are some photos of the Amami Islands:

Luminescent mushrooms on Amami.

Also on this date:

National Hate Florida Day