Reflection: Metacom and King Phillip
I loved the story about this author’s grandson and daughter. She explains the many stereotypes that we have been discussing in class. The stereotypes of the Native American teepee and headdress are just some of the many included in this Metacom essay. Her grandson came home with a teepee and she had to explain to him what their ancestors lived in. When her grandson came out with a headband on with a feather coming out of it, she was mortified and her daughter knew that she was. It is understandable because schools are teaching children all the wrong stereotypes of Native Americans. It was then that she realized that school was the only place her grandchildren were learning about Native American Heritage, so they didn’t know any better to correct their teachers. Also, the image of King Phillip is discussed throughout this essay. In colonists’ writing, Philips body is likened to some kind of animal and is constructed to represent all Indian people as treacherous.
In the beginning of the Long Shadow essay, we read about the proper name to call a Wampanoag chieftain, a Metacom. King Philip was the English name given to him. The essay also begins to discuss how King Philip is not often remembered in a positive light. Puritan writing scorned him, along with many other writings. But despite was most people think or read about, King Philip lived his life in a very peaceful manner. Most of the information presented and taught about King Philip is not very accurate and again, this is where we create stereotypes and misinformed information.
I think the two readings provided for this topic begin an interesting discussion about the early interactions between the European settlers and Native peoples. Specifically, I think they highlight New England’s role in the story, and how the events which transpired so long ago in our history shaped the way in which the United States formed. As always, it is very helpful to read about the historical intricacies of the past. It is especially helpful given this topic under examination, as historical information provides a backdrop to place our understanding of important events, people, and concepts. It shapes understanding, and allows the immensity of history to become slightly more digestible.
What I find most interesting about these pieces is how they delve deeper into the relationship between Native peoples and colonists. We often get the vague, generalized version of this moment in history which essentially amounts to “The British pilgrims showed up in New England, and then everything went bad from there onward”. But there is so much more to that story, and I think these pieces both demonstrate the incredible, and, unfortunately, tragic elements that compose this story. The British, upon arriving to their “New World”, were supported by the Natives during their first winter in America. It’s strange to consider what that small window of time was like, as the British first arrived and existed in a somewhat neutral balance with the Natives. The events that followed, however—the Natives realizing what was really happening to them, the murder of John Sassamon, Metacom’s struggle to retain his people’s freedom, the paranoia, the massacres which would later take place—all of it seems to be perfectly sequenced for tragedy. Perhaps there isn't a single country in the world that hasn't been built upon human suffering and injustice, but when I examine the details surrounding America’s genesis, there is an undeniable sense of misfortune, and I think that until we learn to accept this openly, there will always be that creeping sense of loss and calamity.
The two readings assigned for this upcoming week provide historical information about the life of the Wampanoag Sachem Metacom (also known as King Philip). The history of Metacom’s life in American culture is widely known due to his involvement in the seventeenth century war against English settlers. Being involved in a war that left many Native Americans and English settlers dead, Metacom was not always viewed favorably in accounts of American history (written, of course, from the perspective of the white settlers). Joyce Rain Anderson and Glenn W. Lafantasie attempt to pick apart depictions of Metacom in American writing and artwork, to discover the truth behind the life and death of this legendary sachem, and to see how American conceptualizations of Native American peoples as a whole have been shaped by visual and written arts over the course of time.
Anderson picks apart displays of visual art in Metacom(ic) Moments, to comment on the way his image had been contorted and manipulated throughout the ages in an accordance with American perspectives of native peoples. In early paintings, for example, Anderson points out the short stature, inhuman features, awkward posture, and animalistic appearance given to Metacom. Portraits can recreate and distort a person’s image in ways photographs cannot, so by viewing unflattering portrayals of Metacom in art, it is easy to imagine how the American settlers must have viewed natives as a savage, barbaric race, just begging for culture and white influence to “save them.” As Anderson points out, the earliest paintings which portray contact between European explorers and Native Americans make it seem as though the native was sleeping, docile, just waiting to be awoken by European civilization, clothing, and superiority.
One can practically trace the entire historical relationship between Native Americans and European settlers through artwork. As times changed in the nineteenth century, for example, and Americans began to debate whether or not Indian removal is necessary or moral, depictions of Metacom and other native peoples began to change. Metacom became a figure of power, portrayed in artwork and some literature as a tall, muscular, self-confident “noble savage.” Not all was for the best. As Anderson points out, in the nineteenth century, Metamora, a stage drama, depicted Native Americans as dedicated to American values (inaccurately, in many ways), while still acting and appearing as brutish beasts. Some critics of Metamora, according to Anderson, did not even know the people on stage playing Indians were not actually indigenous peoples. It just goes to show how difficult it is for Americans, even nowadays, to differentiate between the American idealized image of a Native American, and the actual appearance of a native person. Personally, whether to demean or empower Metacom, I find it upsetting that art manipulated his image at all. Because of all the white American desire to twist the image of Metacom to suit their own personal views, I will never know what Metacom actually looked like while he was alive, and for me that is upsetting.
After reading Metacom(ic) Moments: Written and Visual Representations of King Philip, I realized that it is a common theme in murals and paintings of Native peoples attacking white settlers that are still hanging in public places for the public to view. You would think that after so many years of stereotypes and racism that those places would take them down. But, nope they continue to keep them up because they are “a piece of art”. It is actually a disgrace and if that is a piece of art in their opinion then those people shouldn’t be able to voice their opinions. Obviously, this has been an ongoing argument about Native people and the misrepresentation that society views as and if sport teams are changing their names because it portrays negative connotations then clearly these “pieces of art” should not be allowed up since it portrays the Natives in such a horrible way. It seems like just because the early New England settlers viewed the Native people as “cannibals that are capable of barbarous institutions or customs” then that means they were right and we should all believe them. They viewed them this way because they wanted their land and by making the Natives look bad then people wouldn’t think it was that bad that they stole their land because of how bad the Native peoples were. The white settlers made it look like that the Indigenous people needed them and their help so they could live a better life. They not only wanted their people to believe that but they also wanted the Natives to believe that without the help of the white people they wouldn’t be able to live. The settlers had so much power over them and because of the money, materials, food, shelter etc. the Natives began to believe that they needed them, even though before the settlers came to their land they were living just fine and had good lives. The white people took over and ruined lives for the Native people, they didn’t help them at all. If anything they helped killing their culture and identity. The fact that the English made Pometacom change his name to the English name Philip is wrong. They were trying to strip away every part of their culture’s identity they had left so that there would be nothing left at all. Just like it was mentioned in the article, “early writings and drawings by explorers and colonist contribute to the historical and psychological trauma for Native people, the ongoing genocide of Native people”.
Both Metacom(ic) Moments: Written and Visual Representations of King Philip and The Long Shadow of King Philip have a lot to say about Metacom, his Native name, or King Philip, his English name. Just like I talked about above how visuals and words have misrepresented Native peoples from when the white settlers stole their land all the way up until today. Another part of Native culture that has been dragged through the mud was the Native American Metacom or King Philip. When I think of King Philip I remember learning how he was a horrible person that burned people and their homes and wanted to start a war between the Native people and the Europeans. Come to find out, like most of the things that I have learned about Indigenous people, is that there was a lot more that played into why King Philip did what he did. Even though the white people want everyone to think that they are good people and protect their people and their land, in the end that is what they do but they would do it at any means necessary. So because King Philip would not side with the whites and do what they say they grew angry and had to make sure that he would never disrespect them again, which led to killing him. He was a hero and stood by his people no matter what and with that he entered a war and lost his life. He died knowing that he did the right thing instead of living and lowering himself and his people by acknowledging his white enemies. He was a brave and courageous Native and made his people proud.
Reading about King Phillip, or Metacom, was intriguing for me because I have always had a fascination with war for various reasons. It seemed to me that King Phillip went to war out of sheer desperation considering he had exhausted every other route to saving his tribe. I wonder if he had started his campaign earlier when his tribe was stronger, better armed and held more land if he would have won. I also wonder if sympathizers for Metacom today over state how close he was to winning his war against the whites. Though I suppose it is possible to win even with such odds as history has shown such as when Ethiopia and Italy went to war or perhaps the Spartans and Persians as well. A small part of me wishes we had lost that war. Perhaps two nations would have been born instead of just one, each with a better understanding for the other. Or perhaps we are better off on our own considering our relationship with many countries even today are rather tumultuous. It was also nice to hear more about King Phillip as a person rather than just the war he fought in. I wasn’t aware of how exactly his brother Alexander died or that they had ruled together before his death. The animosity between the whites and the Natives had been brewing for so long that it seemed impossible that a war wouldn’t happen anyways. Though it seems that the settler’s paranoia is what contributed most to the friction between the two factions. The vicinity of these events also make this much more relevant for me as a reader and to know that many of the places that I call home was once the sight of a very complex war between my (probable) ancestors and the Native Americans.
In reading "The Long Shadow of King Philip" I found myself learning more about the history of Native people more than I expected to learn for the area of Massachusetts. Mainly as a student I was taught briefly about King Philip but not much. What I was taught was that King Philip was a man that slaughtered innocents essentially turning him into a bad person in my child eyes. Another interesting thing to note was how settlers and colonists made him look. Paul Revere made him look hideous with an almost monster-like quality. In fact most Natives are given a terrifying quality to them in art by colonists. If they are not terrifying to look at then they are savage which is unfair of colonials to do considering how they really were. During the war the Natives fought with guns just like the settlers yet pictures depict Natives as being naked with bows and arrows as a sign of belittling them.
When reading these articles, it is (yet again) unfortunate to discover how an important Native American figure has failed to be well remembered by American society. After Metacom’s passing, the Puritans did everything in their power to belittle his life and importance as native figure; it was shocking to see that Paul Revere was even involved in this with the way he made a comical portrait of Metacom. It was interesting to read about his history, especially when it’s so close to home. Growing up in Rhode Island, Metacom was the second son of Massasoit – the primary Native American of the Wampanoag tribe to try and keep the peace between the natives and the Puritans.
After the death of Massasoit, the peace began to dwindle; whether it was true or not, English settlers were convinced that Alexander and Philip were plotting to white about the Puritans. This created growing tensions between the natives and the whites, eventually leading to war. It is important and valuable to learn the true historical stories of Native tribes, wars, and significant figures, as native history is sometimes generalized. It is common for people (especially students) to simply think that English colonists arrived to North America, discovered the “savages” who would attack the whites without reason, and were eventually killed off by the English out of self-defense. As we have been learning thus far in class, this is not the case at all. It is imperative for students to learn about and understand the variety of native stories and the reasons why certain things happened. King Philip was an important native in the seventeenth century so it’s regrettable that he has been, at times, unremembered and belittled in American history.
This reading mentioned many of the stereotypes we have been discussing in class this semester. The headdress was one of the many examples of the stereotypes that were mentioned in class and in the reading the Grandmother was angry when her grandson came out with a feathered headdress. When she realized that the only reason her grandson was disrespecting the native culture with these inaccuracies was because he didn’t know any better. The only place he was learning about heritage was at school.
When I first learned about King Phillip in school I had been taught that he was a man that killed innocent people, which made him a bad guy. It was shocking to see how Paul Revere depicted King Phillip with barbarian like qualities. Because, the colonists saw the Natives as savages they had to make them look that way throughout art.
Although King Phillip is seen in a negative light he lived his life in peace. Most of the information taught about King Phillip is not very accurate along with a lot of other readings about Native Americans the information is inaccurate and gives light to many stereotypes of the Native Americans.
Response to “Metacom(ic) Moments” and “The Long Shadow of King Phillip’s War”
While reading Metacom(ic) Moments: Written and Visual Representations of King Phillip, I kept thinking back to the first week or two of our class. It is sad that this is what children are learning at school about the Indigenous people, but here we are all just learning a lot about them as well. As for the teachers, knowing that they have the resources to go out there and find alternative ways to teach their students about the Indigenous people and Christopher Columbus, they are the ones who we should be trying to guide to the resources. I especially liked the story about when the little boy comes out of school with feathers on and talks about how Indians live in teepees, because that is something we can all relate to. I can remember from my own schooling that I used to think all Indians lived in huts or teepees, but that is not the case. Just like many other peoples and cultures, for the different regions and groups/tribes they belong to, they have different housing options. I thought this quote summed everything up from this reading and it was, “No other ethnic group in the United States has endured greater and more varied distortions of its cultural identity than American Indians,” said by Devon Mihesuah. The picture on the fourth page of the article really got me to think. There was so much thought put into the picture and it was all to put the Indigenous people down. First, the woman is naked and looks like she was just taking a nap on the hammock, and she is looking up at the colonizer. The interpretation is that America (Indians) had it coming for them because they were too lazy and the land was there for the taking. That is such a twisted picture and I do not believe that it should be on display anywhere.
In “The Long Shadow of King Philip’s War”, it is evident that King Philip or Metacom wanted to help his people. It did not go as planned because of his death and after he died, his name meant nothing. It is wrong to think that just because this man died, trying to help his people that certain people like Paul Revere took advantage of that and made Metacom look like a fool in a portrait. It was interesting and almost funny in the description of the portrait to the right hand side that it mentions how Paul Revere never even saw King Philip, he had just based it on other pictures of other native people. It is extremely ignorant of him to do this, yet he was the one putting King Philip’s name down. King Philip (Metacom) was the one trying to keep peace between the settlers and his native people, but nothing ever came from it. His name was tarnished and his memory does not live on in a positive light.
The beginning of “The Long Shadow of King Phillip” is disheartening. It talks about the boulder where it is said that he planned his movements and also came back sad to die. It goes on to say that the years following the war, his legacy was tarnished by various people and his legacy was ruined. Paul Revere, one of the United States’ most beloved historical figures, painted a portrait of King Phillip that portrayed him as hideous and grotesque. Much of history is speculation or has to be taken with a grain of salt as it is always written by the victor, and in this case the Americans. The Europeans thought that King Phillip was conspiring with other native tribes to attack the settlements, and a Christian-converted Indian, Sassamon, thought that as well. Apparently there is a witness that saw several other natives kill him and throw his body in the river, prompting the Europeans to gather all the natives and execute them. When word of this reached King Phillip, he prepared for war. These are the kinds of stories in history that make me do a double take and wonder. How many of these stories are accurate or true? Who is the person that first told this information and what is that person’s history with the conflicting parties? All of this information must be considered when analyzing history. However tough and willing to die for his cause he was, he apparently lacked true strategy in attacking settlements and the Europeans. For example, he and his army attacked Swansea, but lacked the numbers to stay there and hold off reinforcements. I wonder if it is because he lacked numbers in his army as a whole, or because he truly did not have enough experience in handling this type of war. I can assume that it is a combination of both. Being at war with an enemy who’s weapons are superior to yours must be an uphill battle.
The beginning of the “Metacom(ic) Moments” article presents a theme that has been common in this years class, which is the misrepresentation of Native Americans in rhetoric and art. There is an example given of a mural that depicts a native with a torch in hand and getting ready to attack a house. This theme has infested our history and continues to be prevalent in today’s art. It may not be something that is being painted about today, but the fact that it is still displayed is troubling. If people and the nation are to move past this issue, then that is exactly what we have to do: move past it. Stop displaying it, be accepting towards the right frame of mind and stop permitting the wrong one.
This week, we were asked to look at two articles concerning the Wampanoag Sachem King Phillip, Metacom, or Pometacom. “The Long Shadow of King Philip” and “Metacom(ic) Moments…” both detail King Phillip’s War, the controversial moments leading up to the war, and the measures taken on both sides to maintain “peaceful” relations after and during the war.
Massasoit, the great peaceful Sachem, was attempting to maintain relations with the Southern New England tribes/colonies by constantly appeasing the colonists’ conquest for land. By selling Indian territory to settlers, he was keeping his peoples’ best interests in mind in hopes for avoiding having Indian tribes subjugated to European laws. When Massasoit fell due to some mysterious ailment picked up in one of the colonies, his two sons, dubbed Alex and Phillip under law, stepped up in his place.
Following Massasoit’s death, relations between settlers and Indians grew tense. Phillip was constantly under suspicion of plotting against the setters. It wasn’t until his apparent scribe, who was a converted Christian and pupil of John Elliot, turned up dead in a pond that the conflict erupted. Three natives were executed, and thus Phillip felt it was time for action. King Phillips’ War raged for a year, where countless settlements were raided by Natives. The number of casualties outnumbered any war that took place in the area, at about 9,000, and thus this was deemed the greatest act of war to ever take place on New England soil.
A lot of the details addressed in the article were quite disturbing, especially on behalf of the settlers. First, following the war, Natives were completely persecuted and subjugated to the laws of the colonies. Even the tribes that remained neutral or sided with the settlers were persecuted. One would think after such an outstanding act of violence coming to an end settlers would leave the remaining Natives to go about their business. It is also outrageous that the Natives were cast in such a negative light. Though they were clearly the instigators of the conflict, settlers were just as much to blame. And lastly, to think that a war hero such as King Phillip who had such an impact was not only dismembered and put on display, but even caricaturized later in artists portrayals is beyond disrespectful.
King Phillip, though he was an outstanding warrior on behalf of the Natives, memory has fallen from history due to primacy. A man with such little means, who could spark such a revolutionary conflict deserves more recognition than what little he received.
Native Writing and Rhetoric
Throughout this course I am constantly being made aware of all the different things which have influenced me towards developing stereotypes of who native people were and what they stood/stand for as a people. I feel like I have always approached the subject in a dual manner. For instance, I have never felt as though I have ever been outwardly prejudiced towards any particular group. However, as we watch clips from derogatory cartoons, investigate the stigmas placed in our society by the media, and delve into such issues as the caricaturization of the indigenous archetype as school mascots, I realize that there is so much that I have blindly accepted as okay. However, it is not okay. Negative images are constantly being subliminally inputted in our minds, and it is difficult to say why we accept such absurd traditions as acceptable. I thought of all of this as I read about the images projected in murals in our post offices and other public places. It is true that “ images in words and visuals from early New England and discovery narratives have had the power to shape a collective mindset about the Indigenous peoples of the Americas.” I have felt the sense of that myself. We unknowingly build false concepts of the people who inhabited this land because of the false images which have been projected upon us.
The images which have been projected through stereotypes have been sustained to an abnormal degree. As Dr. Anderson states, “These early accounts on Indigenous peoples fired the imaginations of the Europeans and provided them with ideas about the new world as a fertile yet a dangerous place, and the early images that still have persistent power today.” It is disturbing to think that these false images have not only lasted throughout large periods of time, but that we maintain these images. The maintenance of these images has had a deep historical impact on the culture and well-being of the indigenous people.
November 18th, 2014
Metacom was an intriguing read due to the fact that it contained many of the Native American stereotypes that we have touched upon in class. One of the more prominent examples that stood out to me was in the beginning of the excerpt where they discuss murals that were contained in an office that depicted Native Americans attacking colonial settlers. This was a little surprising me because the illustration that this mural was depicting was factually wrong in many ways. Another example that was provided was when the author discusses how her son came home from kindergarten and talked to her about the concept of teepees that he learned in class, which was factually wrong. He and his classmates also made “Indian” headbands and learned about the stereotypical version of Thanksgiving involving the Native Americans and the Pilgrims. This excerpt really stood out to me due to the fact that it discusses stereotypes of Native Americans that many people still hold onto presently which is truthfully sad.
This weeks readings were very interesting in regards of both context and concept. Even though the basic theme/concept has been similar throughout the year, these readings discussed them in a way we haven’t really discussed before; it explained the stereotypes and misleadings of Native American people through the education of a young Native American boy with limited, prior knowledge of his ancestors. As a whole, the reading portrayed many stereotypes that we’ve discussed throughout this year, but seeing them in a different type of context was intriguing and hurtful at the same time. For example, when the author’s grandson came home with a teepee, not knowing much about it other than what he learned in school, and his grandmother had to explain what it was and how it was crucially important to his ancestors. Then when he came home in a headband with a feather in it, acting if nothing was wrong, and his grandmother was in shock. It’s moments like these where not only do we experience the stereotypes learned in schools, but how it effects those of Native American decent. However, in my opinion, this would not be as much of a shock if the boy knew a little more about his ancestors…knew more concrete, true facts about his people.
We also learned more about Metacom, or King Phillip as the Europeans labeled him as, and how common stereotypes completely exaggerated the image of a humble man. Metacom was portrayed as the stereotypical “savage” because we mainly only learn about his war efforts. However, the facts that we do not emphasize on teaching is how he was a kind, family-oriented chief who only fought the settlers after exhausting every other alternative resource for freedom and peace. Before this reading, I never knew that he had a brother, named Alexander, who ruled with Metacom until his death. Details like this that could have changed our view and opinion of Native Americans were selectively unused, so in the end it was the Puritan’s story as opposed to the actual history. We discussed before in class that history is recorded by the victor, but how much of history do we actually get to learn?
In reading "Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Paul Cuffe, A Pequot Indian" I learned a lot about Cuffe. I learned about how he became a sailor and survived out in the ocean. The ocean is a part of our heritage and culture so it is always interesting to learn about the history of my culture, New England specifically. MA is a part of that culture. In the ocean sailors would stick out for each other so race didn't matter as much as it did on the land. It didn't matter what color skin you had as long as you could do your job. Paul Cuffe was also African descended as well as Native American and most people don't think about the blood of a person mixing in and making them look like a dominant race.
Response to “Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Paul Cuffe, a Pequot Indian”
Already from the beginning of this story of Paul Cuffe, there is hope. To know that his grandfather was sent to live with a family from Massachusetts and they were Quakers, who did not believe in slavery, was great to read because he was let free. He was then able to start a life and meet a Native American woman whom he started a life with. Because of both his mother and father, Paul Cuffe was both African and Native American. He tells us in his story that he identified more with his Native American history which seems to be right considering that is what he grew up knowing with his mother being a Wampanoag Indian from Martha’s Vineyard. I thought this piece of information was more important than noted because here is someone who has two different backgrounds because of their parents, but then can decide which side he wants to relate more with. Although both the Native Indian and African people have had hard times with racial problems, he makes sure that his Native American side is recognizable. It also mentions that his father identifies more strongly with his African background which makes sense because that is how he was raised.
His narrative starts with his voyage with his father and all of the details that he mentions are what made the voyage what it was. The people that helped out on the voyage are what made this life at sea worth it. I like to think of his narrative of a seaman’s life while on board. It was more for Paul Jr. because he got to be with his father and experience it with him. It is important to mention that he brings up how their ship capsized while they were trying to get to Maine, but with the thanks of the “Great Father” (God) they were all able to make it there in the end without any casualties taking place. Whenever Paul Cuffe tells us the places they were able to visit, I wonder how they made it to each and every place in one piece. Yes, they do face storms and other bumps but they always make it. It was interesting to hear some of the items that they were buying and selling to the different people in the locations they spent time at. I did not think that paying them in oil would be as good of a trade that it was, because they did seem happy with the result. I thought the parts about the whale were very descriptive. It also shows how resourceful the seamen were in trying to get what they wanted from the whales. The blubber in the whales contains the oil are what kept the men able to continue on. They did whatever they could to get from one place to the next.
The memoir of Paul Cuffe was very different from any other reading we have read this semester. I believe that this is either the first memoir or one of the very few we have read in class and that is because this isn’t just a diary entry that Paul Cuffe wrote in this is his collection of his years spent at sea as a teen or young adult. The small amount of history we are given is that Paul Cuffe’s grandfather was sold to a family in MA and because of their religious beliefs they freed his grandfather. Cuffe’s grandfather met a Native American women and married her and they had Cuff’s father: Paul Cuffe Sr. Cuffe Sr. then married a Wampanoag Indian women and had Paul Cuffe Jr. I found this really interesting that Cuffe Jr. was a mixture of both African and Native American decent. In his memoir Cuffe Jr. reveals no other information about his family life including if he had children or even got married.
One thing Paul Cuffe Jr. really focuses on in his memoir is the amount of days it took him to get to places or how long they stayed there. Over and over Cuffe would list the days, weeks, and months he spent trading and going home. In his memoir he lists his capture, escape, recapture, and final release without any serious emotion towards the dangers. This also goes along with his long isolated journeys at sea. Throughout his entire memoir Cuffe never expresses his fears with death but always seems fully in control and has a plan even though these events may seem outrageous to many people today. Thinking of this I imagine the show “Deadliest Catch” where these people risk their lives in the freezing ocean trying to catch crabs and lobsters.
Even in his conclusion he writes that he wishes that who ever wants to peruse events similar to these that, “heaven’s choicest blessings ever be theirs. . .” and that they can enjoy the moments of these opportunities. I this that this is important to remember. Although I don’t think I would ever want to trade things on a boat around the world I do think it is important to take advantage of these opportunities that you may never get again.
Critical Response (Paul Cuffe)
November 19, 2014
The very beginning of the introduction to Paul Cuffe’s narrative is very interesting. It tells the reader that Paul Cuffe Junior incorrectly called himself a Pequot as he was actually Wampanoag, and that his father identified more with his African ancestry. It never occurred to me that a native could wrongly identify with a different tribe or culture. I always figured that it would be clear from the parents or the way you were brought up, but I suppose over time with a crossing of cultures and relations there could be a mix-up with where specifically you are from. A person might know that they are native or even Italian, but which tribe or part of the country you come from would be lost over the years.
I found it very interesting to read about his life though. The fact that he apparently glances over the fact that he was in Portugal when Napoleon was invading is a crazy fact. This was at the height of the conflict between Great Britain and France, and he was merely traveling back and forth for trade. It is crazy to think that he was traveling back and forth at a time when ships were being attacked, seized, or the sailors were being impressed into the different navies. This is just further proof at a much more historical point of view that Native Americans were not confined to reservations. While I realize that he identified more with his African ancestry and is considered a black abolitionist, this still disproves the stereotype that Native American blood would hold you back, or even African American blood for that matter. It is apparent that he was educated, made a living for himself, and even traveled every ocean. That is a feat that few in our time can say with truth.
The second article, “Wampum as Hypertext,” is also a very interesting article. Wampum dates back as far as the tribes do is used to make belts or other woven objects or garments and provide a link to other tribes or cultures who they have traded with. They were also used as records for civil affairs or ceremonies or alliances made. This represents one of the earliest ways that records were taken, and people were connected without being in the same place at the same time. This is the connection to “hypertext.” In a way, they were already doing what we are today with the Internet.
Paul Cuffe, Wampum and Folk Art
Paul Cuffe was one of ten children boring into the Wampanoag Indian tribe, but also had a African decent. Little is known about Paul Cuffe, which is interesting, but a brief memoir tells us a little about his journeys. He is known for helping free blacks emigrate to Sierra Leone. I think it is very interesting that he was from Cuttyhunk Island, which is very close to where I live and I never heard about him. I think it was awesome what he tried to do for the Native Americans and African Americans. Cuffe became politically active in his early 20s. In 1780, against the backdrop of the American Revolution, Cuffe led a group of free blacks to petition the Massachusetts government either to give African Americans and Native Americans voting rights or cease taxing them.
The key aspects from this article that I took where from these two quotes. “To begin, wampum is a small, short, tubular bead, made from the quahog clam shell. The white beads are made from the inner whorl of the shell, and the purple beads come from the dark spot or “eye” on the shell. To begin, wampum is a small, short, tubular bead, made from the quahog clam shell. The white beads are made from the inner whorl
of the shell, and the purple beads come from the dark spot or “eye” on the shell.”
The essay about folk art builds upon previous research in visual argument, further refuting objections through an examination of folk art theory. Folk art introduces unique perspectives on the role of art within and between communities, and establishes potential frames wherein folk artists assert communal identities and may refute colonial ones. Folk art thus presents a unique case in visual argument, grounded in contextual representation and significant for intercultural communication. As a case study explicating the role of folk art in visual argument, this essay traces the development of Blackfeet beadwork from 1895 to 1935.
Never once have I ever heard of a man named Paul Cuffee, until now after reading his memoir. This man lived an exciting, dangerous, action-filled life and never stayed put. I am not one that can stand being away from my family or home for long lengths of time, unlike Paul who couldn’t spend more than 5 months in the same place. I understand that he was a man of risk-seeking and thrills but I just don’t understand why he would continue to risk going out to sea after he almost died numerous times. Back then the oceans seemed like the area where war took place instead of on land. Pirates and other attackers would just go from one ship to the next capturing it, confining the men onboard, and stealing everything they could get their greedy hands on. I am surprised that Paul didn’t talk more about his parents and siblings, he does mention he has siblings but he doesn’t go into much detail about them. The ocean was, obviously, his life and his whole world and couldn’t get enough of it. The one journey that caught my attention was the one where he was held prisoner for months and was poorly treated. After not having much to eat and being weak he never gave up once and always put up a fight for his freedom. He never really talks about having much friends besides one companion that helps him become free but while doing so dies. He writers “he had no kind friend to close his eyes for the last time, except the writer of this narrative…” to me Paul doesn’t see his own courage and good heart instead he thinks that his friend deserves someone better to see before he dies. Paul risks his life on a continue basis every time he sails out on the ships and I think he does this because he isn’t afraid of dying. Why else would he continue to go out to sea after everything he has gone through? It’s not like he doesn’t know the risks of being aboard ship and being a sailor. He had seen so many deaths from men dying in battle to catching yellow fever and dying.
Another thing I realized is that in the beginning Paul talks about his race and how he is both Native American and African American. This was interesting because although he was two different races, he notes that he identified more with his Native American ancestry rather than his father’s race of African American. He had the choice to choose what race he can identify more with and it didn’t have to be based on his physical appearance. Native Indian and African people have had hard times with racial problems, but he makes sure that his Native American side is recognizable. He also mentions that his father identifies more with his African background which makes sense because that is how he was raised and what he grew up knowing.
I like the concept of folk art theory presented in the "Art, Communication, and Visual Argument: The Response of Folk Art" article. I liked the basket weaving article which we read earlier in this semester, and this is the same concept. I like the nonverbal rhetorical elements of this course, and wish we could spend more time on them, especially because Native Americans from all time periods have represented themselves through their nonverbal rhetoric more than through their written rhetoric.
I agreed with the point which stated that "beadwork ceases to be 'beadwork' if one uses a glue gun instead of needle and thread." I didn't understand what was meant by "process" until the author provided that explanation. It is true that, while two pieces of beadwork may look identical, the needle and thread one is more authentic as folk art because it was created according to tradition. It is the same as when machines and the assembly line were introduced into the industry. The work changed vastly for consumerism and commercialism. It lost its status as real and traditional and valuable when it became mass produced.
I like that community and culture are linked with these forms of tradition and art. It makes sense as a medium of rhetoric, an expression of the tribe, and a unifying point for a peoples. Native Americans are known for their tight-knit communities, and this folk art is a great symbol of this unity.
I found these readings to be quite fascinating in regards to one’s identity. As I started to read Paul Cuffe’s narrative, I immediately put myself in his shoes. I wondered how I would process such information; to one day wake up and discover that my culture/nationality, that I was so proud of, was not actually family’s true nationality. I would not know what to do with that information. Part of me will try to convince myself that I have been and always be Mediterranean, but at the same time I would be extremely curious about the other culture or nationality’s practices and traditions. Paul Cuffe believed that he was a Pequot, but he was actually a Wampanoag. Even though both are of Native American culture/nationality, both are different and distinct in their own ways, practices and traditions. For Paul Cuffe to reflect upon this discovery as well as reflect upon his own life was quite interesting in comparison.
The other reading was also intriguing, but again, it brought up some similar feelings of perceiving language and communication. Wampum combined the art of crafting with the recording of history and allegiances, which would establish the connection between both tribes via trade. To me, this was a very creative and personal method of trading and establishing bonds with other tribes. Not only were they some of the earliest ways of recording historic events, but also one of the first methods of connecting people to each other throughout time, despite the distance between one another. It’s a very personal, sentimental way of staying connected, almost like writing a letter these days. With the convenience of social media and technology, not so many people take the time to handwrite a letter and send it to someone who they care deeply about. In a way, handwriting a letter is our modern day version of Wampum hypertext.
20 November 2014
Critical Response – 11/18
I’m surprised that this is the first time I’ve ever heard of Paul Cuffee. His life is a fascinating story, and while not as “important” to United States history as many of his contemporaries, he lived a life worth learning about. Cuffee’s identity is a patchwork of different heritages, which makes him a person who was dealing with issues of conformity and identity in the Americas long before most of these issues were openly discussed. His Native American and West African ancestry must have led him to feel out of place in a world where nearly everyone around him must have found it easy to conform to more rigid delineations of race. Even when taking his native ancestry into account, there is still some confusion he must have felt. In learning about native groups in this course, I’ve come to realize how vastly different Native American groups can be, even if they shared land that bordered one another. For someone who believed themselves to be Pequot, only to find out that their roots traced back to the Wampanoags, Cuffee would have to reexamine what he thought of himself. I can’t imagine what it must be like to wake up one day and have to deal with the burden of one’s identity having shifted, ever so slightly, seemingly overnight.
Cuffee’s life story is one of adventure and intrigue in an age where much of the world was still being “discovered.” What’s fascinating about his life is how far and wide his travels took him. As a man of mixed-race ancestry, he must have felt the sting of racism in his life, traveling from place to place and being one of only a handful of people who shared his racial background. I wonder how he felt as he traveled the world and arrived in distant places, only to realize that in a very real way, he was all alone.
Cuffee’s mixed-race ancestry, some of which had roots in Africa, led him to live the life of an abolitionist. Progressive for someone of his time, in Cuffee’s day, he would have been fighting for the rights of all people to be equals, not just Native Americans or African Americans. His story is an interesting one because he doesn’t fit into many of the same molds we’ve encountered earlier on in the semester. Cuffee’s story is one of a Native American man who isn’t necessarily “bound” by his native ancestry. He saw himself as a person of two worlds, and because of this, he used his faith in God to fight for the equality of other people who may have been struggling with the same issues he dealt with. It’s a shame that history glosses over him, as he was a fascinating man from many, differing perspectives.
The reading for today introduced us to Paul Cuffe Jr., an explorer of Wampanoag and African American ancestry. Cuffe’s ancestry begins with his great grandfather being captured as an African American slave and then sent to a Quaker family. The Quaker family however did not agree with owning slaves and as a result freed him. He then went on to marry a Wampanoag Indian from Martha’s vineyard and had ten children, one of which was Cuffe’s father. Ever since he was a young boy Cuffe has always traveled. Cuffe’s first journey began when he was 14 year old and he embarked on a journey with his father and an all black and Native American crew to Georgia and Delaware to retrieve cotton. I really appreciated Cuffe’s determination on his journeys. He often tells of all of the troubles he encountered while on these journeys, but perseveres and continues his journey. His dedication to all of his different journeys and goals of those voyages is honorable and shows what kind of a man Cuffe really was, committed to his work.
This week’s readings offer an unexpected look at one aspect of Native history. What makes these texts so interesting is how they provide another perspective to look at the historical significance of Native peoples. Again, much of the reading of this class seems to challenge particular views of Native peoples, but they also invigorate the uncultivated grounds for which a new image can emerge.Paul Cuffe’s memoir proves this. I’ll admit, that it was an unexpected change of pace in the readings, and I’ve never actually heard of a Native sailor in any of my historical learnings. I think Cuffe’s memoir and the accompanying material offer a glimpse into a virtually unheard of experience. Additionally, and this is probably the most important takeaway. this reading demonstrates how Native peoples were not confined to this historical image that we like to keep them in. We like to imagine that native peoples were either always in their tribe or always on their reservations. The reality seems to be otherwise. Cuffe’s memoir proves that Native peoples could live lives that were just as increasingly complex as anyone else at the time. In fact, Cuffe himself is somewhat of an adventurer, as he travels around the globe and, amazingly, avoids total imprisonment at least three times! I think this is a testament to the untold stories that compose the Native american experience in this country.
November 20th, 2014
I found the story of Paul Cuffee to be quite intriguing. Paul Cuffe’s ancestry was tied to West African roots, and began his life being owned by a Quaker family. After being freed by this quaker family (due to the fact that they did not believe in slavery) Cuffee became an abolitionist. He also touches upon his unique experience at sea, evading imprisonment three times. Paul Cuffee’s memoir provides an intriguing perspective on Cuffee’s unique experience. I believe that Cuffee’s unique and almost untold experience ties into some of the untold Native American history and stories that we have touched upon in this class. By reading Paul Cuffee’s memoir it provides a different perspective that we may have not had in the past, which ultimately enlightens us on the experiences of Native Americans of the past. I found this specific memoir to be immensely intriguing.
Native Writing and Rhetoric
I found the adventures of Paul Cuffe to be extremely interesting. It makes obvious sense that Native Americans would take on several different types of employment, including sailor work, but I think that our society often steers away from identifying indigenous people in a multi-contextual manner. It is our tendency in American society to fit minorities into some binary idea of who they are and what they have accomplished. For instance, when we read Gerald Vizenor and his details of native soldiers, the concept that bands of native men volunteered from reservations to serve overseas had been a historical fact I had never considered or been introduced to.
I really liked the segment when Paul recalls his friendship with the man from Cape Cod. The idea of brotherhood and helping one another was displayed immensely throughout this part. I also thought it was significant when he conveyed the living environment in Peru. He stated that although the living conditions were less than desirable, the people were content. He states, “This forms the dwelling of these poor, but happy people.” I think that this is relevant to many of our discussions. Although he is talking about people who are not indigenous to America but to Peru, the same notion that native individuals can obtain true happiness without the inconsistencies of “civilized” Western traditions remains evident. Cuffe found solitude and peace in the “poor” living conditions. As we discuss reservations and the stereotypes regarding the living conditions, I think it is important to consider this text. Everyone had different traditions and standards of living, but if happiness is achieved maybe we are focusing on the wrong standards.
I think that pictures are a powerful use of rhetoric. It engages the viewers, and maybe without them even knowing they are persuaded toward a certain feeling. Artwork usually depicts savage Native Americans waiting to attack unknowing, innocent settlers. This is what it appears to be. For someone who doesn’t know about the Native culture they are thought to believe that these Native Americans are only here to cause harm to innocent people, who are minding their own business. This of course was not the case, but Euro-Americans made other believe it was by using pictures, such as these. “I start with this one to show how images in words and visuals from early New England and discovery narratives have had the power to shape a collective mindset about the Indigenous peoples of the Americas,” (Anderson, 2).
This lack of knowledge really has to do with how children are taught in school. At such a young age they are showed one vision of Native Americans and that sticks with them for the rest of their lives. This is why stereotypes are carried through generations. As mentioned these first views and images come from Columbus, and have stuck with us since.
Other images allow us to think that Native people welcomed settlers here, and they wanted to be discovered. They compare native people being naked and sleeping about, where as the civilized European dressed nice shows up with clothes to discover their land. “Moreover, the assumption is that naked America wakes from sleep and prepares, even welcomes the opportunity, to be “discovered.” Viewers cannot help but notice the oppositions of male/female, clothed/naked, standing/ reclining, culture/nature which weave into the fantasy aspects of the scene,” (Anderson, 4).
These images have a strong impact on us then and in today’s time. “In some cases the perpetuation of such ideas contributes to an ongoing genocide of Native peoples. As well, this impact makes it difficult to promote teachings/scholarship about real Indians or to teach your grandchildren about their ancestors and cultures,” (Anderson, 5). Images stick in our minds and ultimately decided how we might feel or think on a subject. It has made us think Native Americans are savages; who needed to be civilized. This is why we have to be careful and think about what is shown to children. The books and items they learn in school is what will stick with them for the rest of their life.
The essay “Visual Argument in Intercultural Contexts: Perspectives on Folk/Traditional Art by Kathleen Glenister Roberts was very interesting because one part of Native American culture I am really interested in is their cultures’ art. Both this essay and the essay “Wampum as Hypertext” by Angela M. Haas were about Native American art but two completely different forms of art. I always thought folk art was just art that was created by ancestors of different cultures hundreds of years ago. I didn’t know that folk art can be continued by different people as long as the people follow the process of the artist(s). Art in today’s society is seen in so many different ways that the “art”, to me, doesn’t even seem like art anymore. Everything is art and everyone tries to become an artist. People think it is so easy and that anyone can be an artist and whatever they do or make, to them, is “art”. The definition of art has changed so much in society that I honestly don’t even know what real art is anymore. One form of art I do know that is real and beautiful is Native American art, and that is why I am so interested in their art because it is still one form of art that lives on today and it hasn’t tried to be replaced by someone or something. In order to art to be folk art it needs to achieve the art form and then passing on this knowledge of creating the art form is more important than the artifact itself. The traditional process that the artist used for their creation needs to continue the same way from when they first created it until now. It’s not all about the artist it is about the community or culture that the artifact resembles. Without the culture the artist wouldn’t have been able to create anything but because of culture and community folk art is created.
The part of this essay that I enjoyed reading the most was about the intercultural contact between the Blackfeet and the Anglo missionaries. It is astonishing that the more I read these articles or essays for assignments the more I learn how horrible the Natives were treated. It is bad enough that their land was taken from them but to take the way they voice their identity and religious views is just wrong. Just because the Blackfeet looked different and had different beliefs that meant that they needed to be stopped and inherit the “right” way to live by which was the Anglo way of life. At first they used their geometric designs which were symbols that held much spiritual significance for Blackfeet, but Christian missionaries encouraged Blackfeet women to embroider floral motifs, which represented Saints in European and Anglo-American folk art. The use of floral designs was a form of cultural colonization because Blackfeet women were to stop their traditional designs and adopt a European cultural form. This is horrible and not right! They had no way to communicate openly anymore or create the type of art they enjoyed creating that symbolized the things they believed in. Who wants to create a beautiful piece of art that has nothing to do with what the artist believes in or what they want to create. I always thought that art was created on the terms of the artist and the ideas that come to their mind.
The second essay was about something I always idolized and wanted to learn how to create, wampum strings and belts. The very first paragraph is from the Cherokee Nation’s Trail of Tears exhibit and is a detail account on what the white and purple wampum beads mean. I think it is amazing how smart the Natives were to create beads and each color bead symbolizes something different. The wampum beads were used for ceremony and as records of important civil affairs by stringing the beads together on individual stands or weaving them into belts because they had no other way to record events that happened and wanted to make sure these events were never forgotten.
Art takes on many forms in my perspective. To me the term folk art always carried a negative viewpoint because in my mind I saw tacky and kitschy items involving farms whether it was barnyard animals or fields of corn to me it was never an appealing art genre. Now I know that folk art is not necessarily what I believed it to be. Folk art is more traditional than what I had originally thought. "Visual Argument in Intercultural Contexts" by Kathleen Glenister Roberts taught me how to appreciate what real folk art was. Reading this particular piece showed me that art doesn't have to be fine art all the time. In fact the art that I appreciate more tends to come from the locals. Local artists take their time to make traditional pieces of work unlike other artists that perhaps are simply selling for the sake of fame and money. Natives use beads in their work and it shows the skill that they have which depending on the artist could be an amazing piece.
Response to “Wampum as Hypertext” and “Visual Folk Art”
The quote on the top of the article immediately reminded me of the web that was in one of our earlier reading responses. It is interesting to see this appear again because in the previous reading, the Driskill poems, the urban queer was the one who was on the spider web and I interpreted it as they felt stuck on the web and could not get out because of the societal boundaries. This quote on the top of the “Wampum as Hypertext” is almost the same thing because it has to do with society. We are all a “strand” of society and whatever we do to ourselves, the web itself can be viewed as life, but our lives and what we make of them are the strands that make up the complete web.
The history of the Wampum is very interesting. To see all that goes into and onto the belt is very much part of their history and to see all of the pictures where it is present shows that it means something to that community. There is a responsibility that comes with the wampum belts and every person that gets to acquire one has to be aware of that responsibility. In some of the captions they are noted as treaty belt replicas showing that they carry importance not just to one tribe or group of people but a collection of people and groups. It can unify the colonists and the Native Americans. My favorite part of this reading was “Thus wampum is a hypertext of communicative modes—all of which contribute to cultural knowledge production and preservation.” I believe this is the most important of it all. It sums up how the wampum is something that connects people based on its communication. It speaks to people and groups through its cultural and preservation.
After reading “Visual Folk Art” I got a sense that certain words do not mean exactly what you think. For some people, words mean very different things. I thought it was great that they went over actual definitions of words so we could see them in text right in front of us. I have never heard of Blackfeet Beadwork before but now I grasped the concept that Blackfeet Beads are “inexpensive and the aesthetics of Blackfeet beadwork are specific: The stitch is overlay, taking care to anchor at least every second bead to the material on which it is applied, and stitches are much tighter than those of other Plains Indian groups.” Culturally it is important to know the difference and the important of the different kinds of artwork each area has.
25 November 2014
Critical Response – 11/20
Today’s reading reminded me again of a prevailing theme that we have learned in the class this semester: the power of the artist. While wampum art is something many students might be familiar with from their earlier days, it was fascinating to learn more about its history and its cultural significance to the people who created it. The term “folk art” was used to describe the pieces and the genre of art as a whole, and until now, I had never given the term much significance. I had seen it before, but I had never connected the term to mean the art of indigenous people. I learned that the term itself is used, in context, to describe Native American art and how important it was to their society.
Once again, one can see the importance of women on display in native culture. As the primary creators of wampum pieces, women had to ability to contribute to the artistic output of Native American people, and took every opportunity before. As we have discussed before, art carries not only a powerful message, but a powerful legacy, as well. Generations of women would craft beautiful shell work that incorporated all sorts of elaborate designs on them. Some were simple designs of people and places, but others could hold greater significance. I can image native women designing pieces with hidden meanings and elaborate messages, particularly after contact with European settlers, as a form of survivance. By passing down this skill to their daughters, these women were passing on not only their traditions, but also the values we still associate with the artist today.
There is mention in the readings again about how European settlers did not understand native traditions when it came to their artwork. I cannot image seeing the wampum work that the natives were doing and not seeing the artistic qualities on display, but this is what happened. Like many native customs, not only were European settlers not content with the fact that the artwork was dissimilar to their own, but they wanted native women to throw away thousands of years of tradition and artistry. What they did not appreciate was the art on its most basic level, and wanted their designs to reflect and adopt customs and conventions that they knew, a recurring pattern that emerges not just in the art, but unfortunately, in many other places, too.
The plight of native people in this country truly cannot be understated. We sometimes forget that although the human toll of war and disease is astronomic, there is also a toll in other avenues, as well. When we lose forms of art and artwork as a whole, we lose much of what makes a culture so special. I hope that native artwork will be alive and thriving so that we may all appreciate it for generations to come.
When I read folk art I was reminded that Native American ways of art were one of the first things I learned about Natives. My teachers got pretty much everything wrong about Native Americans in the grade school level but I always knew that art was important to them. Native American art is so interesting because it is so pure. It doesn’t rely on any sources of modern technology and those types of things need to remain in people’s lives to balance out the chaos of the fast paced modern world. The wampum belts were also very interesting. I found them to be art themselves. All that they add to the belts and goes into making them gives it a higher power and that’s almost what art is in some sense. The belt came with responsibility and anyone who wore it had the knowledge of that responsibility. Art was very important back then and though the image of art and what people see as art has definitely changed; I think art will always in a sense keep people’s feet on the ground. Especially, native art and older forms of art because they are more pure, being created with one ingredient which is nature.
Considering the nature of this class, I think the provided readings offer a fitting conclusion. Much of this class has urged other to reexamine the Native American identity and its connection to the story of the United States. It really is an Overwhelmingly task, evidently, as the deeper one delves into these kinds of readings, the complexities of this study become increasingly more apparent. Due to the particularly aggressive development of the United states as a Nation, Native Peoples faced massive amounts of problems. One of those problems was that of marginalization. Even today, as these articles highlight, Native creative constructs have largely been ignored by the greater society of the United States and its Academia. It is just one shining example of how their is still a disconnection between the cultural sensibilities of Native Peoples and those of the larger American society.
November 25th, 2014
One of the assigned readings that I found intriguing was the article Wampum as Hypertext by Angela Haas. I found this reading to be immensely intriguing due to the fact that it provides a counterargument to the Western claim of the origins of hypertext and multimedia. The article goes on to discuss the significance of Wampum belts in Native American communities. These belts served as hypertextual technologies to the Native Americans, and in the article Haas discusses the purpose of these belts when she says they “...have extended human memories of inherited knowledges through interconnected, nonlinear designs and associative storage and retrieval methods- long before the “discovery” of Western hypertext.” (Haas 2). Here, I believe that Haas was essentially saying that these Wampum belts extended and stored human memories and thoughts way before the so-called “discovery” of Western hypertext. To me that specific sentence by Haas is a prominent example of her main argument throughout her article Wampum as Hypertext.
I loved reading the piece by Angela Haas, the quote she opened with " We do not weave the web of life; we are merely a strand in it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves." is a great reflection of much of what we have been talking about in class all semester. I like the message that this sends, that we are all apart of a bigger picture in this world. And more importantly that what we do to ourselves does not only affect just us, but everyone else as well. Many people speak about one person leaving a positive impact on the world, but what also has to be remembered is that any person can leave a negative impact as well, and it will affect anyone after them. Looking now at the information about wampum in the article i was shocked to know how many uses it had and how much work goes into creating a usable bead. It was interesting to learn that the same bead used for wars or to claim alliances was also used as a marriage proposal, this shows just how versatile Native Americans are with their natural resources. I also liked that the wampum belts were used as a kind of contract, in the sense that if someone was offered the belt with a message or responsibility, by accepting the belt they also accepted whatever responsibility or message was attached. It was interesting to learn about how one item can have so much importance in an entire culture.
I found the article on how Native Americans communities used wampum belts as, “hyper textual of inherited knowledge’s through interconnected, nonlinear designs and associative storage and retrieval methods—long before the “discovery” of Western hypertext,” (Hass, 2). I find it fascinating how they were able to think of this, it is something I would never have thought of doing. Using what they had around them at the time they were able to create their own technology. Using material around them, inner calm shells as beads, bark, and hemp fiber they were able to create a belt. Knowing this is something I probably wouldn’t come up with on my own is one thing, but from viewing the pictures this isn’t just a simple belt. It was designed with patterns and colors. They took their time and to actually create something.
Hypertexts for Native Americans were used as digital and visual rhetoric. This means that they used code to commute with one another. This is why the belt would have so much meaning. It had to precise to get the right message across. The different color on the belt is how they communicated visually. The dark and light color had different meaning.
I find this kind of rhetoric interesting because it is more of what I had excepted when learning about Native Americans. I thought they this would be a form of communication, and it is one that we haven’t look at to a full extent. I think it is interesting how Native Americans use visuals as a form of rhetoric. These examples also showed how smart Native Americans are and were, considering the stereotype that they were incapable of learning. They were able to understand technology long before anyone else.
Native Writing and Rhetoric
Throughout this class I have found myself increasingly drawn to seeking a way to define rhetoric. In the beginning of our reading assignments, I remember reading that rhetoric can be defined as anything used to derive meaning. The Native American concept of employing art as a means of deriving that meaning is both effective and captivating. It reminds me of the phrase “to instruct and delight” which is a foundational concept we discussed in my Survey of British Literature class. The idea behind this phrase is that literature is supposed to be employed to evoke pleasure while serving a didactic purpose. Native American art and handiwork serves both purposes. Additionally, many of the Native American work is employed in everyday use, such as baskets and pots.
The concept of folk art was very interesting to me because I had never heard of “folk” being conveyed as a communal process by an individual who posesses a “limited individualism.” Roberts states, “art scholars emphasize that folk art forms"represent the shared tastes and experiences of living
cultures more than they demonstrate the unique strides of particular brilliant artists."(Toelken, 2003,p. 196) This concept is so different from our Euro-American concepts of individuality and self-importance. Native American culture respects individuality, but their handiwork is something which is representative of their community as a whole. I think that this relates back to the idea that their art helps derive meaning because native culture employs communal experience to understand the world around them in everything that they do.
November 25, 2014
Wampum as a Hypertext and Visual Folk art
I really enjoyed Haas’ piece Wampum as a Hypertext. Art has such a great power-especially the power to tell a story. When introducing the wampum beads they are described as “a small, short, tubular bead, made from the quahog clam shell” (Haas 78). When being described in such a way, the power that it holds can be easily over looked. To a non-native outsider they can be seen a just some beads however they are so important to Native people, their culture and their history. In regards to the Wampum beads, merely the color of the beads alone can portray so much as well as honor different individuals and aspects of the culture: “Surrounded by the white wampum honor beads that lay the path for the continuance of our culture and language, the purple wampum beads remind us of the survival of some but the genocide of thousands“ (Haas 77). These belts hold memories, history, and knowledge within its confines. Just as the Native people culture as history as a whole, wampum offers many layers of stories and cultural history that can be either woven other or taken apart by its viewers: “Wampum similarly offers a layered writing and reading experience, as wampum can communicate more than one story, as meaning is layered in the materials with the technology and digital rhetoric” (Haas 88). It is truly outstanding how much can be learned about the Native peoples, their alliances, and culture as a whole through their artwork.
Just as the Wampum beads and the story they hold can be overlooked by non-native people, the word folk art I often misunderstood by different cultures because of its many meanings. Kathleen Roberts describes folk art as “the particular genre of human creativity that emphasizes artistic process, cultural tradition, and limited individualism” (Roberts 153). In using this definition, folk art was so important to the native people, whether it be their beadwork, writing, or detailed pottery. However, all of these works of folk art cannot be folk art without the process of creation.
Space to comment on the readings for each class...