Keep Oregon Historical Society budget intact

Lack of access to our state’s historical documents diminishes us. Not only writers and historians suffer, but everyone who reads, or goes to school, or needs to be informed about the world prior to us. In other words, everyone.

The Oregon Historical Society is scheduled to reopen on April 2nd with drastically curtailed hours: one to five pm on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. But even those hours are tenuous. The state legislature wants to cut the OHS budget funding in half, from $2.4 million to $1.4 million.

If you think that funding this century-old institution is frivolous, consider, as local historian Michael Munk pointed out recently, that the City of Portland just voted to subsidize the wealthy owner of the local soccer team. Is a professional sports team more important than our historical heritage? Is this what we’ve come to?

There is still time to lobby your state legislators to maintain funding for the Oregon Historical Society. You can also sign the petition.

All the pretty little horses

photo by Duane Poncy
photo by Duane Poncy
We live in the old Irvington neighborhood of Portland, where most of the houses were built near the turn of the last century. Embedded in the concrete curb, in front of each house is a small iron hoop about three inches in diameter. Patty and I decided some time ago that the most likely purpose of these rings was to tie up a horse. One should remember that as late as the 1930s, a large number of people still rode horses as a primary mode of transportation.

horse 2Sometime several months ago, some enterprising artist came along, and tied up little plastic horses to the hoops all along the street. Most, if not all of the horses along our side of the street still stand there, hitched to their rings.

I have no idea who did this, or the purpose they had in mind. But it was a great idea because it caused us to think about these objects, the rings, and their historical purpose. A kind of living history lesson.

Review of 1491 by Charles Mann

This is the first comprehensive look at the people of the pre-Columbian Americas. I found the style to be very accessible and entertaining, and the book full of new information for this reader. Mann’s work here is considered to be “revisionist” in that he challenges many of the orthodoxies of anthropology and history in regard to Indigenous people. As an outsider to these disciplines –he is a journalist– he is able to filter both the new findings and the old prejudices with a more objective eye than most inside observers.

Title: 1491
Author: Charles Mann,
ISBN:1400032059
Vintage

product

A book review of 1491

This is the first comprehensive look at the people of the pre-Columbian Americas. I found the style to be very accessible and entertaining, and the book full of new information for this reader. Mann’s work here is considered to be “revisionist” in that he challenges many of the orthodoxies of anthropology and history in regard to Indigenous people. As an outsider to these disciplines –he is a journalist– he is able to filter both the new findings and the old prejudices with a more objective eye than most inside observers.

Many of his assertions are startling, and draw on the very latest findings in archeology and dna research. He paints a picture of an early hemisphere teaming with cities and villages and civilizations that compete with the so-called “cradles of civilization” in their advancements and knowledge. He also draws horrifying conclusions about the rapidity with which old world diseases wiped out the indigenous populations.

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in exploring American Indian people before contact with Europeans.

My rating: 4.0 stars
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