Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Holiday Recipe #3 - Candied Sweet Potatoes

Candied Sweet Potatoes with Walnuts, Cranberries, and Marshmallowettes
(From the film What's Cooking?)

8 med. sweet potatoes
4 Tbsp. butter
1 c. dark brown sugar
¾ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. nutmeg
½ c. white grape juice
½ c. walnuts
½ c. whole cranberries
½ c. mini marshmallows   

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Peel the potatoes and cut them into 2" disks. Place them in a large pot with enough water to cover and cook until boiling; reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes or so, until the potatoes are fork tender. Drain, and place in a large oven-proof casserole dish.
  3. Melt the butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan, and stir in the salt, pepper, nutmeg, and grape juice. Pour the mixture over the potatoes. Arrange a walnut, a cranberry or two, and a marshmallow in and around each potato for decorative effect. Bake for 50–60 minutes. Remove from oven and serve immediately.

Yield: 10 –12 servings

In case you missed Recipes #1 & #2, click here to learn how to make a delicious Organic Turkey and Oyster and Shiitake Mushroom Stuffing from the authors of Cooking with the Movies: Meals on Reels.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Delicious Holiday Recipes!

Thanksgiving has come and gone, but that shouldn't mean that an entire year has to go by before we can enjoy turkey, stuffing, and all the other delicious holiday fare once again. Over the next two weeks, we'll be sharing some of the amazing recipes from authors Anthony Chiffolo and Rayner (Rusty) Hesse, Jr., and their book Cooking with the Movies: Meals on Reels, so you can enjoy the tastes of Thanksgiving all holiday season.


For this year's Thanksgiving feast, we (well, mostly Rusty) prepared a luscious organic turkey with oyster and shiitake mushroom stuffing. This is one of the turkeys shown in the film What's Cooking? and is featured in a chapter on the movie in our book Cooking with the Movies: Meals on Reels.

For those who would like to enjoy the meal vicariously—and, next year, perhaps in actuality—here are the recipes:

Organic Turkey

1 20–24 lb. fresh organic turkey
½ c. melted butter
½ c. dried sage
½ c. dried tarragon
¼ c. paprika
2 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. lime pepper
1 tsp. salt
mushroom stuffing (see next)
½ c. water
1 pkg. fresh spinach leaves


  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Wash the turkey inside and out, making sure to remove the neck and giblets that are usually stuffed inside the cavity of the bird. Pat dry. Place in a large roasting pan on sheets of aluminum foil set perpendicular to one another so that the pan is completely covered and there is enough foil left to lift the bird from the pan when holding all sides. Stuff the turkey just before placing it in the oven as per the instructions that follow. Pour the melted butter over the top of the turkey. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a small bowl, then spoon them over the bird, making sure to cover the legs as well as the breast. Pour the water around the sides of the turkey, and bake uncovered for 4–5 hours, basting about every 20–30 minutes with its own juices. (If desired, test with a meat thermometer to ensure that it is thoroughly cooked [165°F for inner breast, 180°F for the legs] and safe to serve.)
  3. Remove turkey from the oven and let it stand for 20–30 minutes before slicing. Place the turkey on a large serving tray that has been completely laid out with spinach leaves as decoration (presentation is everything!).

Yield: 15–18 servings

Mrs. Williams’s Special Oyster and Shiitake Mushroom Stuffing

2 c. hot water
1 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
1¾ lb. bread, crust trimmed, cubed
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
3 leeks, chopped
1 c. shallots, chopped
1¼ lb. oyster mushrooms
½ lb. Shiitake mushrooms
2 c. celery, chopped
1 c. dry hazelnuts, chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh sage
salt and pepper to taste
2 eggs, beaten
¾ c. chicken stock


  1. Combine hot water and porcini mushrooms in a bowl. Let stand until mushrooms are soft, about 30 minutes. Drain, reserving liquid. Chop porcini mushrooms. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 325°F. Bake cubed bread on baking sheets until brown, about 15 minutes. Cool, then transfer to a large bowl.
  3. Melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add leeks, shallots, and oyster and Shiitake mushrooms. Sauté until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Mix in the celery and porcini mushrooms and sauté another 5 minutes. Transfer mixture to the bowl with the bread cubes. Mix in the hazelnuts and sage. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the eggs and chicken stock. Stuff into turkey.
  4. Any stuffing that remains, spoon into a buttered baking dish, covered with buttered foil. Bake stuffing in dish alongside turkey until heated through, about 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until top is crisp, about 15 minutes.

Yield: 12 servings

The lusciousness of an organic turkey is a real treat for the taste buds. Cooking is the same as for any other turkey, but an organic bird will be a bit more costly. Still, it’s worth the extra expense.

The meal continued with some wonderful vegetable dishes: sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, and "wilted" lettuce. Check back soon for these recipes!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Kids, Sports, and Concussion: A Guide for Coaches and Parents

Sidney Crosby, one of the most valuable players in the NHL and only 24 years of age, returned to the ice on Monday night after over spending 10 long months recovering from post-concussion symptoms after being hit in a game early in the year. The NFL started off the 2011-12 season with new regulations to protect against head injuries, limiting the amount of full-contact practice that a player can participate in. And in a close call in the 2011 Little League World Series, a teenage pitcher from Huntington Beach, California, was saved from what could have been a deadly line drive to the forehead by only the bill of his hat.

Concussions in sports have not only the potential to be career-ending, but also can have life-altering side effects. Youth sports are meant to be fun, and with the number of kids who play sports in the United States in the millions, knowing what to do in the event of a concussion and how to help prevent them is extremely vital to the safety of young athletes.

Below is an excerpt from the introduction to Kids, Sports, and Concussion: A Guide for Coaches and Parents by William Paul Meehan III, MD. Meehan is director of the Sports Concussion Clinic in the Division of Sports Medicine at Children's Hospital Boston, MA, and instructor of pediatrics and orthopedics at Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA.


We were in the heart of the rugby scrum. A 20-year-old lock playing for Boston College was struck in the head by the mighty kick of an opponent. As the ball was released, he staggered away toward the wrong end of the field before collapsing to the ground. He rose unsteadily, only to collapse again. Finally, he rose to his feet and began sprinting, in an attempt to rejoin the play. But he was running in the wrong direction, away from ball. He fell one last time, only to be helped off of the field by his teammates.

“What’s the matter with him,” hollered the coach.
“He’s all right,” came the reply. “He just got his bell rung.”
And that was how it was.
We got “shaken up” or “had our bells rung.” We simply “shook it off,” “toughed it out,” or “walked it off.” The word concussion was rarely used. When it was used, it was mostly for athletes who were knocked unconscious for longer than a few seconds. Many times, we returned to the game in which we were injured. Often, we returned while still experiencing headaches, ringing in the ears, and other symptoms.

So why all the concern nowadays? What was it that changed the way sport-related concussion is diagnosed and managed? Why is the media constantly reporting stories about concussion in young athletes?

Five main medical findings change the way we think about sport-related concussion:
1. Concussion results in measurable brain dysfunction, which lasts for several days, weeks, or even months in some athletes.
2. This brain dysfunction often persists, even after the athlete reports being symptom-free.
3. Athletes who sustain one concussion are at increased risk of sustaining more concussions in the future.
4. The effects of multiple concussions are cumulative.
5. There may be long-term effects, only revealed later in life, that result from sustaining multiple concussions earlier in an athlete’s career.

These recent medical findings have led to a relatively rapid change in the way doctors and other clinicians think about sport-related concussions and concussive brain injury in general. This rapid change in thinking has generated a lot of attention, not only in the medical literature but also in the popular media.

When many of us were growing up, a concussion was not thought to be a serious injury. Athletes often laughed and joked about it. Certainly few people believed that there were any long-term effects or brain dysfunction that could result from a concussion or even multiple concussions.

Kids, Sports, and Concussion: A Guide for Coaches and Parents
William Paul Meehan III, MD
Praeger, April 2011

These days, we know that a concussion results in a true, measurable, loss of brain function, that can persist, even after athletes feel that they are completely recovered. Furthermore, we know that sustaining multiple concussions over the course of one's career can lead to more permanent brain dysfunction, depression, and other problems. This sudden change in thinking has left many athletes, parents, coaches, and others confused. Kids, Sports, and Concussion will help clarify the medical and scientific data that has resulted in this change of thinking. In doing so, this book will answer the following questions:

• What is a concussion?
• How common is concussion?
• Can an athlete prevent a concussion?
• What is the best way to assess a concussion?
• What can be done to treat a concussion?
• When is it safe to return to playing after a concussion?
• What are the risks of suffering multiple concussions?

In addition, readers of this book will learn how they can respond to a concussed athlete, as well as what they should expect from medical personnel tending to a concussed athlete. For those readers interested in starting a comprehensive concussion management program in their area, this book contains some recommendations on how to proceed. Lastly, the book concludes with several athletes describing, in their own words, their experiences with concussions.

At the end of each chapter is a list of suggested readings for those readers who may wish to learn more about the topics covered within the chapter. Many of these readings are medical or scientific articles, often those referred to in the chapter. While these articles may use some medical and scientific jargon, I believe the overall principles can be appreciated, even without scientific or medical training.

Monday, November 21, 2011

History and the Headlines: Native American Heritage Month

Focus on Treaties for Native American Heritage Month

 During the month of November, the United States commemorates National Native American Heritage Month, which recognizes the rich culture and historical importance of the indigenous peoples who first settled this land. Many events taking place during National Native American Heritage Month, such as Minnesota's "Why Treaties Matter" traveling exhibit, honor the different tribes who have shaped this country while acknowledging the challenges that Native Americans have faced and their complex relationship with the United States.

Help your students test their knowledge of treaties and develop critical thinking skills with reliable reference content and primary sources that you have come to expect from ABC-CLIO. Content includes:
  • An insightful introductory Need to Know essay that provides an overview of the history and significance of the treaty making process.
  • A thought-provoking Examine section that tests students' knowledge of treaties and promotes critical thinking through primary source analysis.
  • Over 150 reference entries, primary source documents, and images that offer students a unique opportunity to enhance their understanding of Native American treaties.  
Simply click here to get started!

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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Celebrating Geography Awareness Week, November 13-19

By Reuel R. Hanks

As a professor of geography, I am sometimes asked how I became interested in the subject. For quite some time, this struck me as an odd question, since the answer seemed obvious: if one is sentient and observant of the world, one is by default interested in geography. Unlike Antoine de Saint Euxpery’s geographer in The Little Prince, real geographers are not only concerned with “eternal things,” but also with the daily patterns of all that surrounds us, and how these change across space and time. There is indeed a geographic “adventure in your community” to be had, if you simply consider the where, how and why behind the features encountered every day. To be a geographer, one needs only an awareness of “place,” a notion that represents the totality of the features that identify, characterize, and shape a location.

Such an awareness is vital, because even at a local scale it leads to a greater comprehension of a globalizing world. Those who have a weak knowledge and understanding of the world around them are destined to be at a disadvantage, both professionally and personally. Geography provides the fundament for such understanding. For the past several decades, studies have shown that American students, and the general public, lack a solid grounding in geography. When tested about their knowledge of other peoples and countries, for example, Americans typically rank near the bottom when compared to most Europeans. Some have explained this as simply the result of North America’s relative isolation, the fact that the country borders on only two other states, one of which is primarily English-speaking and shares a similar culture, and other factors, most of which, ironically enough, are geographic.

Learn more about Hanks' new book here.

Yet these excuses are no longer acceptable, or even relevant. Physical distances, in the age of modern transportation systems, have become a secondary consideration, and contact with the remainder of the world is no longer dependent on actual travel, although visiting other locations is certainly an excellent way to learn about them. In the era of the Internet and globalization, we can no longer think in terms of the world being “out there somewhere.” It is here and now, often right outside our doors, perhaps even in our homes. The things we eat and drink, the vehicles we use for transportation, even the clothing we wear all come to us from “out there.” A failure to appreciate this diminishes us both intellectually and culturally.

2011 marks the twenty-fifth year we have celebrated Geography Awareness Week in the United States. Since 1987, when the first such observance took place, almost 30 new independent states have appeared on the world map (including one just this year), a single currency has been adopted by nearly as many European countries, and Global Positioning Satellites (GPS) have made it possible for anyone to pinpoint any location on the planet. Yet in 2006, five years after U.S. forces began fighting in Afghanistan and almost twenty years after the first Geography Awareness Week, a survey of young Americans found that ninety percent could not locate that country on a map. There’s still a long way to go for educators in raising geographic awareness—let it begin with an adventure in your community.


Reuel R. Hanks, PhD, is professor of geography at Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK. He has taught courses on human and regional geography for more than 25 years. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Interview with Darryl V. Caterine, author of "Haunted Ground"

ABC-CLIO's interview with Darryl V. Caterine, author of Haunted Ground: Journeys through a Paranormal America

Q: What prompted you to write Haunted Ground?

A: There were at least four reasons why I wanted to write a book on the paranormal in America. The first reason simply has to do with the fact that there are relatively few scholarly books on the subject. There are many good studies of specific movements, such as Spiritualism, but not so many on the "paranormal" as a whole.

I have also been studying and writing about similar phenomena in the Latin American and Latino context for years. People tend to forget that Catholicism south of the U.S. border and in the Caribbean is full of miraculous, supernatural, or paranormal activity. Interest in such phenomena has to do with the fact that Christianity in these cultures has been changed by its encounter with African and Native American beliefs and practices. There is still today a strong belief in many Latino communities in the intercession of the saints to perform miracles in everyday life. Veneration of, and even communication with, the ancestors is also prevalent in some communities, while healing practices derived from Native American and medieval Spanish societies thrive in others. So it was really just a small step to go from the study of Latino Catholicism, particularly as it is practiced outside of the institutional church, and interest in the paranormal in the U.S.

One of the reasons I became attracted to the study of religion in the first place had to do with the radically different worldviews that religious cultures preserve and celebrate. Unfortunately, in the United States context there has been a trend in the mainstream churches for the last few centuries to make religion look more "respectable" in modern eyes, which often entails ridding it of "superstitious" beliefs and practices—like a belief in the active participation of the supernatural or other-than-human in this world. So in order to get to these beliefs in a North American society like the U.S., I had to study something a little outside of the orbit of this mainstream religious universe. Interest in the paranormal seemed like an obvious choice.

Finally, I wanted to write a book that moved the whole discussion of the paranormal from the margins to the center of American religion. As I discuss in my book, the kinds of questions that the paranormal raises get right into the thick of what it means to be a modern person. The significant issue is not simply that 75 percent of Americans "believe in" the paranormal. The significant issue is that this widespread interest means that people are thinking critically about the maps of reality that mainstream religion, science, mass media and academe are giving them -- and finding that none of these "maps" are completely accurate or meaningful.

Q: You chose 3 "groups" to study: Ufologists, spiritualists, and dowsers—what points of commonality did you discover? How are they "religious"?

A: The big commonality between Ufologists, Spiritualists, and dowsers was a fascination they shared with the nature of Nature. At first this might sound a little abstract, so let's make another, quick comparison with the Latino Catholic example. In Latino cultures, when something out of the ordinary happens—let's say, a highly improbable recovery from a terminal illness—people find a place for it in a supernatural or other-worldly understanding of the world. It was the intercession of the Virgin of Guadalupe, or the grace of an African orisha, or the activity of a saint. But in the communities that I studied, the supernatural is usually not the place where people put extraordinary experience. Instead, they assume it has something to do with the nature of "Nature"—shorthand for the physical cosmos that scientists study, and also shorthand for the imagined universe in which modern people dwell. Extraordinary experiences happen to turn our commonsense notions of Nature upside down. Most scientists won't go near them, so we're left with explanations of the physical world that either deny or downplay these events. Mainstream religions do not make them a focal point of theological speculation so there's very little help there. And in our cultural mythology, we tend to forget that our love affair with Nature covers over the fact that the nation wouldn't be here if our ancestors hadn't destroyed or displaced millions of Native American peoples. The nature of Nature in the American paranormal universe is both topsy-turvy relative to scientific and religious models, and also deeply haunted by the perennial Native American ghosts.

Now these movements can be thought of as being religious in at least two important ways. First, one way of thinking about religion is as a way of relating to, and partially explaining, those people, places, and events that instill awe in us. Rudolf Otto spoke of religion as a response to the seductive and terrifying mystery. Certainly the phenomena of the paranormal fall into this category. Ghosts, UFOs, and psychic phenomena (which is one way of thinking about how dowsing works) either frighten or fascinate us, or maybe do a little of both. The many ways that Americans have thought about these phenomena are responses to mystery, and are therefore "religious" in this first sense of the term.

The other way that these movements are religious lies in the kinds of questions they ask about reality. Some scholars define "religion" as an exploration of what is ultimately meaningful or real— whether or not it includes the supernatural. Our culture's interest in the paranormal are certainly religious in this second sense of the term. Spiritualists want to know if there is some way of empirically knowing if consciousness survives the experience of death. Ufologists want to know if we are alone in the universe—or if this is the only universe that exists. Dowsers want to know if we are connected with each other and with the earth in ways that neither modern religion nor science have yet articulated. These are questions about ultimate matters; their answers shed light on our purpose here on earth, and what priorities our society should be setting for itself. These are just a few of the religious types of questions that interest in the paranormal raises.

Q: What was the highlight of your research?

A: I would have to say that the highlight of my research was the permission I felt in the various gatherings to ask questions outside of the conventional academic boxes. There was a way in which the research unleashed my creativity, not only to ask questions about religion and spirituality, but to think of my place in the world as a modern American. And as I write about in my book, these places are designed to inspire just this kind of experience. They are truly carnivals in the classic sense of the term: not merely places of entertainment or distraction, but places that encourage visitors to turn their commonplace notions of reality upside-down and inside-out. In this sense, paranormal gatherings are to the modern American nation what medieval European carnivals were to the Roman Catholic Church. Scholars in my field talk quite a bit about "liminality" or "anti-structural" places. If you really want to have a liminal experience, spend some time immersed in Lily Dale, or the Roswell UFO Festival, or the dowsing convention.

Q: In the course of your research, what discovery surprised you the most?

A: My major breakthrough, which did come as a surprised and freed me up to write the book, was that people who spend their lives immersed in the paranormal are very closely related to professional academics. In other words, my surprise was that they and I were basically doing the same thing: trying to figure out where we are, and what we are, as modern people—and then spinning out different kinds of narratives to make sense out of potential chaos.

Q: How did your research change your outlook on religion or spirituality?

A: Taking seriously some of the paranormal data, as well as the kinds of questions they raise, gave me an appreciation of how antiquated our religious maps of the world are. I don't intend this remark to be hostile; in fact, I am nostalgic for the days when religion perhaps could address all of our most burning questions of meaning. But we seem to be living in an era—and here I mean a long span of time that began hundreds of years ago—where we have to be content to live with a relatively high degree of cosmological incoherence. At one point in my book I refer to "spiritual homelessness." It would be nice to say that everything in heaven and on earth has a place in our philosophy or religion, but that does not seem to be the case, especially when you start looking into how much we do not know.

Q: What's next for you?

A: My next academic book will continue some of the issues raised in Haunted Ground, but in a more theoretical key. I'd like to trace the eclipse of the "supernatural" in modern western religion and the rise of the "paranormal" that came, for many people, to replace it. This story begins, I believe, with the cultural debate over the exorcisms of the German Catholic priest Johann Joseph Gassner, and the healing practices of Franz Anton Mesmer. They were both doing very similar types of work, but Mesmer "naturalized the supernatural," carving out an in-between space between science and religion. This odd quasi-scientific and quasi-religious way of looking at the world is the paranormal. As I hope I've shown in this last book, the ghost of Mesmer is still alive and well and haunting us today.


Check out this MSNBC piece on our fascination with the paranormal, featuring Darryl Caterine.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Interview with "Vampires Today" author Joseph Laycock

Q: What prompted you to write Vampires Today?

A: I describe this research as “a crime of opportunity.” I happened to be living in Atlanta when I learned about the Atlanta Vampire Alliance (AVA). When I approached them, they had some initial concerns that I was going to portray them as “cultists” or as mentally ill. But soon I had a working relationship with the vampires. What interested me about the AVA was not that they identified as vampires but that they had invested so much time in studying their own community. They have completed a massive survey project of nearly 1000 vampires. Religious groups and the mentally ill are normally not compelled to undergo rigorous self-analysis. The AVA were something different.

Q: Among the "groups" you studied, what points of commonality did you discover? How are they "religious" or "spiritual"?

A: For most of the vampires I spoke with, vampirism is a health issue: They feel they must “feed,” either on blood or human energy, or their physical, mental, and spiritual well-being deteriorates. Some vampires feel that their condition will one day be understood by medical science. Others see vampirism as metaphysical and some even belong to small religious movements with their own beliefs and ethical tenets about vampirism.

Q: What was the highlight of your research?

A: The highlight was making new friends. There are very few “boring” vampires. Everyone I met had interesting hobbies, skills, and stories. How often do you have dinner with a group of people that can design software, give a therapeutic massage, and forge a broadsword?

Q: In the course of your research, what discovery surprised you the most?

A: Vampires have constructed a meaningful identity for themselves. The creation of a new identity group affects an entire society––myself included. I think of myself as “white” because I am aware of racial identities. I think of myself as “Catholic” because I am aware of religious identities. Now, I think of myself as a “non-vampire” because I am aware of vampire identities. These issues of identity construction appear to be behind the more vitriolic attacks on the vampire community. Since I wrote Vampires Today, I have seen a number of blogs and Internet postings dismissing the vampire community as “freaks,” “insane,” etc. Beneath this anger seems to be a fear of what would happen if vampires were not considered insane. This is far more frightening to people than the vampires themselves. Most people like to take their categories for granted and do not like being reminded that the world could be ordered in a different way.

Q: How did your research change your outlook on religion or spirituality?

A: Vampires force us to reassess our definitions of religion and spirituality. When most people hear about vampires, they assume vampirism must be a “religion.” However, the majority of vampires do not consider vampirism to be a religion. Some vampires are atheists and deny that there is anything spiritual about their vampirism. Religion scholars do not have an agreed upon definition of what religion is. When analyzing vampires, the question is not “is this a religion?” but “in what sense is this religious?” It was especially interesting to compare vampires’ descriptions of how feeding made them feel with accounts of religious and mystical experiences. Many vampires described feelings of euphoria, peace, and heightened awareness after consuming blood or energy.

Q: Vampires are everywhere in popular culture: how have people reacted to your book?

A: Since Vampires Today came out, I have been approached by scores of newspapers, radio shows, and documentaries as well as Good Morning America, MTV, MSNBC, Geraldo at Large, The Colbert Report, NPR, The Dr. Phil Show, The Dr. Drew Show, and Anderson Cooper. Usually these shows contact me hoping I can get a vampire to appear on their program. Most vampires will not do interviews, both because television tends to sensationalize them with scary music and bad puns, and because they have suffered serious consequences when they are “outed” by the media. I have become a kind of bridge between the media and a community that is often unable to speak for itself.

Vampires Today has also been cited by a growing group of academics interested in the connection between religion and popular culture. This is exciting because academics have begun to ask new and important questions about this community. As a researcher, my goal is not to have “fifteen minutes of fame” on a talk show but to push the academic dialogue forward.

Q: What surprises people the most about your research?

A: Most people are surprised to hear that many vampires are ordinary, sane, productive members of society. I have met vampires who are grandmothers, police and military, and medical technicians. I have even met a vampire who graduated from Harvard Divinity School, where I received my master’s degree. You may already know someone who identifies as a vampire.

Q: What's next for you?

A: Scholars of American religion naturally focus on the most important religious movements, especially the mainline Protestant and evangelical traditions. I am interested in expanding this picture by looking at groups that have been ignored by researchers and historians. My next book will concern apparitions of the Virgin Mary and a woman named Veronica Lueken. Veronica lived in Queens, New York and began having visions of the end of the world in the 1970s. At her peak, she attracted thousands of followers around the world. There are six books of her prophecies available that most religion scholars have never examined. I have looked at this material as well as church documents and letters from the 1970s. Lueken and her followers are another group that is worth examining instead of pushing into the corner.


Related Blog Post: Author Guest Post -- Joe Laycock on Real Life Vampires

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Death Knell of the Pan-Indian Confederacy

November 7, 2011, marks the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Tippecanoe. The engagement pitted some 1,000 regular and militia troops under Indiana governor William Henry Harrison against approximately 500–750 Indians led by Tenskwatawa, also known as the Shawnee Prophet. For several years previous to the battle, Tenskwatawa and his brother, Tecumseh, had worked to create a pan-Indian confederacy to oppose Anglo-American westward expansion and preserve traditional ways of life. The defeat at Tippecanoe irrevocably weakened the confederacy, which disbanded completely some two years later. This excerpt from Dr. Spencer C. Tucker's Encyclopedia of North American Indian Wars recounts the details of this historic battle.
The warriors left Prophetstown during the night, and by 4:00 a.m. on November 7 they had surrounded Harrison’s camp. One of the American sentinels, Stephen Mars, heard movement in the darkness and fired a shot or two before fleeing for the safety of the camp. He was killed before he could reach it, but his shot alerted Harrison's men. The Indians then let out war whoops and opened fire. The battle opened first on the northwest side of the camp. Unfortunately for Harrison's men, when they rose many were silhouetted against their campfires, making them easy targets. Harrison himself mounted and rode to the sound of the firing. His own white horse had broken its tether during the night, and he rode a dark one. This probably saved his life, for the natives were looking for him on a white horse. (Harrison’s aide Colonel Abraham Owen, who found and rode Harrison’s white horse, was shot and killed.) Firing then broke out on the east side of the camp, and the battle became general. During the battle, the Prophet stationed himself on a high rock to the east and chanted war songs to encourage his followers. Informed early that some of his warriors had been slain, the Prophet insisted that his followers fight on, promising an easy victory.
After two hours of fighting and when it was sufficiently light, Harrison sent out mounted men to attack the natives on their flanks. Soon the natives were in retreat. In the battle, Harrison lost 68 men killed and 126 wounded, a significant casualty rate of up to a quarter of his force. The number of Native American dead is not known for certain. Thirty-seven bodies were found at the battle site, but this did not account for those who were carried off or died later from their wounds. Native American losses are estimated at no fewer than 50 killed and 70 or more wounded.
About the author

A Senior Fellow in Military History for ABC-Clio Publishing since 2003, Dr. Spencer C. Tucker has been instrumental in establishing ABC-CLIO as the premier military history reference publisher in the country. Spence's interest in military history began while he was a student at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) and was enhanced by a Fulbright Fellowship in France and while serving as a captain in military intelligence in the Pentagon during the Vietnam War. Although he concentrated on Modern European History in his graduate studies, he became interested in all periods of military history. Spence taught at the university and college level for 36 years, 30 of these at Texas Christian University and the last 6 as holder of the John Biggs Chair of Military History at VMI. Spence is particularly excited to be the editor of ABC-CLIO's award-winning series of war encyclopedias, which includes The Encyclopedia of North American Indian Wars, 1607–1890: A Political, Social, and Military History.


The Encyclopedia of North American Indian Wars, 1607–1890: 
A Political, Social, and Military History
Edited by Spencer C. Tucker

This encyclopedia provides a broad, in-depth, and multidisciplinary look at the causes and effects of warfare between whites and Native Americans, encompassing nearly three centuries of history.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Genetic Genealogy

You've likely heard of DNA tests for paternity lawsuits, crime scene investigation, and even medical conditions; but did you know genetic tests can help you learn more about your family tree?

For many, genetic testing has become a great way to enhance genealogical studies.
This is the focus of the 7th Genetic Genealogy Conference for Family Tree DNA Group Administrators in Houston, beginning November 4, where many of the emerging ethical issues with DNA testing will be addressed.

It is also the topic of discussion at the Fountaindale Public Library in Chicago on November 10, where David Dowell will present Adding DNA Testing to Your Genealogical Tool Kit.

Dowell is the author of the highly praised Crash Course in Genealogy, published earlier this year by Libraries Unlimited, and is currently working on a book on genetic genealogy. You can follow him on his blog, Dr. D Digs Up Ancestors.

Crash Course in Genealogy
David R. Dowell

A basic, how-to book written primarily to prepare librarians to assist genealogy researchers, this guide can also be used by those who wish to discover and document their family histories.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

November: Revisiting Native American Heritage Month!

By Loriene Roy
(Enrolled: White Earth Reservation; Member: Minnesota Chippewa Tribe), Professor, School of Information, The University of Texas at Austin

Fall arrives with children and adults returning to schools. Those living on Turtle Island (North America) move into the season of changing weather, tree color, and harvest. As the month of November looms, families plan their homecoming, often associated with a celebration they call Thanksgiving. In the midst of menu planning and the football season, it is easy to forget that November is officially Native American Heritage Month. A year ago, I shared some ideas on how to commemorate this month by learning more about Native cultures. This year, I am revisiting this topic, adding a few more resources and ideas and providing an update on topics introduced a year ago. Remember that your first stop for assistance in locating these resources—and pursing any topic more in depth—is your local public library!

My colleagues working at the National Museum of the American Indian, the Smithsonian library next to the National Air and Space Museum on the National Mall in Washington, DC, tell me that they often over hear adult visitors to the museum telling younger visitors that “American Indians do not exist anymore.” Perhaps this speaks to the fact that most people only think of Native peoples in the context of a museum collection of artifacts. It behooves all of us to remember that there are over 500 tribal nations within the geographic borders of the United States. And, members of tribal nations live in every state; two-thirds live away from tribal homelands.

Your local community might sponsor events this fall that focus on introducing or celebrating Native cultures. In my current home town of Austin, Texas, we celebrate our powwow with dances, educational programs, and food and vendor stalls. In November, the Windsor Park Branch of the Austin Public Library is hosting a documentary film series and panel discussion featuring “We Still Live Here,” a film about language recovery among the Wampanoag Nation of Massachusetts. Check your local programming for similar events—or consider planning your own!


Last year I shared my “Ten To Watch” list of Native authors. Today I am adding an update with some news on these authors’ more recent activities. In addition, I am highlighting recent read including those by a well-known American Indian author, and a Maori librarian’s acclaimed first picture book.

• Sherman Alexie (Spokane/Coeur d'Alene) is now on Twitter where you can read such heart-stopping comments as, “In the library of my heart, the books are all large-print.” Sherman announces his latest publications, including the often difficult to locate poetry, on his website.

• In 2008, Louise Erdrich and her sister, Heid Erdrich (Turtle Mountain Anishinabe), founded Wiigwaas Press, a nonprofit organization that publishes books and develops programs to promote Native language revitalization. In 2010, Wiigwaas Press published Awesiinyensag, a collection of stories written in the Anishinaabemowin language for children. This fall, Awesiinyensag was selected by the Center of the Book at the Library of Congress as Minnesota’s Best Read for 2011.

• Wesleyan University Press has just published a book of interviews of Joy Harjo (Muskogee Creek). SoulTalk, Song Language is available in hardcover and as an e-book. Find out more about Harjo’s activities, including her nominations for music and book awards, at

• Anita Heiss’s (Wiradjuri Nation, Australia) latest chick-lit novel is Paris Dreaming, published by Random House Books Australia in January 2011. Heiss received the outstanding achievement in literature award at the 2011 Deadly Awards in September 2011. The Deadly Awards recognizes achievements by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Heiss’s blog is a hot item. Huge interest was registered with her April 23, 2011 posting, “Anita’s Black Book Challenge (BBC),” on which she posted “Anita’s 100 (less one) Black Book Choice List” of her top titles by Aboriginal writers.

• Leslie Marmon Silko’s (Pueblo of Laguna/Cherokee) latest book is her memoir, The Turquoise Ledge (New York: Penguin, 2010). You can read—or listen—to a review of this book by Alan Cheuse at NPR

• Cynthia Leitich Smith's (Muskogee Creek) young adult novel, Tantalize, was reissued as a graphic novel, Tantalize: Kieren’s Story (New York: Candlewick Press, 2011). Smith, who hosts a popular blog on children’s and young adult (YA) literature recently signed a three-book contract, including a novel, Smolder.

• Larry Loyie (Creek; Canada) is in the midst of writing his next YA novel, building on his autobiography, Goodbye Buffalo Bay (Oroville, Washington: Theytus Books, 2008). Loyie and his partner, Constance Brissenden, have completed over 1,200 school visits, talking with students, educators, and librarians about writing and First Nations history and issues.

• Navajo poet, Luci Tapahonso, is featured on a University of Arizona YouTube video. Her collections of poetry include Blue Horses Rush In (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1997).

• Tim Tingle’s (Choctaw) latest picture book, Saltypie: A Choctaw Journey From Darkness Into Light (El Paso: Cinco Puntos Press) was selected as a 2011 Notable Book by the American Library Association. Tingle’s writing is included in the following well received anthology: Dembicki, Matt, ed. Trickster: Native American Tales: A Graphic Collection. Golden, CO: Fulcrum Books, 2010.

Finally, here are some notes about authors or writing initiatives that were not covered last year.

• Well-known Abenaki writer, Joseph Bruchac has a new YA novel: Wolf Mark. New York: Lee & Low, 2011.

• James Bartleman (Chippewa, Rama First Nation), the first First Nations Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario, published his first novel, As Long as the Rivers Flow (Toronto: Random House, 2011), a story of the impact of the residential school system on one First Nations family.

• Chris Szekely (Maori librarian) has published his first work of fiction, a picture book titled, Rāhui (Wellington, New Zealand: Huia Publishers, 2011). A trailer of Rāhui is available on YouTube.

• For those seeking board books, books for the youngest readers and their caretakers, check out the series published by Native Northwest. The books feature artwork by a number of First Nations artists and includes Learn the Alphabet with Northwest Coast Native Art and Sharing Our World: Animals of the Native Northwest Coast.

• For readers interested in more academic writing, check out the First Peoples: New Directions in Indigenous Studies initiative. For those wanting to keep with politics and timely content impacting Native peoples. Check out Paul DeMain’s Native News Updates webcasts aired as “IndianCountryTV." DeMain sends alerts on Facebook when he posts new episodes.