Many words also are used by both the Chinese and Indians, which have a resemblance to each other, not only in their sound, but their signification. The Chinese call a slave, shungo; and the Naudowessie Indians, whose language from their little intercourse with the Europeans is the least corrupted, terms a dog, shungush. The former denominate one species of tea, shousong; the latter call their tobacco, shousassau. Many other of the words used by the Indians contain the syllables che, chaw, and chu, after the dialect of the Chinese. There probably might be found a similar connection between the language of the Tartars and the American Aborigines, were we as well acquainted with it as we are, from a commercial intercourse, with that of the Chinese.
Tuesday, 26 May 2009
Friday, 22 May 2009
In it, he discusses the 'origin' of the indigenous peoples of North America and considers the views of one James Adair, who, as Carver puts it, 'resided forty years among the Indians , and published the history of them in 1772'. Adair thought the Native Americans were 'descended from the Israelites, either whilst they were a maritime power, or soon after their general captivity'. This kind of speculation is very typical of the age, but, even in its 18th-century context, the latter idea makes the mind boggle! After the 'general captivity', by which I take it Adair means the exile in Babylon, one group of Israelites, rather than making their way back to the Holy Land, went into some new kind of exile in North America?
Carver runs through the evidence that Adair cites for this view and - very interestingly from my point of view - he includes some discussion of language:
The Indian language and dialects appear to have the very idiom and genius of the Hebrew. Their words and sentences being expressive, concise, emphatical, sonorous, and bold; and often, both in letters, and signification, are synonimous with the Hebrew language.Carver himself does not agree with Adair's view and I'll write more about that later :o)
Thursday, 21 May 2009
As usual, I'm completely open to other ways of doing it - just starting the conversation :o)
Unfortunately, I can't find an online version of the map of 1697 but the Library of Congress offers digitised versions of other maps by Franquelin here, here, and here.
I particularly like the second one :o)
Tuesday, 19 May 2009
'The name sprang fresh out of his fancy, and though a few of his pedant followers were troubled that the word was not listed in their Hebrew dictionaries, most of the Saints were pleased with the choice. "Nauvoo" had the melancholy music of a mourning dove's call and somehow matched the magic of the site.'
It seems that Brodie was wrong to say that the word 'sprang fresh out of [Smith's] fancy'. It really is a Hebrew word. From what I can gather, if there's anything strange about it, it's the fact that it's transliterated using Sephardic conventions. And this is because that was the system used by Smith's Hebrew teacher, Joseph Seixas. Here is an excerpt from the relevant page of Seixas' grammar. (I 'borrowed' it from a site on Mormon apologetics.)
Seixas seems to have been an interesting character. I found an article about him in a 1993 edition of the journal, Jewish History. It's by Shalom Goldman and the introduction gives something of his life:
In the roster of prominent American Jewish apostates of the early ninteenth century Joshua/James Seixas (1802-1874) remains something of an enigma. His contemporaries, both Jewish and Christian, differed widely in their descriptions of his religious convictions and affiliations. We find him described by Jews as a convert to Christianity and by some Christians as a 'devout Jew.' Evaluations of his ability as a teacher of Hebrew and a scholar vary widely, and the researcher in search of the biographical details of Seixas' life is confronted with conflicting and confusing data. For his life was a restless one. Seixas moved around the United States in search of employment and professional satisfaction and one is struck with the feeling that the subject of our investigations deliberately obscured the details of his personal life.
With that in mind, I thought I'd record the fact that the name, Itasca, which sounds as if it might be Native American, was in fact made up Henry Schoolcraft, who traced the soure of the Mississippi to the lake. It is a blend of the Latin words verITAS (truth) and CAput (head). (The Ojibwe name is apparently Omashkoozo-zaaga'igan - Elk Lake.) It seems that Schoolcraft was given to making up names with a Native American sound. Those wonderful people at the Minnesota Historical Society have a short article on this here.
Monday, 18 May 2009
There are many layers of irony in play here, I think!
Sunday, 17 May 2009
In Nick Lichter's book about his journey down the river, The Road of Souls, he describes a plaque in Itasca State Park that commemorates the first sermon preached at the headwaters, in May 1881, by a Reverend Joseph A. Gilfillan, who had traveled "through sixty miles of wilderness from White Earth, Minnesota to conduct the ceremony." Lichter, page 6
The text he preached on was "then had thy peace been as a river." (from Isaiah 48:18)
The idea of speaking about PEACE in the context of the history of Native Americans in this region for the previous fifty years (at least?) is pretty ripe, no?!
Mississippi Blues Trail
also, I think Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited might be its own secret map of the Mississippi as well, I'll look into this soon.
I was actually wondering what you thought about signing up for a short course on canoeing or kayaking at an outdoor centre in Minnesota - say a couple of days, if we can find one? I notice that the St Cloud State University can organise training:
This might be a good opportunity to pick the brains of the instructors about the river - St Cloud being on the Mississippi they would presumably be able to give us lots of advice - and also about gear we might not have thought of. If we then headed up to Lake Itasca (I'm assuming you'd want to start from source?) we'd have a period of fairly easy paddling to get used to the canoe etc.
There seem to be quite a lot of 'outfitters' in northern Minnesota who will work out what you need for the trip etc. I don't know how much these cost but would it be a good idea to email a few of them, just to see what they say? If there are any near Lake Itasca (which I guess there must be), it might be worth starting with them.
Anyway, just a few thoughts. Very happy to do some emailing - what do you think?
Wednesday, 13 May 2009
One of the illustrations from Mary Eastman's book.
Tuesday, 12 May 2009
Having written before about hand-drawn maps I was delighted to find this beautiful one, drawn by the missionary, Samuel Pond, in 1834, when he and his brother, Gideon, first started to work in Chief Cloud Man's village near Lake Calhoun. There they devised a way of writing the Dakota language - the 'Pond-Dakota alphabet' - which seems astonishingly obliging of them, given our previous discussions about alphabets and transcription. Like a lot of missionaries, the Pond brothers went into a kind of self-imposed exile in order to bring Christianity to the people they had chosen as 'theirs' (although admittedly Fort Snelling wasn't very far away). But, a few years later, Chief Cloud Man and his people were forced into a more radical exile because of conflicts with the Ojibwe, who themselves had been displaced by settlement further east. There's a good site on the Pond brothers here.
Sunday, 10 May 2009
(Interesting that Sinclair took the title of his book, Lights Out For the Territory, from the end of Huckleberry Finn - it's what Huck does *after* his Mississippi journey.)
Then there is a journal/blog/podcast (of words, music, visual images, and whatever else) of our responses to what we experience, which is ALSO in some way an archive of exile, because we ourselves are travelers in a more or less foreign land.
I think this is a very productive idea. I'm not going to try to say much about it right now but it seems deeply important to me: exile is often profoundly painful but, as we said here (your post and my comment), adulthood is a kind of condition of exile and you have to leave the house to grow up. To make a journey and look at the world as you go, particularly the experiences of others who have made journeys under greater duress, might be a working out of that insight.
If we're going to think about memory here - and, in particular, the idea of the layering of memories onto a map, i think the fact that the journey will be a collective, collaborative, companiable experience is interesting. It might lead to a work, or a document (?), that is structured by *your* consciousness - because you'll almost certainly be the only person who makes the whole journey - but that also includes material, "memories", made by *others*. And I suspect that memory IS, in fact, like that - I don't think i made my memories all alone. Far from it. Memory is a kind of collaborative process, isn't it?
It consists of a series of recollected fragments and often he will return to the same material in a new fragment, developing it slightly or altering it a little in the way we do when we recall moments of the past. The fragments are not uniform in style - in fact they vary considerably - and again that evokes the lack of uniformity in actual memory (some memories are vivid; some are vague; some are detailed; and others are sketchy outlines). There is a pattern of assocation among the fragments, so the mention of, say, a tap in one fragment will be echoed by the mention of a tap in the next, even though the memories are otherwise unconnected. And there are sometimes multiple blocks of text on the page, bringing different fragments into some kind of assocation that is not explicit but implied by the structure of the page itself. Of course these page layouts aren't maps. But they *are* map-like in that they organise memories visually. Here's an example:
Maybe my description makes Simon's novel sound so avant-garde as to be unreadable. But the extraordinary thing about it is that it's *very* readable, despite its unusual organisation.
Thinking about a work that evokes the structure of memory in its own form made me think of Simon's novel, which has impressed me a lot.
Saturday, 9 May 2009
Regarding maps and rivers and sound, you definitely want to know about Annea Lockwood, who made a piece called A Sound Map of the Hudson River in the late 80's, and recently did one of the Danube. I really love her work.
The metaphor of making a sound map of the Mississippi is a good one: going down the river, I imagine collecting/creating multiple layers: actual sound documents of the river like Annea's, interviews like say the WPA writer's project, sound recordings of musicians like Alan Lomax. then there is a journal/blog/podcast (of words, music, visual images, and whatever else) of our responses to what we experience, which is ALSO in some way an archive of exile, because we ourselves are travelers in a more or less foreign land. (and if this project continues the way I'm fantasizing, there's a further layer created by the performances/collaborations that happen traveling back UP the river in this spring/summer of 2010.)
I think the idea that all these disparate kinds of information get layered onto a map is really rich. something about a map as a metaphor for the brain, how memory gets layered on the brain.
(and I think our informal tagging has already earned its keep!)
Friday, 8 May 2009
Having made a start, I thought it would be good to share this with you and so I've uploaded it to Google Docs and, later today, you should receive an invitation from Google to become a co-editor of the document. I'll also put a link to it in the sidebar of this blog, so it becomes a satellite of the blog rather than something totally separate. As I say, I'm thinking of this as something I particularly need to do to organise my developing knowledge, so don't feel I'm pushing you to use it. On the other hand, if you'd like to add to it, I'd be delighted!
My plan is:
1. To give the material some structure by dividing it up state by state, moving south from Minnesota to Louisiana.
2. To give it still more structure by organising the material for each state in loosely chronological order.
3. To summarise the material into bullet points of not more than 3 or 4 lines so that it remains a kind of overview and doesn't become a huge sprawling essay.
So far I've just put in seven brief points that have caught my attention over the last couple of days. Will add more as I carry on reading :o)
Tuesday, 5 May 2009
Mississippi River Challenge 
Display Date: Saturday-Sunday, July 25-26, 2009 (with volunteer shifts and check-in beginning July 24) Location: The Twin Cities stretch of the Mississippi River
The Mississippi River Challenge is a one- or two-day canoe or kayak event on the amazing Twin Cities stretch of the Mississippi River. This unique paddle was begun in 2004 by Friends of the Mississippi River to foster appreciation of the Mississippi River in the Twin Cities region and raise funds to protect it.
The Mississippi River Challenge promises a unique excursion: pass through locks, paddle with voyageurs and camp overnight inside Historic Fort Snelling! to find out more about participating in the only pledge event of its type in the upper Midwest, visit the Mississippi River Challenge Website  to find out more and sign up! Read more… 
Volunteers are critical to the success of this large-scale event. At 11 different riverfront locations along this 44-mile route, volunteers help paddlers come in off the water to refuel and refresh. You can sign up for just one three- or four-hour shift, or take two to earn free entry into the party at Fort Snelling Saturday night (a $20 value), or make a weekend of it and earn FMR SuperVolunteer status (20 hours in a year) and t-shirt. For more information, visit the Challenge volunteering page .
Saturday, 2 May 2009
I might go and have a chat with Rob, the theatre technician in our department. He's often a source of good ideas, and, if I describe the project to him, he might come up with further interesting ways to document it. Will let you know what happens...
Friday, 1 May 2009
I've looked at the introduction on google books (most of it is excluded from the preview, unfortunately) and it does talk a little about language and languages. I don't know if there's more later on in the text but at least it might point me in the direction of some interesting material...
I gather that edirol digital recorders store about 16 hours of audio in 16bit wav format or 96 hours in mp3 format. Now, I'm assuming that you'd be using something mcuh more sophisticated than that for interviews and ambient sound but I thought that, as well as the recordings you make for the work itself, it might be interesting to keep an audio diary, and mp3s would be fine for that purpose - in fact, they'd be ideal for posting on a blog as an interesting alternative to text.
I wanted to run this past you before doing anything, though. If there's equipment that you need to buy, I could put the £500 towards that instead (bearing in mind that it would belong to Sheffield University afterwards, so it would be good to use it for some discrete item). Let me know what you think.