Why Do We Have Minority History Months?

Black History Month,Asian American Month,Native American Month.Hispanic American..etc. I think that is because the real history is rarely taught. Sometimes it is taught without talking about the problems that people had in this country. Native Americans who survived the two new worlds coming together, suffered a lot that has never been taught. We don’t teach history and geography well. Many students never grasp the idea of the global exchange that is the world today.

Try this method. We have lots of ways to explore our histories today. We have technologies and books and real and virtual field trips.

USE THE DATE?

I had a teacher who used dates. She would say 1492? What was happening in the world?

We had to learn to create something that would tell her this information.  Some students would have the dates before and after.You could not just memorize the data in a book or a chapter. It was a very interesting way to learn about what was going on in the world. ( Dr. Dannie Starre Townes- Virginia State University.

We had to learn what the leading influences were in the time frame that she gave us and then we had to present it to others.

Triangle_Trade

I had a principal who had a book, the “Book of Where”, and she encouraged us to let students explore the travel of their families through the years.
The Book of Where: Or How to Be Naturally Geographic: Neill Bell
Published by Scholastic Inc, 1994
ISBN 10: 0590480154 / ISBN 13: 9780590480154

We made family maps and did International Day and learned about many cultures. Also the National Geographic had taught me to let kids draw a free hand map of the USA.

The family map was personal. It could be national or international. Cultural elements were inserted. Recipes were collected and shared.We shared family stories and history.

We explored geography and the US.

Now there are new ways to explore our history, our roots, our family stories.

Who are the people in your family ?

Where did the family originate?

Have you and your family always lived in the USA?

Where in the USA has your family lived, visited, what are the places that people have gone to school, and or work and or family vacations?

Is there another country that your family originated from? More than one?

Geography is a template for learning about the world.

Museums do tell the stories , the Smithsonian does workshops for interested people and there are exhibits. The Smithsonian had the exhibit years ago, Seeds of Change that used plants to tell the story of two worlds merging. Two old worlds merging and changing culture, or not from each other. The map above is a very simplified diagram. We have tools and technology now to tell the story better. There are new ways to explore museums. There are new ways to explore cultures. Google Cultural Institute

The Google Cultural Institute is a way to learn about cultures. You can explore using technology as in this virtual tour of Egypt.. (This is a view of the great Pyramids of Giza.)

There is this project that lets you learn from artifacts in a museum. It is the Smithsonian project X3D.

“The SIx3D viewer offers students the ability to explore some of the Smithsonian’s most treasured objects with a level of control that has never been possible until now. We hope this revolutionary level of access to the Smithsonian collections will spark your students’ curiosity and that the exploration of these objects will enable them to build lifelong observation and critical thinking skills.”

“With few exceptions, SIx3D also offers access to these data sets. Hailed by many as the third industrial revolution, 3D technology is molding a new K-12 STEM model. Students can use the same tools as professionals to become creators themselves. Whether students are printing invaluable museum objects or inventions of their own design, we hope the chance to bring objects to life will give students the opportunity to create imaginative and innovative work.”

To help you introduce 3D and its possibilities to your students, Smithsonian educators are working on new resources for K-12 classrooms.

Rather than glimpsing art & photography in the confines of rectangular frames, step into them in virtual reality with the Google Cardboard for supported smart phones. Here is the link to start those explorations.

Traditional Museum Resources? So many museums online.

This is one that lets us frame the thinking about the two old worlds that came together.

Seeds of Change: Five Plants That Transformed Mankind was a 1985 book by Henry Hobhouse which explains how the history of the world since Columbus linked America to Europe and has been changed by five plants.[1] It describes how mankind’s discovery, usage and trade of sugar, tea, cotton, the potato, and quinine have influenced history to make the modern world. The museum used that book as a beginning way to tell us the story ,it was fascinating!!

The focus  seeds are: sugar, corn, the potato, disease, and the horse, selected says Viola “because of the human dimension to their story.” From the exhibition has also came another book called “Seeds of Change,” edited by Viola and and Carolyn Margolis, assistant director of the museum’s quincentenary programs. ( You may notice that tobacco , which was a seed of change was not addressed.

‘IMAGINE a world without pizza, Swiss chocolates, or French fries! Even harder, imagine Italy without the tomato or the {cowboy} without his horse,” says Herman J. Viola, the father of the massive new show “Seeds of Change” at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

The ideas merged and produced an expanded concept for the exhibition “Seeds of Change” that would focus on five seeds chosen from a list of nearly l00. As Viola says, this exhibition focuses on “an exchange of peoples, animals, plants, and diseases between Europe, Africa, and the Americas” over 500 years that began when the New and Old Worlds met.Mr. Viola, curator of the 400-object show, notes that before Columbus encountered the Americas none of those fixtures of modern life had been discovered.

Article excerpt

‘IMAGINE a world without pizza, Swiss chocolates, or French fries! Even harder, imagine Italy without the tomato or the {cowboy} without his horse,” says Herman J. Viola, the father of the massive new show “Seeds of Change” at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

Mr. Viola, curator of the 400-object show, notes that before Columbus encountered the Americas none of those fixtures of modern life had been discovered.

Learning history can be fun!!

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What is History?

“History is for human self-knowledge. Knowing yourself means knowing, first, what it is to be a person; secondly, knowing what it is to be the kind of person you are; and thirdly, knowing what it is to be the person you are and nobody else is. Knowing yourself means knowing what you can do; and since nobody knows what they can do until they try, the only clue to what man can do is what man has done. The value of history, then, is that it teaches us what man has done and thus what man is.” R. G. Collingwood

Knowing other people’s stories helps us to understand sometimes their ways of seeing the world and their elements of culture. Simply we can cite, food , shelter, clothing, systems of education, and customs or traditions. But it can get much more complicated than that. See here . Elements of Culture.  We made T-Shirts to define regions in the US. Other countries may also have regional differences, linked by the language, land and available food sources.

What is Geography and what does that have to do with History?

How Do We Learn it? Why Study Geography?

Sometimes, even effective, fun award-winning web and mobile study apps aren’t enough to sustain motivation to study Geography, if you don’t see its relevance to your life. It is not just about beautiful visuals and interesting places, The truth is that geography is a highly relevant and important type of knowledge for anyone to have.

Here are some top reasons why you should study more geography.

  1. Global Awareness /Where is that place?
    Let’s be honest: we all care about what other people think of us. That’s why our first important reason for studying geography is that it makes you look smart. Knowing basic geography can help you avoid embarrassing moments, impress a people, increase your knowledge of the world that we live in. In addition you see and hear about lots of places that are dots on the map. What do you really , really know about the places and the people who live there?

2. Put the News in Context
How are you supposed to understand the news if you don’t know geography? Knowing geography helps put current events in context. Recently there has been a lot of news about immigrants. Who are they , why do they come, where do they come from and what do we need to know about them or immigration in an historical sense. I was amazed to be in a city in Europe from which many Italians came and to see their letters of credit on a rope that was put up into the ceiling each night. This was when Italians were coming to America in droves from Naples.

For example, knowing that Hong Kong is a city in southern China can begin to help a person understand why it is politically different from the rest of China: it’s geographically isolated.

Hands on a globe

3. Chart the Course of History
Geography not only puts current events in perspective, it help us understand history. A person can’t understand World War II without understanding the roles of the continental Russian Winter or the English Channel. Geography shapes the course of world history. Want to better understand history? Study geography.

The various months help us to know the history in the United States of the groups who were brought here, who were already here, and those who immigrated here. I learned oter people’s history too. Here is a reason that people immigrate.

4. Build Navigation Skills
The most basic skill in navigation is understanding the “lay of the land.” Studying geography helps develop spatial thinking. Those skills could come in handy if you get lost driving around town or in the wilderness!Whoa.. did I forget the GIS? ESRI skills? You can build a story of the places you are studying on a map.GIS 1

5. Travel Smart Whether doing Virtual or Real Travel.
Without a basic sense of geography, it’s impossible to get the most out of travel experiences. If you’re heading to Spain, do you want to see misty mountains, rocky coastlines, or searing-hot cities? These questions will decide whether you head to Torla, Basque Country, or Sevilla. Study up before your next vacation or VR Experience..You don’t want to do eye candy where you just look at pretty pictures without the content.

iho

6. Understand Your Home
Geography allows you to understand the place where you live in the context of the world as it is. Why did people settle in your town? What is the cultural heritage of your town ? Your region?The people who live there? I just found out that the city that I grew up in was the home of slavery. Alexandria , Virginia. People were sold from that city to the south. I never knew that!.It was not taught to me. I went to a Catholic School at first, run by Irish Priesrs and nuns from the Oblate Sisters of Providence. I knew the history of Ireland, and of New Orleans from where the nuns came.

People settle in specific places because of the landscape. For example, cities are almost always built on a river or other reliable water supply. What is the history of the place you live? How has the geography affected the area? These are the questions to ask to gain a deep understanding of your home.

7. Get a Grasp on Globalization
Globalization has been one of the biggest forces in world history for decades. The saying “it’s a small world” reflects this change: the world is as big as it always was, but it’s just more interconnected than ever. Understanding the changes that have swept the world as a result of this interconnection is impossible without appreciating the geography on which it is taking place.

internet-of-things

8. Make Sense of Different Cultures
Human culture is fundamentally place-based: the land determines or influences the cuisine, clothing, architecture, even social relationships. Every aspect of a culture is affected by its geography.

Geography helps you understand and appreciate the incredible diversity of cultures around the world. Like with news, geography puts culture in context. To understand a people, you have to know something about their land.

p011nryz

9. Prepare for the Future
Geographic skills guide important decisions every day. From architecture to politics to business, the physical landscape frames the debates happening today that will be in the history books tomorrow.

Most people don’t get to learn geography. It may be shared in the context of a place name on the news, or as  a part of personal history, if there is interest.

Do your personal exploration and share it with others.

The New World.. the Old World met.. It was not all about Columbus!! How About those Spices

We are getting ready to “celebrate ?” Columbus Day.

ships_waiting_to_sail_out-t2

Most people have not been lucky enough to get a good perspective on what happened when the two worlds met. I was a teacher learner at the Smithsonian when the Quincentennial happened and in planning, they dug deeply into history that few of us were taught. Teachers in the Metropolitan DC area were involved in the workshops and the planning. We worked with Julie Margolis.

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The main book we used to form ideas was “The Columbian Exchange:Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492. We had lots of other books, and activities and even a garden that was on the museum grounds and on the grounds of a school.(http://www.jstor.org/stable/3742188?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents) Some of the research papers we studied were included in the book that became the exhibit handbook..

What is Black History

This student is searching for home, which for her is South Africa

Dr. Herman J. Viola , a curator emeritus at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History also gave us several workshops. He , a specialist on the history of the American West,  served as director of the Museum’s National Anthropological Archives in addition to organizing two major exhibitions for the Smithsonian. “Magnificent Voyagers” told the story of the United State Exploring Expedition of 1838-42, and “Seeds of Change” exhibit which we are referencing here, he examined the exchange of plants, animals, and diseases between the Old and the New Worlds as a result of the Christopher Columbus voyages of discovery.

http://www.edgate.com/lewisandclark/BIOs/BIO_Herman_Bio.html

Columbus, we are told, was no heroic “discoverer” of a New World; as some now see it, he was a villain who pillaged and polluted another old one. At the very least, some say this was not a “discovery.” The approved word for the year of 1992 was “encounter.” There is a whole other discussion on the origins of the maps and the history of map making.

Also, strike the term “celebration.” Many Native Americans viewed the Columbus Quincentenary as more properly an occasion to mourn the destruction of their civilizations. The golden mean, that was taught by the Smithsonian Institution, was the neutral idea of “commemoration.”

The Smithsonian’s “Seeds of Change” exhibition was a marker to think differently about the two world coming together in – the largest ever mounted display by the National Museum of Natural History – it did not focus on Columbus himself, although it refers to his voyages and contained quotations from his journals.

Here is a different take on what Columbus was looking for. Can you say spices?

Do you know that this is a different way of thinking about why Columbus went to the “Indies”

http://education.nationalgeographic.com/video/price-of-pepper/

And here is a map0d0ae1e3-f061-4e7e-a9ee-348d1bdd6992

http://education.nationalgeographic.com/thisday/oct12/columbus-makes-landfall-caribbean/

The theme of the “Seeds of Change” at the Smithsonian was the biological and cultural exchanges that transformed two old worlds into one new one – a popularization of ideas introduced two decades ago by historian Alfred W. Crosby Jr. in his book.

There is a darker view of Columbus , presented here..http://www.understandingprejudice.org/nativeiq/weather.htm Everyone does not agree about the cultural exchange and encounter.

                                                Elements of Change

Often discussed were the horse, tomato, potato, corn and disease. ( tobacco was not mentioned, Slavery was inserted).

The five ``seeds`` that Columbus sowed on both sides of the Atlantic with his voyages to the new world that were presented were  sugar, corn, the potato, disease and the horse, Margolis told us.

“The transfer of these items changed the world,“ Corn, for example, was unknown to Columbus and the rest of the world.

mural_indian

In 1493, when corn was first exported to Europe, people there fed it to livestock, thinking it unfit for human consumption. But by 1700, corn became a staple, especially in Africa, where it contributed to a population growth that in turn fed the slave trade to America. Think sugar cane, rum, and the triangle of slavery.

Triangle_Trade

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The horse, too was depicted, as a seed of change when the Spanish used it to conquer the Americas. Horses roamed America in prehistoric times, but were killed off during the Ice Age; Columbus reintroduced them to the New World, to which they were well adapted.Horses, for example, are depicted as having increased Indian wealth and leisure time, while inspiring an array of crafts and clothing. But their use by Indian societies also is said by some to have promoted contact, competition and warfare among tribes.

tomato-varieties-header

.The Tomato http://www.tomato-cages.com/tomato-history.html

Margolis pointed out to us that Italian cuisine with its tomato sauces could not have come into being without the American tomato brought back to Europe by Columbus. A 6- by 8-foot sculpture was in the exhibit, “Spaghetti Meets Tomato,“ by artist Roark Gourley of Laguna Beach, Calif., shows a whimsical, climbing tomato plant towering over a red-and-white checked tablecloth and an array of common Italian-American dishes.“`Spaghetti Meets Tomato

Spag_tom_layers_2007

“I had tried different things, none of which I liked,” Gourley said. “I had a food fight between Columbus and a kid that didn’t work out. I kept tinkering with it until the idea of spaghetti and tomato, which is so simple, hit me.”The finished piece looked to be constructed entirely of food, but is deceptively intricate in its design. The spaghetti noodles are made of a resin-glossed clothes line, the cheese of sliced-up rubberbands and rice made of real spaghetti noodles

When we visited we had a list of the foods from the New World and a list of Old World Food.

It was fun to make a menu using only foods from one list.

For other readings that cast a different light on the importance of the Columbian Voyages read this book ” Precious Cargo” The Author says

“The discovery of the Americas was a watershed event for food that forever changed history and triggered unforeseen advances in agriculture, enterprise, and commerce that allowed the development of the modern world. Admittedly, this progress came with horrendous problems, like slavery and the destruction of indigenous societies and species, but I don’t believe it serves any useful purpose to make moral judgments about historical events. The purpose of Precious Cargo, is simply to tell the many stories of how and why western hemisphere foods and crops conquered the rest of the world and saved it from not only culinary boredom, but mass starvation as well”

http://www.dave-dewitt.com/portfolio-item/precious-cargo-how-foods-from-the-americas-changed-the-world/

The Tomato History has origins traced back to the early Aztecs around 700 A.D; therefore it is believed that the tomato is native to the Americas. It was not until around the 16th century that Europeans were introduced to this fruit when the early explorers set sail to discover new lands. Throughout Southern Europe, the tomato was quickly accepted into the kitchen, yet as it moved north, more resistance was apparent. The British, for example, admired the tomato for its beauty, but believe that it was poisonous, as its appearance was similar to that of the wolf peach.

Sugar cane is viewed more harshly still. As visitors enter the darkened section devoted to this fifth “seed,” they suddenly find themselves in the simulated hold of a slave ship. Originally brought from Europe, sugar cane grew even better in the Caribbean, where its production for European use stimulated the slave trade and caused the ravaging of the native terrain, the exhibition argues.

From virgin rain forests to sugar cane plantations, a diorama re-creating a slave dwelling and narration of an account of slave life by actress Whoopi Goldberg.

indigenous-potatoes-729x505

New World Foods: corn, potato, tomato, bell pepper, chili pepper, vanilla, tobacco, beans, pumpkin, cassava root, avocado, peanut, pecan , cashew, pineapple, blueberry, sunflower, petunia, black-eyed susan, dahlia, marigold, quinine, wild rice, cacao (chocolate), gourds, and squash.

Here is an indepth game to play to learn a lot more from the NMAI.

          http://www.nmai.si.edu/exhibitions/infinityofnations/culturequest/

When Christopher Columbus arrived on the Bahamian Island of Guanahani (San Salvador) in 1492, he encountered the Taíno people, whom he described in letters as “naked as the day they were born.” The Taíno had complex hierarchical religious, political, and social systems. Skilled farmers and navigators, they wrote music and poetry and created powerfully expressive objects. At the time of Columbus’s exploration, the Taíno were the most numerous indigenous people of the Caribbean and inhabited what are now Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. By 1550, the Taíno were close to extinction, many having succumbed to diseases brought by the Spaniards. Taíno influences survived, however, and today appear in the beliefs, religions, language, and music of Caribbean cultures.

Had horses really been extinct in the Americas until Christopher Columbus shipped them there on his second voyage? they wanted to know.

And was it true that diseases imported by the explorers and conquistadors had decimated as much as 90 percent of the native population?

And why was tobacco not included I assume that it was not politically correct to tell about it.

TOBACCO: The Early History of a New World Crop
Hail thou inspiring plant! Thou balm of life,
Well might thy worth engage two nations’ strife;
Exhaustless fountain of Britannia’s wealth;
Thou friend of wisdom and thou source of health.
-from an early tobacco label

Tobacco, that outlandish weed
It spends the brain, and spoiles the seede
It dulls the spirite, it dims the sight
It robs a woman of her right.

-Dr. William Vaughn, 1617
As these two verses show, tobacco use has long been a controversial subject, considered by turns a vice, a panacea, an economic salvation and a foolish and dangerous habit. However, it was perceived, by the end of the seventeenth century tobacco had become the economic staple of Virginia, easily making her the wealthiest of the 13 colonies by the time of the American Revolution.

The Old World encountered tobacco at the dawn of the European Age of Exploration. On the morning of October 12, 1492, Christopher Columbus set foot on a small island in the Bahamas. Believing himself to be off the coast of Asia, the Admiral dressed in his best to meet the local inhabitants. The Arawaks offered him some dried leaves as a token of friendship. Those leaves were tobacco. A few days later, a party from Columbus’ ship docked off the coast of Cuba and witnessed local peoples there smoking tobacco through Y-shaped tubes which they inserted in their noses, inhaling smoke until they lost consciousness.

Source? http://www.nps.gov/jame/learn/historyculture/tobacco-the-early-history-of-a-new-world-crop.htm

Disease– Controversial subject ….

The exhibition’s section on disease included fascinating pre-Columbian sculptures from Peru’s Moche culture, which for some reason (we never learn why) excelled in the depiction of medical deformities. There was a case devoted to the argument that, in an exception from the more common transfer of infections from East to West, syphilis may have been brought back to Europe by Columbus’ crew. No space, however, is allotted to countervailing theories, including the notion that Europeans might at one time have misdiagnosed syphilis as leprosy. Discussions continue about the effects of disease.

Wikipedia

European exploration of tropical areas was aided by the New World discovery of quinine, the first effective treatment for malaria. Europeans suffered from this disease, but some indigenous populations had developed at least partial resistance to it. In Africa, resistance to malaria has been associated with other genetic changes among sub-Saharan Africans and their descendants that can cause sickle cell anemia.[1]:164

Before regular communication had been established between the two hemispheres, the varieties of domesticated animals and infectious diseases that jumped to humans, such assmallpox, were strikingly more numerous in the Old World than in the New. Many had migrated west across Eurasia with animals or people, or were brought by traders from Asia, so diseases of two continents were suffered by all occupants. While Europeans and Asians were affected by the Eurasian diseases, their endemic status in those continents over centuries resulted in many people gaining acquired immunity.

By contrast, “Old World” diseases had a devastating effect when introduced to Native American populations via European carriers, as the people in the Americas had no naturalimmunity to the new diseases. Measles caused many deaths. The smallpox epidemics are believed to have caused the largest death tolls among Native Americans, surpassing any wars[13] and far exceeding the comparative loss of life in Europe due to the Black Death.[1]:164 It is estimated that upwards of 80–95 percent of the Native American population died in these epidemics within the first 100–150 years following 1492. Many regions in the Americas lost 100%.[1]:165

Similarly, yellow fever is thought to have been brought to the Americas from Africa via the Atlantic slave trade. Because it was endemic in Africa, many people there had acquired immunity. Europeans suffered higher rates of death than did African-descended persons when exposed to yellow fever in Africa and the Americas, where numerous epidemics swept the colonies beginning in the 17th century and continuing into the late 19th century.

Debate on the origins of syphilis has been raging for centuries. New genetic evidence supports the theory that Christopher Columbus brought syphilis to Europe from the New World. According to the study, genetic analysis of the syphilis family tree reveals that its closest relative was a South American disease that causes yaws, an infection caused by a sub-species of the same bacterium. [14]

But wait.. there is more.. There was gold, and silver and huge Emeralds… there were ships that took that treasure to Spain. I certainly remember the Emeralds. Probably not as important  as the cocoa bean which made chocolate a choice commodity.