NEC Blog: Removing Confederate Monuments on “All Sides with Ann Fisher” 6.29.20

Removing Confederate Monuments on “All Sides with Ann Fisher”

All Sides with Ann Fisher, WOSU 89.7 npr news

June 29, 2020.
 Columbus City Councilmember Elizabeth Brown, Director of Cultural Resources at the Ohio History Connection Megan Wood, Columbus Historian at the Columbus Landmarks Foundation Rita Fuller Yates, and Associate Professor of Comparative Studies at The Ohio State University Newark Dr. John Low [Pokagon Band of Potawatomi] are guests on All Sides with Ann Fisher. This hour long podcast is focused toward “public statuary, what it means, when it should endure and how we decide when it’s time to put it away.”
To listen to the entire podcastclick here.
For more information,
Visit:

MAPPING CHICAGOU/CHICAGO: The Settler Colonial City Project

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I was honored to have the opportunity to write the foreword to a publication for Decolonizing the Chicago Cultural Center at the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial by the research collective The Settler Colonial City Project.

You can read and download the entire publication here.

Foreword

This booklet is an important step toward acknowledging the colonial project we now call Chicago. Frankly, I was unfamiliar with the Chicago Architecture Biennial, and was surprised when members began contacting me about “an Indigenous perspective” and “de-colonizing” the biennial to clear a space for native voices. Who knew? Since then, I have had the pleasure of making a small contribution to these efforts by consulting with Andrew Herscher, Ana Maria Leon and Paulo Tavares. Now, I am honored with providing a foreword to their document. This is significant – when individuals from distinctly different backgrounds, disciplines, and professions can organize and ally around a theme or issue, common understandings and common ground.

I am a citizen of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians of southwest Michigan and northwest Indiana. I grew up in that community and know that Chicago is a part of our ancestral lands. I had the opportunity to write about our connections to the city in Imprints, The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi & the City of Chicago (Michigan State University Press, 2016). I love Chicago. Our tribal nation is less than one hundred miles from the Loop – we are the closest Native nation to the city. I have fond memories of visiting the city as a child, going to the museums, planetarium, aquarium, and sporting events, including my beloved Bears, Cubs, Bulls, and Blackhawks.  Later, I would earn an MA from the University of Chicago, lived in Hyde Park, Lincoln Park, and Bucktown. I taught at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Northeastern Illinois University, and finished my dissertation while a scholar in residence at the Newberry Library. Yes, I love Chicago.

Chicago has been ancestral home for many native peoples; Potawatomi, Ho-Chunk, Meskwaki, Fox, and others. It didn’t become an urban cosmopolitan place after the settler-colonists arrived. That is a false narrative. It has been a bustling place of interaction, trade, and habitation for thousands of years. But after 1833 and the last treaty of Chicago, American Indians were not expected to be included in “the American dream.” We were cultural patrimony, relics of the past. Modern America had no time for modern Indians. Pokagon Potawatomi author and activist, Simon Pokagon “talked back” to that notion with his oration at the World’s Columbian Exposition and his raising a birch bark tipi on the Midway during that event. Pokagon spoke before 70,000 people on Chicago Day in September of 1893; his booklet “The Red Man’s Greeting” was sold at the Fair and expressed his thoughts about the celebration.

On behalf of my people, the American Indians, I hereby declare to you, the pale-faced race that has usurped our lands and homes, that we have no spirit to celebrate with you the great Columbian Fair now being held in this Chicago city, the wonder of the world. No; sooner would we hold the high joy day over the graves of our departed than to celebrate our own funeral, the discovery of America. And while . . . your hearts in admiration rejoice over the beauty and grandeur of this young republic and you say, ‘behold the wonders wrought by our children in this foreign land,’ do not forget that this success has been at the sacrifice of our homes and a once happy race.

Clearly, it was difficult for him to celebrate this new Chicago. As he rode the Ferris Wheel at the Fair, Pokagon described his thoughts on how the place of his youth had changed.

As we were lifted up a strange sensation came over me, and I thought, the dominant race will yet invent a way for their sinners to reach heaven. For some cause, while our car was at its highest point, the monstrous wheel stood still. My companion said, “Pokagon, it stopped for you to view Chicago.” I surveyed the White City, stretching along the lake beneath me. Then, casting my eyes northward, I surveyed the white man’s Chicago. But how unlike the Chi-Kog-Ong of the red man! The shoreline of the lake, with its fleet of canoes; the marsh and winding river, with flags and rushes fringed, the scattering wigwams and the red men were nowhere to be seen. But in place rose roof o roof, steeples tall, smoking towers and masts of ships as far as eye could see. All had changed, except the sun and sky above, they had not, because the Great Spirit, in his wisdom, hung them beyond the white man’s reach.[i]

In large part, due to the U.S. governments plan of Indian relocation in the 1950’s, a new intertribal Indigenous community has emerged in Chicago. Simon Pokagon’s “talking back” against the erasure of Indigenous presence in Chicago has continued – reflected in the creation of Indigenous monuments including the bricolage at Wilson Avenue under Lakeshore Drive, and the historical marker and naming of “Battle of Fort Dearborn Park”.

Migwetch (thank you) to the authors of this booklet and to the reader as well. It tells an important story about Chicago that you usually don’t learn in school; one that is too often ignored. This little booklet, like Simon Pokagon’s little booklet of 130 years ago, is evidence that things are changing – not only in Chicago but around the world. Indigenous peoples are not just talking back; we are being heard.

[i] Simon Pokagon, “The Chi-Kog-Ong of the Red Man,” The New York Times, The Sunday Magazine, December 5, 1897; 7-10, 10.

Article from the alumni magazine of the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts at the University of Michigan, Spring 2020: The Place of Wild Onions

The Place of Wild Onions is an excerpt from a multi-part story on the recent Settler Colonial City Project (SCCP) exhibit at the Yates Gallery at the Chicago Cultural Center. (Pages 41-43)

I am honored that my book, Imprints: the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians & the City of Chicago, was one of the inspirations for this impressive work and exhibit.

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You can read the Story on the LSA Magazine Website

You can also download the issue as a PDF or read the E-zine.

Talk at the Licking County Library, Newark, Ohio on March 12th

American Indians Return to the Newark Earthworks

7:00 PM – 7:45 PM
Downtown Newark
Meeting Room A

Event Details

Hundreds of federally recognized American Indians from across the country have traveled to Newark in recent years to visit our earthworks. In anticipation of the Spring Open House for the Octagon Earthworks, John Low and Richard Shiels will talk about the experience of Indians from Oklahoma and Michigan who have made the visit and the American Indian leaders who are active in the effort to inscribe the Newark Earthworks on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Richard Shiels, Associate Professor Emeritus, specializes in American religious history and has served as the Director of the Newark Earthworks Center, an interdisciplinary center of The Ohio State University for studying and teaching about ancient earthworks and Native American history and life.  He was the recipient of The Ohio State University-Newark Teaching Excellence Award in 1977, 1985, and 1988.
John N. Low, Associate Professor of Comparative Studies and citizen of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, is the current Director of the Center.  He has previously served as Executive Director of the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian in Evanston, Illinois, and as a member of the Advisory Committee for the Indians of the Midwest Project at the D’Arcy McNickle Center for American Indian and Indigenous Studies at the Newberry Library.
Event Type(s): Adult
Age Group(s): Adult

Talk at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, March 5th

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Art & Artistry: The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians and Black Ash Basketry

Event Type: Lecture
Sponsor: American Indian Studies
Location: Davenport Hall, Room 109A
Date: Mar 5, 2020   3:30 pm  
Speaker: John N. Low, Associate Professor of Comparative Studies, Ohio State University – Newark
Originating Calendar
American Indian Studies Program
John N. Low received his Ph.D. in American Culture at the University of Michigan, and is an enrolled citizen of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians. He is also the recipient of a graduate certificate in Museum Studies and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Michigan School of Law. He also earned a BA from Michigan State University, a second BA in American Indian Studies from the University of Minnesota, and an MA in the Social Sciences from the University of Chicago. His most recent manuscript is Imprints: The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians & the City of Chicago (2016, Michigan State University Press). Since September, 2019, he has been the Director of the Newark Earthworks Center at the Ohio State University – Newark.

Dr. Low’s research interests and courses at the Ohio State University – Newark include American Indian histories, literatures, and cultures, Native identities, American Indian religions, Indigenous canoe cultures around the world, Urban American Indians, museums, material culture and representation, memory studies, American Indian law and treaty rights, Indigenous cross-cultural connections, critical landscape studies, and Native environmental perspectives and practices.

New Short Documentrary on YouTube: The Pokagon Band of Potowatomi

The Pokagon Band of Potowatomi

“Very few native tribes avoided removal to the West, but the Pokagons, led by Chief Leopold Pokagon, managed to do it. This short documentary, produced for The Region of Three Oaks Museum, tells that story and subsequent events that led to official recognition of the Pokagons by the US government 160 years later.”

Apologies for Deleted Comments

Had a massive rash of spam hit this space and accidentally deleted some of your comments!

Ohio Mounds Top USA’s UNESCO World Heritage Site Bid (With Audio)

Ohio Mounds Top USA’s UNESCO World Heritage Site Bid

In the Arts & Sciences News: Heritage, legacy drives Newark Earthworks Center director

Heritage, legacy drives Newark Earthworks Center director

Newark Earthworks
The east entrance of the Newark Earthwork’s Great Circle.


Encompassing over 4 square miles and constructed by the indigenous peoples of the ancient Hopewell culture between 100 B.C. and 500 A.D, the Newark Earthworks are the largest set of earthen enclosures in the world. Approximately 2,000 years after they were built, John Low feels their significance and generational legacy in his veins.

Low, an associate professor of comparative studies at Ohio State Newark, was recently named director of the Newark Earthworks Center (NEC), an interdisciplinary academic center at Ohio State. Created in 2005, the NEC examines American Indians’ cultural and scientific achievements with a focus on developing programs and researching the cultures that constructed earthworks around the Midwest.

Low is the coordinator of the Newark campus’s American studies minor and often takes students to the earthworks, where he’s able to incorporate them into his teaching and research. A citizen of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indian nation, Low feels a distinct connection to the earthworks, a connection passed down by his ancestors.

“We may have direct descendance to these mound builders, and even if we don’t, these were our indigenous neighbors that built these places,” Low said. “The earthworks are a celebration of who our ancestors were and who we are as Native peoples. That’s what it means to me.”


Much of the earthworks have been demolished over the years as Newark has developed and expanded, but three sections have remained more or less intact:

  • The Great Circle Earthworks: Approximately 1,200 feet in diameter — wide enough to cram in four football fields end to end — the Great Circle’s walls are 8 feet high with a 5-foot trench along the inside circumference of the circle. The Great Circle’s gateway points due east, and Eagle Mound — a group of mounds in the shape of a bird midflight — is nestled at its center.
  • The Wright Earthworks: A few blocks northeast of the Great Circle is the Wright Earthworks. Though much of Wright has been destroyed with the city of Newark’s expansion and development, the mounds used to form a near-perfect square with eight small mounds situated within.
  • The Octagon Earthworks: A little over a mile to the northwest of the Great Circle lies the Octagon Earthworks, which comprises of the Octagon, Observatory Circle and Observatory Mound. The Octagon has eight walls, each approximately 550 feet long, 5 to 6 feet tall and separated by gaps in the corners. Connected to the Octagon’s west side is Observatory Circle, with Observatory Mound laid perpendicularly across its western entrance.

“The people who built these were very pre-Frank Lloyd Wright in that they were really concerned with the horizonal,” Low said. “He was interested in his architecture blending in and being horizontal and in balance with the environment.”

Though no one can know for certain the Hopewell peoples’ reasons for constructing the complex — some speculate the earthworks were places of worship, trade, burials and other ceremonies — they remain an extraordinary feat of ingenuity that exemplify their creators’ advanced knowledge of geometry, astronomy and earthen engineering.

For example, in 1982, researchers from Earlham College discovered that the Octagon Earthworks was a complicated lunar observatory. The gaps between each wall of the Octagon, they found, are aligned to points on the horizon indicating notable moonrises and moonsets of a complex 18.6-year lunar cycle, with the extreme northernmost moonrise lining up exactly with the Octagon’s central axis. Furthermore, the square footage of both the Great Circle and the Observatory Circle (1,054 feet) corresponds to other Hopewellian structures, including the Octagon.

“That measurement is replicated in other places in Ohio, so they were doing the exact same thing,” Low said. “Regarding the moon cycle, we can only speculate why that was important, but it was important to them. It may have represented stability and balance that these things were going to continue as they were expected to go. It shows a lot of human ingenuity.”

Newark Earthworks
Moundbuilders Country Club’s golf course is constructed within the Octagon and Observatory Circle.


The Newark Earthworks is operated as a state park by the Ohio History Connection, is designated as a National Historic Landmark and is considered by the state of Ohio as “the official prehistoric monument of the state.”

The site is also being considered for inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage List, which recognizes designated landmarks around the world that have cultural, historical or scientific significance and are legally protected by international treaties. The Newark Earthworks’ status on the list hinges partly on an ongoing legal battle with Moundbuilders Country Club, on which the Octagon Earthworks lay.

Low says, however, the designation wouldn’t be decided on for another three to four years.

“There would be a significant influx of tourism from around the world, which would be really exciting to be able share this,” he said.

As director of the NEC, Low is striving to promote scholarly engagement surrounding the Newark Earthworks and grow the NEC as an elite research center. He feels a duty to develop the NEC and bring academics to the earthworks not just because he’s a professor and researcher, but because of the generations that came before him.

“The blood of mound builders is in our veins,” he said. “We may not have built them, but we carry that ancestry and that legacy and that inheritance with us.”

https://artsandsciences.osu.edu/sites/default/files/styles/news_event/public/john%20low%20web.jpg?itok=Oj4KanB6

Link to an Indigenous Tour of Northwestern (Virtual Reality)

Here is a link to a wonderful mapping of the Indigenous presence in the greater Chicago area created by students at Northwestern University. Dr Patty Loew was kind enough to include me in the series of interviews. Very impressive interactive website. Migwetch Patty!

Indigenous Tour of  Northwestern

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“Not Just a Pile of Dirt” – OSUN – Faculty Talks Outside the Box Friday, November 15, 2019, 3:30 – 4:30pm

Faculty Talks Outside the Box | Not Just a Pile of Dirt

Facult Talks Outside the Box | Not Just a Pile of Dirt Lecture Flyer. PDF available.
November 15, 2019
3:30 PM
Free & Open to the Public!
Room 175
John L. & Christine Warner Library & Student Center
The Ohio State University at Newark
1219 University Drive
Newark, OH 43055
 

It is a story similar to hundreds told before — the destruction of historical land to make way for the growth of a booming city. Once encompassing more than four square miles, the Newark Earthworks were built by the people of the ancient Hopewell Culture between 100 B.C. and 500 A.D. All that remains today of the Earthworks are two major segments: the Great Circle Earthworks and the Octagon Earthworks. John Low, Associate Professor of Comparative Studies and the new Director of the Newark Earthworks Center, will discuss these incredible indigenous monuments in their former days and what remains today at an upcoming Faculty Talks Outside the Box lecture.

“It is important to be familiar with these ancestral sites not only because they will likely soon be a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage site, but also because they represent a legacy of human achievement in architecture, astronomy, geometry and evidence of humankind’s ability to work together in collaborative undertakings,” said Dr. Low.

Dr. Low will discuss how the Newark Earthworks are an architectural wonder of ancient America, and how they are part cathedral, part cemetery and part astronomical observatory. He will note the work of the Newark Earthworks Center and the importance of the Earthworks as a potential UNESCO World Heritage site.

During Faculty Talks Outside the Box, Ohio State Newark professors discuss recent research in their fields as it relates to our community and answer questions. All talks are free and open to the public. The Warner Center is located at 1219 University Drive, Newark, Ohio.

Talk at the University of Dayton November 19th, 2019

NPAC 2019_Poster copy 2

I will be presenting a talk about the history of land acknowledgements at the University of Dayton during this colloquium.

 

Chinese Graduate Student Visits Our Basket Exhibit

I had the pleasure of meeting with Yan He at the LeFevre Gallery on the Ohio State University Newark campus on Thursday, 10/31. She is a doctoral student from Sun Yat-sen University in Guangdong Province and her focus is on folklore studies, performance, cultural identity, Intangible Cultural Heritage. Her dissertation topic: Women’s script (Nvshu wenzi) and associated culture in Hunan province, China. We had the chance to talk at length regarding the Pokagon Potawatomi Black Ash Basket exhibit in the Gallery. Pictured below is Yan He along with her host Professor Mark Bender and myself. Thank you Mark for making this meeting possible!

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Talk at Purdue University for Native American Heritage Month – November 1st, 2019

2019 10-28 NAECC Newsletter(1)_Page_1

Warrior Women

Warrior Women Project

We at Ohio State University – Newark had the opportunity to screen the film Warrior Women on September 19th, and we were joined by Madonna Thunder Hawk, her daughter Marcy Gilbert and the film’s co-producer/Director Beth Castle. The movie is about the American Indian Red Power Movement from it’s inception to today. It focuses on the essential contributions of women, including Madonna and Marcy, to that movement. I was honored to introduce our esteemed guests and secured a photo with Madonna and Marcy during their visit. They are inspiring leaders and I highly recommend the film. It is excellent.

Warrior Women Visit Cropped
L to R: Madonna Thunder Hawk, me, Marcy Gilbert.