Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The West

A few months ago, I was reading a newspaper article headlined "Kit Carson: The most hated white guy in American history?
The Taos town council wanted to rename its Kit Carson Memorial Park to something more politically correct, 
given the common misperception that Carson was an "Indian hater." The article referenced a book, "Blood and Thunder
The Epic Story of Kit Carson and the Conquest of the American West" by Hampton Sides, 
which I was compelled to read to gain some perspective on the subject. It's not like I'm related to Kit Carson,
 but I'll admit to a certain fascination if only because we share a name.


"Blood and Thunder" truly was an epic story and one of the most engaging books I've ever read.
Many of the turning points in how the west was won stolen happened in New Mexico, 
so all of these historical events that happened from 1820 through the 1860s seemed oddly personal and relatable.   
I so enjoyed learning and/or re-learning this part of American history that I then had to binge-watch 
Ken Burns' PBS series "The West." How did I miss that the first time around? It's must-see tv for history nerds like me.


Anyway, having immersed myself in the settlement of the West over these past few weeks,
I'll never look at this land and my surroundings in the same way again.



12 comments:

  1. a new Carson! who has culturally re-appropriated her land

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  2. Anne Boleyn8/13/14, 6:50 AM

    What a compelling post today! The photographs only make it mores with their stark beauty. This makes me think of one of my favorite songs, lyrics by Woody Guthrie, by the Klezmatics, "Holy Ground". https://www.google.com/#q=holy+ground+klezmatics. Since the lyrics are difficult to hear on the recording, here they are, but I highly recommend hearing them on the Klezmatics' "Wonder Wheel" album!
    Holy Ground
    Words by Woody Guthrie, 1954, Music by Frank London (The Klezmatics), 2003

    Take off, take off your shoes
    This place you’re standing, it’s holy ground
    Take off, take off your shoes
    The spot you’re standing, its holy ground

    These words I heard in my burning bush
    This place you’re standing, it’s holy ground
    I heard my fiery voice speak to me
    This spot you’re standing, it’s holy ground

    That spot is holy holy ground
    That place you stand it’s holy ground
    This place you tread, it’s holy ground
    God made this place his holy ground

    Take off your shoes and pray
    The ground you walk it’s holy ground
    Take off your shoes and pray
    The ground you walk it’s holy ground

    Every spot on earth I trapse around
    Every spot I walk it’s holy ground
    Every spot on earth I trapse around
    Every spot I walk it’s holy ground

    Every spot it’s holy ground
    Every little inch it’s holy ground
    Every grain of dirt it’s holy ground
    Every spot I walk it’s holy ground

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for this, Anne. Such a beautiful song.

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  3. I love reading and watching history documentaries. I didn't pay attention in school the first time it was presented to me. Very cool!

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  4. Sometimes when I,m on my vegetable garden, I took some soil in my hand and thinking how did the people of my nation had stugled and fight, so that I can own this where I live and I can be free.

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  5. I also love history and books like that. It was a time and an attitude. Some of it though is still here with our current divided view of what's going on-- or should. Manifest destiny is a powerful doctrine for humans 'everywhere' to be influenced by. I got into Custer's story last year and read a lot of biographies as well as some memoirs to let me see it from the perspective of the time but also through toiday's lens. Ken Burns does a great job on relating history for us to get a feel for what was going on.

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  6. Same here. When I first came to Arizona, I couldn't stop reading about the history that shaped this land. (and the women that worked the brothels). I could spend eternity reading and watching documentaries on the Superstition Mountains alone. I will read something and then have to go visit the site.

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  7. I too am a history nerd of sorts. This beautiful land has so many "ugly" skeletons that pop out of the closet if one only peeks inside. But that is true of "everywhere". I am always struck by a much earlier period of time, the conquistadors and how they mismanaged the people, the resources and the time in which they came here to "the new world". My grandfather met Kit Carson, once when my grandfather was but a child. Had a very long narrative about how the man was larger than life. I, like most kids, really didn't put much stock into his words and how provocative were until later in college when I took a class and met Kit Carson in print.
    This was a great post and the photos are so striking. Thanks.

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  8. When I was in college in northeastern Oklahoma, I minored in history. There was a class on New Mexico history offered, and because we had vacationed in Red River when I was 16 (1000 years ago), I was fascinated with NM and decided to take the class. I had a most wonderful teacher that I adored - Michael Murphy - and he was from Las Vegas, NM and made the history of the state come alive for me. I'm still a NM buff and always will be. What better place for all of us history and wild west nerds to unite than on your blog. :)

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  9. The West....that there patch reminds me of what my skin looks like....Happy hump day.

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  10. I was given a book by my sister-in-law. I'm not sure why she sent it to me, but I am glad she did. It is called "The Lakota Way: Stories and Lessons for Living" (Compass) [Joseph M. Marshall III] I grew up in Texas and only really learned Texas history. When I read the whole book, I wept. I wept for being a part of the people who took their lives and livelihood away. I wept for the people who lived it then and who are living it now. We keep them alive by retelling the stories. New Mexico is a vibrant, deep place. There is nothing better for the soul than learning.

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  11. thank you for the mud pictures :) When I moved to Az, I took every Az History course ASU had to offer. It was interesting to see the similarities and differences between Az and CA ... I had no idea.

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