A friend of mine — just a teensy bit jealous of my eight months of relative indolence here in Michigan — said the weather forecast for the whole state, year-round, could be summed up thusly: “Cloudy, with increasing shittiness.”
Have it your way, Miss Thing. Of course, today (and many days) he would be absolutely correct. Today we had clouds and rain all day, with the relative blessing of temperatures in the 50s for most of it. I’m sorry that we have this rule about not talking about seminar topics, because tonight’s set me woolgathering on the drive home, which is probably the point. I started thinking about stories that get told and stories that don’t get told, and why that is. Most people don’t know that this country’s greatest defeat of a white military force by Native Americans occurred not at Little Big Horn, but in the heart of Fort Wayne, Indiana, a battle called “Harmar’s Defeat.” Miami Indians led by Little Turtle, the great Miami leader, slaughtered Gen. Josiah Harmar’s army on October 22, 1790, very nearly to the last man. The Indians, a historian told me, refer to that fight as the Battle of the Pumpkin Fields, because so many scalped skulls were left on the riverbank, steaming in the autumn air, that it looked like a field of squash ready for picking.
And yet, while every American schoolchild learns about Gen. Custer and his defeat in Dakota, only a bare handful know about Little Turtle and Kekionga. The same historian said that what happened in the northwest territories at the end of the 18th century was as significant in the history of this country as what happened at the end of the 19th in what we now think of as the American west. And now it’s little more than regional history. Why?
Oh, a short list: Hollywood, Custer’s PR staff, what you might call the Zeitgeist. How would we remember 9/11 if it had happened on a day like today, the towers upper floors hidden by low clouds? Differently, that’s for sure. The smoke would have mixed with the fog, the towers would have seemed to fall out of the sky itself. It would have a whole new set of images. We could say the attack came “out of the blue,” but it wouldn’t mean the same thing.
Sorry to woolgather so. I’m the world’s most boring student these days, immersed in the dative case, the complexities (or lack thereof) of my second act (which sucks sucks SUCKS, I tell you), the approaching OSU game and next week’s Fellows presentations, for which I have to cook for 30 or so people. Any ideas for a sophisticated but simple dessert? I’m open.