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July 14, 2017

When Historic Preservation Begins

Again. The damage had been done, and the implications were clear. Like the rape of Mother Earth, in creating their territory with roads, like in Rondo, there was the State of Minnesota’s Department of Transportation.  viking hat

“I’m beginning to think we do not matter to you,” said member of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Matthew Northrup. After five years of planning, the Fond du Lac Band was not consulted, no ‘flags’ were raised, where highway construction by the Minnesota Department of Transportation was taking place. Have you ever had to deal with the arrogance of the Minnesota Department of Transportation, no matter what political party held power?

Whose land? What treaty? Only after desecrating a cemetery in Duluth’s Fond du Lac neighborhood near Minnesota Highway 23, said Charlie Zelle, Commissioner for Governor Mark Dayton, after five years of planning: “We’re just beginning to understand the pain and the anger that comes from a disruption that we could have avoided.”

A disruption? This is a fake apology over the damage to burial places of the First People by a Minnesota state agency while building a new access road to West Fourth Street, replacing the Mission Creek bridge on May 15. Because the State of Minnesota’s Department of Transportation’s ‘process’ did not include working with the band, ‘the process’ had failed. Ten days later, the Fond du Lac Band was notified of work in the area. By a historian.

History is such a burden. It was announced that “The State” will study the bones and artifacts that have been unearthed in a non-invasive way. There was a time, perhaps when these bones of the Anishinaabe were buried, when Church was not split from state.

When you belong to a Land, you know things. Growing up in Fond du Lac, Historian Christine Carlson contacted the Fond du Lac Band after driving past the site on May 25th. This isn’t the first time construction has disturbed Fond du Lac graveyards, said Carlson. Noticing construction in the area that Carlson knew held documented graveyards, she brought the road construction project to the attention of the Fond du Lac. This land has served both as a gathering place as well as a burial site for Lake Superior Chippewa since at least the 1600s. Was it the first time the State of Minnesota failed to consider the historic nature of the LAND or the nature of the Peace Treaties?

Eleven days later, on June 6, 2017, human remains were found, which ruined “the process.” Said project manager Roberta Dwyer, “We need to restore and recover the graves that have been, unfortunately, damaged.”

Could you hear the missing passion in this statement? Did you ever identify the threat in all the Spiritual, Not Religious around in descendants of the Old World who have lost something, in the split of Church and State. People who think this is all hooey. With 50 states, there are all of these conflicts over the units – unitaty– making up the Spiritual identity of the political state. As if the new people would rob the sacred burial places, of the dead and of the living Spirits? Now the State of Minnesota’s Department of Transportation has to work to restore the affected area in partnership with the band. Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Initially, State of Minnesota’s Department of Transportation had stated that the State Historic Preservation Office which operates under the Minnesota Historical Society, also had to “approve” the plans. And imagine what would have happened without the publicity? Like in the days when the Authority knew those treaties would be lost if not forgotten. Gutless politicians.

The gutting. Minnesota Historical Society public relations manager Jessa Kohen wrote in an email to the Duluth News Tribune: “The State Historic Preservation Office was not given an opportunity to review and consult with Mn-DOT on the Highway 23 reconstruction plans in their entirety. In this case, State Historic Preservation Office was asked by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to review the bridge replacement portion of the road project, only.”

After human remains were found June 6, law enforcement authority has not arrested anyone under the employment of Charlie Zelle or Mark Dayton. Historian Christine Carlson tracked a similar history during the initial construction of Minnesota 23, of unearthed bodies. In 1937. An initial occurrence of unearthed bodies was in 1869 as railroad construction roused the dead. Said Fond du Lac Band Chairman Kevin Dupuis, “If I were to drive a backhoe through your cemetery, I would be arrested, I would be in jail.”


February 23, 2009

In The Digital Age


The digital age has been put on hold.  Due to an economic hurricane in the northern hemisphere. 


In the age of media, the world had lost a lot of its freshness.  With recorded music.  With things on “tape.” 


The recorded age of sound and video.  It had changed a generation.  Actually two or three generations.  The idea of nostalgia centers more and more on songs, television, and movies.  And nostalgia has an affect with the world of sports which have been recorded.  Actors, actresses, quarterbacks, pitchers, are the new gods, having had their images on the walls of youth, replacing statues and/or icons of holy people from another age. 


Each household seemed to have an ability to freeze time.  With cameras and camcorders.  And in a sense there has been a loss of spontaneity, a loss of freshness.  Have you watched an interview with an athlete lately?


Banks.  In a sense banks helped freeze money and surplus income.  Saved surplus, not “invested” in companies.  But money set aside without any appreciation that one day a power outage would come.  Frozen assets.  But food in the freezer goes bad at times of power outages.  And maybe too much had been stored there in the first place.  Stored out of fear of the day of famine?  Stored out of convenience?  Stored as a way to manipulate destiny, but with a bit of humility discarded.  Control.  Monetary policy, mine, the government’s, was about control.  Human control had replaced natural law?  With a loss of humility as a result. 

September 24, 2008

The Needy

Rescue.  In the 19th century there was a town along the rough seas of New England.  There was a crew of volunteers assembled much like towns in the Midwest had volunteer fire departments.  When those nord easterners came in with the wind howling, tearing up watercraft, these brave volunteers went out to sea. 


This week Congress is being asked, “Who are you gonna save?”  Apparently the number of people involved was shocking.  The Democrats were worried that their constituencies would be left out in the cold.  The folks in charge of the rescue seemed for now to be Republicans.  The difference between the present day Washington rescue and that New England rescue was that the volunteers involved put their own lives on the line.  In Washington, Congress was putting someone else’s dollars on the line. 


Here it is only a question of boats.  As September 2008 rolled along, the message seemed to be “You’re gonna need more boats, bigger boats.” 


If you think this is bad, think of the end of the world.  The story on Wall Street these days was all about salvation.  A lot of people talked about being saved, with sermons by preachers sounding something out of science fiction.  Suddenly salvation, rescue in an era of reality shows, was real. 


And hearts are beating faster. 


July 24, 2008


Contractions:  Something we’ve had here all along.  Was it back in 2001 as far as the Minnesota Twins, the Montreal Expos?  Contraction was back in the news in another way.  Only this time it involved the newspaper. The Star Trib.  Yet no one was offering them $150 million just to pack up and call it a career. 


 It was in the Phillipines that I discovered the weak made me feel stronger.  More worthy.  I counted my blessings better.  Surrounded by greatness, by the celebrated in education, in business, in sports in my life, I felt humble.  But when you fell short, you failed to recognize a lot about yourself.  You felt challenged.  It was a lot like the Yankee series that just ended.  The Twins seemed to have proved this point the past 3 days.  Surrounded by greatness, they failed to remember the fundamental things about themselves and the game. 


Inferiority complexes.  Ego strength.  Girls.  Bad self-image?  Sleeping around.  Moral relativism.  Was it all based upon the human feeling that I was a sinner?


The things you teach.  You set up schools.  You pass on a tradition.  These days, there was a lot of relativism in public eduction, and has been over the past generation.  Read Alan Bloom’s Closing of the American Mind. 


The things you teach.  You set up schools.  The feast of Ignatius Loyola was in less than 7 days.  He worked on spiritual exercises to try to teach people to really pray.  Then he found an answer on how by establishing a curricula in schools.  His answer was in school.  There were now something like 28 Jesuit institutions of higher learning.  The trend now was to set up middle schools.  For those who could not reach the university level.  For those who never quite learned how to pray with their lives. 


There was a sense of panic within these days.  About the world.      


Today’s reading at Mass began, “The disciples approached Jesus and said, ‘Why do you speak to the crowd in parables?’” 


Stories.  It was about the stories.  Why did I buy the Star Trib?  To read stories.  To try and understand.  To be aware of the world and my place in it.  Something we’ve had here all along.  It was why people hugged at funerals, clinging to who and what was left. 

June 11, 2008

Ut Unum Sint

Filed under: Media,newspapers,Religion — baseball91 @ 3:10 AM

Over the past two weeks, my attention has been focused on things that move us in daily life.  My German made car was not working.  This car made in Bavaria had a cooling fan, necessary in a car that might otherwise overheat, and this fan was not always shutting down.  It took a while to diagnose what was wearing down the battery. 


I live in a metropolitan area that last summer had a major bridge collapse over the Mississippi River.  Since the time of the bridge collapse, the Minnesota Department of Transportation has been doing a lot more bridge inspections.  They found another gusset plate issue in Winona a few days ago.  Suddenly another bridge was not moving the local populace.  The modern human gives little though to crossing bridges until the bridge no was no longer there to move the locals, where the metric intervals to Wisconsin were turned into extra miles to commute. 




Over the past two weeks, my attention has been focused on things that move us in daily life.  My German made car was not working.  This car made in Bavaria had a cooling fan, necessary in a car that might otherwise overheat, and this fan was not always shutting down.  It took a while to diagnose what was wearing down the battery. 


I live in a metropolitan area that last summer had a major bridge collapse over the Mississippi River.  Since the time of the bridge collapse, the Minnesota Department of Transportation has been doing a lot more bridge inspections.  They found another gusset plate issue in Winona a few days ago.  Suddenly another bridge was not moving the local populace.  The modern human gives little thought to crossing bridges until the bridge no was no longer there to move the locals, where the metric intervals to Wisconsin were turned into extra miles to commute. 


I have been focused this spring on the local newspaper.  I come from a family where my father’s first job was that of a journalist.  Three of his five children had gone to college, majoring in journalism.  And suddenly like never before, we were all looking at another kind of gusset plates to make sure the newspaper in town was stationary and kept on unifying the community, moving us to a destination. 


In March I had received a book, Vanishing Ireland. There was a concern in Europe about a vanishing world, as Europeans struggled to live in a secular world with their Christian past. Vanishing Ireland was not a book so much about vanishing Catholics in Ireland as a vanishing way of life.  The Catholics were still there.  But the meaning and purpose of a Catholic identity in the vanishing world of Europe Union was a concern to clerical leaders.  Vanishing Christianity, whatever the denomination, was faced with a shortage of clergy for the next generation.  It had happened and was continuing to happen.  But why?


Mortar was the thing that held a building together.  Newspapers, churches did the same thing for the identity of a community.  Whereas gusset plates had a hard time in these parts holding the weight on an increased number of cars and the increased weight of the things that things that moved us like SUVs, mortar still did its job with buildings. 


During World War II, they drank “ersatz coffee” in Europe, in Italy.  It was not the real deal.  In the new millennium I have gotten a sense that the current Popes have carried with them a sense of “ersatz infallibility,” so that even routine administration seems like an exercise of infallibility.  That was also mentioned in a speech yesterday delivered by outgoing president of the Catholic Theological Society of America, Margaret O’Gara. 


I was hopeful that issues of differences in the Christian world between papal primacy and papal infallibility would give way to the wisdom of a theologian who had spent too much of his life dwelling over the gusset plates that most people did not want to have to worry about.  Most of us just wanted church and theology to be the thing that moves us in daily life, that we might go about our business.  For Christians, the mortar of Christian identity was in the message of Jesus Christ that God is love.  The lesson here over the past few months was that it was the bridge and not the parts that united humanity in our struggle, and brought us ALL together. 


Maybe when you were pope in the remnants of what had been the Papal States, you were still caught up in temporal matters and power struggles.  Divide and conquer.  It had never been so much the dogma coming forth from Vatican City as the bridge carrying us to God that people cared about.  It has been a long time that the real world had cared about the dogma.


There is a concern here in Minnesota about the inter-structure and our bridges, with the cost to maintain them.  The problems in Vatican City would seem to be about the same.  What would it mean in 30 years this Catholic identity unless the spotlight was put on what needed to be done on another kind of inner structure which would have an affect on Catholics for the generations to come.

June 10, 2008

Global Positioning Systems & Vanishing Ireland

Except for the high holidays, my brother-in-law did not attend church.  You know.  The one when there was food and drink afterwards.  We were all Irish Catholics.  And he was my weather vane to the modern world.  No one thought they were better than he was, based on matters strictly of worship.  It was just the way the world was becoming. 


This same brother-in-law has retinitis pigmentosa.  After a process over at least the ten years, he is for all practical purposes blind.  We gave him a global position system for his birthday this weekend so he did not get lost.  Apparently family members worried that he would get lost at the age of 59.  I wondered if he really wanted it.  I wondered if this was like a book someone bought me, something I never would read.  Like the book his wife gave me for a birthday.  1000 Places to see Before You Die.  Dan Neil’s article within the past week in the LA Times was featured on National Public Radio today concerning “endangered places.”  The clock is ticking on the fabled snows of Mt. Kilimanjaro, and the white water of Patagonia’s Futaleufu River is threatened.  The World Wildlife Fund is collecting money to save the Bering Sea.  And Condé Nast Traveler’s is worried about the future of the Swiss glaciers before global climate change causes them to vanish.  Rich people are afraid that they will be limited in the future in their vacations? 


The irony of the concern over lost places for tourism is a recent book I purchased called Vanishing Ireland.  The Celtic Tiger had eroded a way of life.  Or something had.  It was just the way the world was becoming. 


What was really vanishing? I had been to Ireland twice.  I was of the generation whose social formation was guided by television.  And for the generation after me social formation was guided even more by the media.  I am not sure if it was as much the economy’s impact on the towns and counties of geographic Ireland as it was what had changed with people here over the same period of time. 

In 1993, I had stayed at a bed & breakfast in Kilkenny sixteen years after my first trip.  The place was operated by a woman in her seventies.  Mrs. Hefferan was long-time divorced.  And Ireland at the time was in the midst of an election campaign whether divorce should be legally recognized in her country.  In the course of a breakfast on a Sunday morning, Mrs. Hefferan revealed what was special about Kilkenny.  It was her stories about the man she married.  It had not been an unhappy experience for her.  She just explained what happened on an island, to an American and a French woman over tea, whether to men or to dogs.  After years of breeding, she felt they inevitably just got high strung.  But still Irish men and Irish setters were appreciated the world over for their companionship.  Much as I had appreciated this rather unique Lady Hefferan.



Vanishing Ireland was not so much a degeneration of the vision of Ireland that tourists and natives always had.  Rather, in the world where the media had such an impact now on social formation, the challenge was in finding original characters.  Like Mrs. Hefferan.  Or like Captain Jack who I once met on my very first family vacation in 1967 with my dad.  I had thought about my dad and the people not that he met on vacation but folks that he knew.  Did media erode the chance to meet real characters that had surrounded my dad’s life, people that he had found without a global position system?

April 4, 2008

On Politics, Religion

Filed under: Current Affairs,History,Ireland,news,on politics,on religion,Religion — baseball91 @ 6:12 PM

I think of the line from the play of Westside story.  “Hold my hand and we’re half-way there.”  That was the basis of marriage, forming community, forming nations. 

The story was about identities in conflict.  The story of all of the 20th century was that of young people unable to control their identities.  That was gangs organized either in ethnic community, based upon religion….based upon nationalities.  

The Polish feeling about Russia.  The Irish feeling toward the Brits.  And now the feeling about 1.4 billion Muslims about the American presence in Iraq, as part of the war on terror.  With this presence, terrorism is inflamed, not contained.  This was the reality of politics and religion, with fault lines that only the locals knew where they were. 





We were all in gangs in conflict…..To start the 21st Century it was religion, if you had one, in conflict.  Or even if you did not. 

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