30 September 2009

Getting it Right

Still working on an article that no one will ever read for an encyclopedia that no one will ever buy, I just came across a few marvelous articles on the Blackfeet Nation's newly designed website. Last week, the site had a modest welcome page and no links. Today, the site seems almost complete.

The writing about Blackfeet history is fresh, fervent, and perhaps well-described as Blackfeet Nationalist. Under "Our History," the site offers an article, "We Come From Right Here." I had to read this as quickly as possible because I've long known that the Piegan Blackfeet insist they have been in Montana 10,000 years, while most books state they were migrating southwest fresh from the Canadian Prairies about the time they fell into a fight with Lewis and Clark on the explorers' return from Oregon in 1806. Some of the history books put the Blackfeet in Montana a century or two before that.
But scholars write books and give lectures and huff and puff about times in which they never lived, worlds into which they never stepped foot, and languages they can never hear spoken by the ancients they study. As an example of how little is really known about Indians in the pre-Columbian period, experts can’t even agree if the population of the Americas was 8 million or 112 million. If they know so little that they can’t get within an order of magnitude of each other, why bother guessing about anything else?
"We Come From Right Here"
The link may change, and the text, too. The site is still under construction. Readers of this blog may know what I think of these population figures. If not, click the "depopulation" link below and read away.

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