Thursday, November 28, 2013


Christal Cooper – 613 Words
Facebook @ Christal Ann Rice Cooper

Thanksgiving In Pictures

The Mayflower was a cargo ship about 106 feet long and 25 feet wide.  It traveled about two miles per hour and covered 3000 miles, two months worth of sailing. The passengers totaled 102 with 50 men, 20 women, and 32 children.

They were all coming to the New World (America) to begin new lives.  Some came to escape the religious persecution, and   others came to start a livelihood since England at the time was facing huge unemployment.

       Samoset was the first Native American Indian to greet the Colonists, and he greeted them in English, which he was fluent in.    Samoset learned the language from fisherman and other explorers who had come to the New World years before.  Samoset was described as very tall with long black hair.   He stayed with the Colonists for several days.

The third time Samoset visited the Colonists, Squanto was by his side.  Squanto had been kidnapped by an English seaman and was sold in Spain to be a slave.  Years later, when he was free, he made his way to England, where he lived and worked for five years.  When he returned back to his homeland, he found that his entire village, the Patuxet Tribe, was deserted.  Everyone had died or became members of other tribes in order to survive. 

Squanto taught the Colonists how to survive by planting corn and using dead fish as fertilizer. He was not always the romanticized, good Native American Indian.  Sometimes he would deliberately misinterpret conversations where it benefited him the most.  His goal was to be an important native leader.  In the end, when he died, he got his ultimate wish, and the colonists viewed him as “an instrument of God.”

Chief Massasoit was a powerful leader of the Wampanoag.  Chief Massasoit and the Colonists met, and were able to have a peaceful discussion, with the help of Squanto as interpreter.  Chief Massasoit and the Colonists signed a treaty together.  They promised to return anything that was stolen, and vowed to defend each other from enemy attacks.

Edward Winslow was the leader of the Mayflower.  He served as the governor of Plymouth Colony in 1633, 1636, and 1644.  His testimony in Mourt’s Relation is one of only two primary sources of the “first thanksgiving” in existence.  Below is an excerpt:

"Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruits of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as,  with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king, Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three day days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty."

       Thanksgiving never became a holiday until 1863 due to the efforts of editor and writer Sarah Hale trying to get Thanksgiving declared a holiday.  It took her twenty years, pleading of five presidents, before President Abraham Lincoln finally made the first Thanksgiving holiday in November of 1863.
In 1941, The United States Congress voted to have Thanksgiving holiday a yearly holiday, the fourth Thursday of the month of November.

Photo  Description and Copyright Info

Photo 1.
Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor.  Public Domain. 

Photo 2.
Samoset in the 1850s.  Attributed to Leeback.  Public Domain.

Photo 3.
Squanto.  Public Domain.

Photo 4.
Statue of Chief Massasoit.  Public Domain.

Photo 5.
Jacket cover of by Massasoit of the Wampanoags by Alivn G Weeks.

Photo 6.
Edward Winslow.  Public Domain.

Photo 7.
The First Thanksgiving.  Public Domain.

Photo 8.
Sarah Hale.  Public Domain.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Forgotten Heroes: From American Revolution to Vietnam

Christal Cooper – 897 Words
Facebook @ Christal Ann Rice Cooper

The Forgotten Heroes:
From the American Revolution to Vietnam

         Whenever we think of the typical veteran we envision a white male with a high school education in a middle class blue-collar family.  People fail to realize that another group of people sacrificed as much, if not more, in order to aid the United States in maintaining their soverienty.  Native Americans not only enlisted in the military, but they had to fight their own government for the right to defend a country that was originally theirs long before the European influence arrived.

  Why would a group of people want to fight for a government that violated their whole race, took away their land and freedom?  German Minister Propaganda Josef Paul Goebbels felt the same way.  In fact, he was so certain that the Native Americans would never side with the United States, that in 1941, he predicted the Native Americans would revolt against the United States on behalf of Nazi Germany.  He couldn’t have been farther from the truth.  Native Americans joined the military with a one hundred per cent registration rate, which has set the standard for America.

         The Native American desiring to serve his and her country was not new in World War II.  The Native Americans aided the United States in its wars as far back as the American Revolution when the Creeks and Cherokees helped the colonials in defeating the English. 

From the 1860s to the 1880s the United States Army used the Crow, Pawnee, and Apache as scouts in battle against the Plains Tribes.  Native Americas were also recruited in the Civil War by both sides in very large numbers.  

In 1898, Native Americans fought with the United States in the Spanish-American War.  During World War I, over 12,000 Native Americans, 85% of them volunteers, served in the military forces.

Oklahoma Congressman Jed Joseph Johnson, who served with the American Indians in World War I as a private said, “I served with many full-blood Indians and part-Indians during World War I in France.  I saw them in action in the front lines and I was deeply impressed with their valor and courage.  There were no better or braver soldier than were the American Indians.”

Soon, the Native Americans enlisted the aid of Indian Affairs Commissioner John Collier when they were denied entry into the military due to lack of education and lack of ability to understand the English language.  In other words, the Native Americans were being discriminated by the process of registration. 

By October 1941, the registration process for the Native American had slightly improved.  At that time 1,785 Native Americans were in the armed forces. 

The Navajo tribe, who were described as being intelligent and having the strong desire to serve their country, were denied registration due to their 85% population illiteracy rate.  The Selective Service promised that the Navajo would no longer be rejected, but no action had been taken for a year.  Finally, the War Department agreed to locate former Indian Service personnel and assign them to literacy training of the Navajo people.  The Army Air Force instituted a literacy program from 1942-1943 in New Jersey. 

The Navajo, despite the fact that they claimed a large rejection rate of forty-five percent, responded to the nation’s need by sending 3000 people, six percent of their population, into the military service.

         Indians were so hungry to fight on behalf of the United States that when the Alaska registration draft occurred, Eskimos (Siberian Yupiks, or Yuits) from the Soviet Union came to register to the American Army.  They were tactfully denied and told that they must enlist in the Russian Army instead.

         Over 5000 Native Americans enrolled in the Army, the Navy, the Coast Guard, and the National Guard prior to Pearl Harbor.  After World War II was declared by the United States, 800 Navajo men out of 3,600 enlisted in one day.  One fourth of the Mescalero Apaches in New Mexico enlisted.  Wisconsin Chippewa at the Lac Oreilles Reservation contributed one hundred men from the population of 1700.  The enlistment of the Native American population had reached an all time high of 22,000 in 1945.  After the war ended the Indian Bureau officials stated that 24,521 American Indians not including officers served in the armed forces, and another 20,000 off-reservation Indians also had enlisted, which combined to be a total figure of 44,500, comprising more than 10% of the Native American population of 400,000. 

         Native Americans had many reasons for desiring to serve in the military, which included earning better pay to escape a poverty situation to being honored by their tribe for bravery.  The most stated reason by the Native American was due to patriotism. 

Raymond Nakai, ex-Navajo Code Talker, stated that the reason why Indians entered the war is due to patriotism:  “We are proud to be American Indians.  We always stand when our country needs us.”

         More than 80% of the Native Americans who are Vietnam Veterans saw some type of combat duty by being assigned military occupations that almost guaranteed their direct participation in battle.  

     Native American Veterans, especially Vietnam Veterans are not recognized for their service except by their own people.  During Vietnam, the Native Americans fought in numbers exceeding their proportional population.  At the time of the war the Native Americans made up less than 1% of the Vietnam troops.  

Writer Jere Bishop Franco says it best: “Indians had become one of America’s greatest weapons.”


Photo 1.
Pencil sketch of Joseph Louis Cook, who was an Iroquois leader and soldier for the Continental Army during the American Revolution.  Attributed to John Trumbull.  Public Domain.

Photo 2.
Guyasuta probably served as a scout for young George Washington in 1753.  Public Domain.

Photo 3.
Ely S. Parker was a Union Civil War General who wrote the terms of surrender between the United States and the Confederate States of America.  Parker was one of two Native Americans to reach the rank of Brigadier General during the Civil War.  Public Domain.

Photo 4.
Native Americans being sworn in for the Civil War.  Public Domain.

Photo 5.     
Stand Watie was the only Indian with the rank of general in the Confederate Army.  Public Domain.

Photo 6.
Oklahoma Representative Jed Joseph Johnson.  Public Domain.

Photo 7.
Left to right: Senator Elmer Thomas, Chairman of the Committee; Claude M. Hirst, Director of the Office of Indian affairs in Alaska; and John Collier, U.S. Commissioner of Indian Affairs on February 7, 1937.  Atrributed to Harris & Ewing.  Library of Congress photo.  Public Domain.

Photo 8.  
WW I Choctow paitent.  .  Attributed to U.S. National Library of Medicine Public Domain.

Photo 9.
En route to Okinawa, PFC Joe Hosteen Kelwood of Steamboat Canyon, Ganado, Arizona; Pvt Floyd Saupitty of Lawton, Oklahoma (a Comanche); and PFC Alex Williams of Red Lake, Leupp, Arizona. Between 400-500 Native American “code talkers” served in the United States Marine Corps in the Pacific Theater. Their job was primarily to transmit secret tactical messages by using a coded language. This coded language was built upon their native languages and sent over military telephone or radios.  Marine Corps Archives and Special Collections.

Photo 10.
Choctow Code Talkers.  Photo courtesy of the Oklahoma Historical Society.  Public Domain.

Photo 11.
Navajo Code Talkers.  Attributed to an employee of the U.S. Navy working on behalf of the U.S. government.  Public Domain.

Photo 12.
Siberian Yupiks, or Yuits, are indigenous people who reside along the coast of the Chukchi Peninsula in the far northeast of the Russian Federation and on St. Lawrence Island in Alaska. They speak Central Siberian Yupik (also known as Yuit), a Yupik language of the Eskimo–Aleut family of languages.  Russia:  Public Domain.

Photo 13.
General Douglas MacArthur , Commander-in-Chief, standing with representatives of five Native American Indian tribes in one United States Army unit.   From left to right:  Sgt. Virgin Bronw (Pima);  Sgt Virgil P Howe (Pawnee); Sgt Alvin Vilcan (Chitmatcha); General MacArthur; Sgt. Byron L Tsignine (Navajo); and Sgt Larry Dekin (Navajo).  Janury 3, 1944.  United Staes Corps Photo.   Public Domain.

Photo 14.
American Indian women too have joined the fighting forces against Germany and Japan. These three are members of the U.S. Marine Corps. They are [left to right] Minnie Spotted Wolf of the Blackfeet, Celia Mix, Potawatomi, and Violet Eastman, Chippewa.  October 16, 1943 in Camp Lejeune, North CarolinaNational Archives and Records Administration.  Public Domain.

Photo 15.
Raymond Nakai

Photo 16.
Mitchell Red Cloud Jr., a member of the Ho-Chunk tribe, was a soldier in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. Red Cloud died holding back a surprise onslaught of enemy forces, giving his company time to prepare its defenses. He was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for his courageous action in battle.  U.S. National Library of Medicine.  Public Domain.

Photo 17.
Billy Walkabout.  Vietnam Veteran. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Feature on author of "the museum of atheism" Laura Ellen Joyce.

Christal Cooper – 1,427 Words
Facebook @ Christal Ann Rice Cooper  

Laura Ellen Joyce’s
“the museum of atheism”
Drenched In Purple Dye
“I was working with a student who studied dentistry.  I took notes for her during sessions where she cut things up and looked at them under the microscope. There were large screens around the lab, which broadcast cheek cells and saliva particles and other things. They were all drenched in purple dye. I think of that lab when I think of the book.”

Writer Laura Ellen Joyce’s first memory is when she was just a child.  She had been asleep in the home she shared with her family and a lodger.  When she awoke she was confused and wondered throughout the house.

       “I  tried to go up to the attic room where the lodger stayed.  The stair carpet was zebra-patterned and it scared me.  The door was locked so I went downstairs.  I had been dreaming of a skyscraper-sized bright-light that had my name in high rainbow letters.”

       Joyce’s first memory as a child is in essence the condition of each of her characters in her book The Museum of Atheism (

     Each character is searching for something, some how lost, wandering in a deep dark wilderness, the goal of finding a missing girl.  Yet, in this novella, there is the sense of the familiar – a case similar to JonBenet Ramsey, yet entirely different;  a cast of characters that seem similar but are so three dimensional and complex that each character, including the setting,  takes a life of its own, haunting the reader long after the last page has been read. 

Perhaps what makes these characters and setting so three dimensional and so hauntingly similar but mysterious, is that it is a reflection of humanity – nothing is as clear as it seems;  nothing is as similar as it seems; and in the end, even surrounded by a skyscraper-sized bright light, there is still darkness, even amongst the rainbows.

       Joyce was born in Birmingham, England in 1981.  Her mother would take on extra work on the weekends, leaving the little girl, aged 7, at home.

       “She would leave a set of writing instructions to keep me occupied while she was gone.  I used to turn what I wrote into books.  One that sticks in my mind is a book about a girl who pretends to be a boy and is humiliated at school.”

Joyce has always held a fascination and
compassion for those individuals considered to be the outsiders of society.   Her interest on outsiders extended to her choice of reading material.  As a preteen she read the works of Edgar Allen Po and Stephen King.  As a teenager she was an avid reader of trashy true crime pieces about cannibals and serial killers.  Her research interests include horror and extreme cinema. 

Later, she was influenced by Jean Rhys, Henry Darger and Urs Allemann.  

The Greek Tragedies were huge influences on her as a writer, specifically when it came to structure.  

PJ Harvey gave a voice to the psychotic woman and it is this voice that suffuses her work.

       In college she studied classical civilization and ancient history.  She received her Masters of Arts in creative writing from Manchester University.  Presently, she is almost finished with her PhD in literature and creative writing at Sussex University and she teaches literature and creative writing at York St. John University.  Her thesis focus is on creative writing, critical writing, and radical new writing, which she defines as writing which has a subversive intent and which exists beyond commercial concerns. 

       “The thesis aims to link creative and critical writing rather than create distinctions.  My project is in the form of a manifesto, which is linked to a novella. I use critical theory to interrogate both sides of the work.”

       Joyce also discusses in her thesis the connection of banality and horror crime scenes that take place in tract housing, trailers, shopping centers, public schools, and motels. 

       While earning her Bachelors, Masters, and PhD degrees, Joyce supported herself by doing a variety of jobs:  office jobs, children’s librarian, gallery assistant, academic support worker, and a creative writing tutor in a psychiatric hospital.
     More recently she worked as project coordinator on the
AHRC/ University of Sussex Project:  Global Queer Cinema, which she worked on for fifteen months while in graduate school. 

       “I am still engaged with the project and it was an honor to be part of it.   It was set up by Rosalind Galt and Karl Schoonover, and I worked on it in a supporting role alongside Catherine Grant who runs Film Studies for Free (  The project brought together academics, filmmakers, and activists working on global queer cinema.  We have a website ( which has some really wonderful critical essays.  We had several public events and slots at film festivals.  The research that the project developed is ongoing.”

       Joyce’s idea for writing the Museum of Atheism came by watching the news about JonBenet Ramsey who was killed in her Colorado in December of 1997. 

       “I was obsessed with JonBenet Ramsey. I wanted to write a story, which implicated us all in her murder. I want to be implicated as the writer and everyone who reads it to be implicated as well. I had written lots of sketches and then thinking about her brought it all together for me.”

       The Museum of Atheism tells the last 24 hours, Christmas Eve, of the life of a murdered six-year-old beauty queen named Ava Wilde, who lives with her parents, a lodger, and an older brother in a mountainous isolated prison community.  There are 25 chapters, each chapter representing different mushrooms and describing how each mushrooms looks, affects humans when consumed, and grows in the dark dirt. 

The structure of the book can be compared to The Secret Life of Bees –each chapter has a small entry about bees and how they live. 

“I wanted to offer a mixture of real and fictional mushrooms and properties. It was one of the fun parts. I like taxonomies and categories as a means of constraint to write against.”

The novel is divided into five parts: 
Mushroom Soil, Part One:”   “Playing Doctor, Part two:”  “The Museum of Atheism, Part Three:”  “Realflesh;” and “Part Four:  Playing Dead.” 

There are a total of twenty-five chapters – twenty-four of the twenty-five chapters represents an hour on Christmas Eve, 2000.  The exception is the “Part Two:  The Museum of Atheism,” which takes place on October 1, 2000 at 7 p.m.

“I planned the novel hour by hour and wrote it in chronological order over the course of a month. I then had excellent feedback from several readers and my editor. I was studying and working at the time so  it was a very intense period - I wrote every day and didn’t stop until it was done. I took my laptop everywhere and any time I had a spare minute I turned it on.”

       Some think the novella is poetic (Joyce is a fan of Anne Sexton), or literary, but Joyce likes to describe it in more simpler terms – that of a horror novel.

“I tried to loosely categorize the stuff I was working on and I thought it could be called party horror - because I like to combine kitsch and glitter and people getting wrecked with the more straight down the line horror elements. I’m influenced by stuff like Carrie and The Virgin Suicides and Gerald’s Party by Robert Coover. They’re all party horror.”

One could describe The Museum of Atheism as many things, but, according to Joyce, didactic should never be one of them.

“In a more general sense I’m interested in revealing the violence that underpins human interaction. In this specific story I wanted to consider how ‘innocents’ are treated - both the JonBenet  figure and Daniel, the suspected pedophile. I hadn’t then read it, but now I feel retrospectively influenced by Tiqqun’s Theory of the Young Girl and think of the JonBenet figure as a metaphor for the violence of capitalism. Sexual abuse and misogyny haunt murder stories and I wanted to make some attempt at dismantling the more formulaic representations of gendered violence by drawing attention to how those tropes work.”

       The Museum of Atheism was published by Salt Publishing ( on November 15, 2012.   The book is also available on Amazon. ( 

Her new novella The Luminol Reets will be published by Calamari Press ( in 2014.

       Joyce is presently the Lecturer of literature and creative writing at York St. John University and resides in Leeds, United Kingdom. 

Photo Description and Copyright Information

Photo 1, 2, 3, 14, 16, 17, 28, and 38
Laure Ellen Joyce.  Copyright by Laura Ellen Joyce.

Photo 4 and 5.
Jacket covers of Museum of Atheism.

Photo 6.
Laura Ellen Joyce, age 3.  Copyright by Laura Ellen Joyce.

Photo 7.
Edgar Allen Poe.  Somewhat retouched and with transparent background. Original daguerreotype taken by Edwin H. Manchester, photographer employed by the Masury & Hartshorn firm (second floor of 25 Westminster Street) of Providence, Rhode Island, on the morning of November 9th, 1848.  Public Domain.

Photo 8.
Stephen King on February 24, 2007

Photo 9.
Jean Rhys.  Public Domain.

Photo 10.
Henry Darger.
This is one of 3 existing photographs of Henry Darger taken by David Berglund.
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law.

Photo 12.
Jacket cover of The Greek Tragedies Volume 1

Photo 13.
PJ Harvey performing live at the O2 Apollo in Manchester, United Kingdom on Thursday, 8 September 2011.  Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Photo 15. 25, 29, and 30
Laura Ellen Joyce reading from Museum of Atheism.   Copyright by Laura Ellen Joyce.

Photo 18.
Laura Ellen Joyce and GCSC art project.  Copyright by Laura Ellen Joyce.

Photo 19.
Rosalind Gault

Photo 21.
Global Queer Cinema website masthead.

Photo 22.
Catherine Grant.   Copyright by Catherine Grant.

Photo 23.

Photo 24.
JonBennet Ramsey.  Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law.

Photo 26.
Deathcap Mushrooms.  Attributed to Stanislaw Skowron.  Public Domain.

Photo 27.
The Secret Life of Bees jacket cover.

Photo 31.
Description: Portrait of Anne Sexton (1928-1974), photographed in her home circa 1970
Photographer: Elsa Dorfman (born April 26, 1937)
Fair Use Rationale.

Photo 32.
Carrie jacket cover.

Photo 33.
Virgin Suicides jacket cover.

Photo 34.
Gerald’s Party jacket cover.

Photo 35.
Tiqqun’s Theory of the Young Girl jacket cover.

Photo 36.
Salt Publishing website masthead

Photo 37.
Calamari Press website masthead.