Last of the Apaches

Geronimo, a Feared Warrior
Whose Skull May Be Missing

A century and three days ago today, the chief native American known as Geronimo passed away of pneumonia at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. He died a prisoner, having surrendered to the U.S. in 1886. But revisions about the conquest of the West, the circumstances of his life and even his name had already started way before his death.
Even among other distinguished tribal chiefs, the man born in 1829 as Goyathlay occupies his own place in the origins of this nation. And as such, personifies the ambivalence, misconception and extreme brutality that marked its unification.
Geronimo fought both Mexican and U.S. armies and became know for his bravery and rebellious spirit. But as ‘Indians’ were considered then devoid of soul or natural rights, and as European descendants began to outnumber the native tribes of North America, their fate was already sealed even before the first clash between them started.
In his long and storied life, which outlasted some of his many wives and children, he went from feared leader in combat to the tamed, most valuable captive prize of the American army at that time. He managed to dictate his memories in the end and became a sort of a minor celebrity. But he was never to set foot again on the land of his birth, in Gila River, Bedonkoheland.
To many, the genesis of his rebelliousness, against what was perceived by native Americans as the occupation forces of European descendants, can be traced back to a bloody attack by a company of Mexican soldiers Continue reading

Cold Turkey

A Bird With Multiple Names, Two
Countries & Some Holiday Mash

This was supposed to be the definitive post on why turkeys are called turkeys, what they have to do with Turkey and Peru, and why would anyone care about it.
Instead, it turned out to be just another holiday stupor, a tipsy search on the Internet and a million half-funny comments on why no one seems to have a clear idea.
So, risking making the article almost shorter than its headline, let’s just cover the highlights, while we check the oven and get properly loaded before the guests have parked at the curb.
Americans (including William Burroughs) hold Thanksgiving very dear to their hearts because the holiday is based on a historical folktale and, to this day, it’s still a family gathering by excellence in ways religious dates could never be.
Granted, at this point in time, it’s no longer all about the turkey. Aunts have various dietary needs. Some care only for the sweet potatoes and cranberry jam. And children became vegan and will have their own Tofurkey.
The cooking frenzy that used to animate families of yore have since lost Continue reading

L’Enfant Savage

This Ancient, Mysterious Book
May Have Been Written by a Boy

There are just a few things we like better than books. Like rare books. Mysterious, single-edition books. Books no one knows who wrote them, or what they’re really all about.
We told you about the Voynich Manuscript. Still impenetrable, despite efforts of the best minds of our time. Legendary cryptologists and code breakers, all have tried their hand at it and they all failed.
Now, here’s another one: Le Livre des Sauvages, which like the Voynich, also seems to have come to light years after it was written. But apart from that and the fact that it remains Continue reading

Penn State Bisontennial

Females Are Off the Pill
To Save Historical Herd

When bison from the Lehigh County’s heritage was introduced to Schnecksville, Pennsylvania, one hundred years ago, the animal was still associated to its iconic role in the conquest of the West and visceral connection to native American culture. By then, the 50-plus million population that early Europeans settlers had encountered in North America was already considerably reduced and by 1890, the species was on the verge of extinction. It took an Continue reading