Literacy and Liberty

Investigative Article Intro-Logan Cort
Posted by: , November 18, 2018, 7:15 pm
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Guiding Questions:

How were the values of the Carlisle Indian School depicted in the first volume of Eadle Keatah Toh?

What do these newspapers suggest about the reality of what was happening at the CIS?

The founding of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School is consistently described in the same way in most every source as a new attempt to solve “the Indian Problem.” The Carlisle solution to this so-called problem was Richard Henry Pratt’s idea “to take the red man out of his environment and to teach him the rudiments of modern life in a civilized com¬munity” (Burnhouse 1939). The key to the school’s mission was education, specifically an education that would help to elevate Native American children to the same level of ‘usefulness’ as the white man, a misguided mission with even more misguided methods. Students at the Carlisle Indian School were effectively white-washed and taught skills meant to help in their roles in the white man’s world. One of the jobs taught to a select few of the school’s best students (add citation) was that of type-setting. The selected type-setters would lay the text for the school’s publications and basic correspondence. A year after the school’s founding, Pratt established a newspaper titled the Eadle Keatah Toh. The paper, clearly written for a white readership was printed in English, at first, by a single Native student. The paper was published almost individually for a white readership, and it is ironic that a native student would be the one to be setting the type for a newspaper he most likely could not read well and was not welcome to read. The first year of the Eadle Keatah Toh is a metaphor for the school’s interest in helping its students who were taught passively and brutally in a way that was not in their interest but the interest of the success and ego of the school’s white faculty and administration.

Specialized Vocabularies
Posted by: , November 14, 2018, 1:26 pm
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Throughout high school, my roommates came from all over the place. I had one from the U.A.E., one from New Delhi, one from West Virginia, but the one that I was closest too was my junior year roommate from The Bahamas. I noticed quickly that he always spoke to me in the exact same way all my other friends did, but once he got on the phone with one of his parents, it was like he was almost speaking another language. It wasn’t after hearing this several times that I finally asked him about it. People in the Bahamas speak English, but they speak a dialect of English that eliminates the end of most words that end in vowels and forgoes the verb “to be” in almost every case. Along with that, there were phrases and idioms that I had never heard anyone but him use. It really threw me off the first time he shouted “Mudda sick,” which I eventually figured out meant something along the lines of you’ve gotta be kidding me.

It all seemed kind of novel to me until I went home with him one summer, I might as well have been an elementary schooler learning phrases and new meanings in the language I had always known, I mean who uses the phrase “spry” to mean sprinkling rain?  On my flight home I started thinking about how we think of people native to other countries as frequently switching languages at home and every  and again we remember that African Americans code switch often, but ever since my trip the Bahamas I have been wondering about all of the other versions of English I haven’t heard yet.

An Investigation into the Eadle Keatah Toh
Posted by: , November 6, 2018, 7:53 pm
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While I was working on my textual analysis of the Carlisle Indian school newspaper, I noticed something tiny that captured my curiosity. Within descriptions of the ‘success’ and internal employment of  the school’s students there were two mentions of a student that was employed as a type-setter for the Eadle Keahtah Toh school newspaper.

Before newspaper printing was an automated process, each and every page had to be set letter-by-letter before it could be printed in mass number. The job was extremely tedious and a very skilled task. The fact that the school employed one of its native students in this role is surprising for multiple reasons. The job of a typesetter was seen as an expert and craftsman-like task, even as a job that took apprentice training up until just before this time period. Most of the rolls the school was giving its students were extremely simple and menial as they saw their students as unable to perform much else. Secondly, the Eadle Keatah Toh was published almost individually for a white readership, and it seems ironic that a native student would be the one to be setting the type for a newspaper he most likely could not and was not welcome to read.

With this as a starting point, I would like to investigate how the Carlisle Indian schools and its policies and attitudes are reflected in their campus produced newspaper.

A Tiny Piece of Metal
Posted by: , October 2, 2018, 8:43 pm
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So, I visited the Colonel Blaine House and the Veteran’s Square Memorial. They were interesting, and all, but something much less grand spoke to me. I was walking to class the other day and just happened to look down at a tiny sign hidden next to the steps of Old West. The sign read “Civil War Memorial.” I was intrigued to look into more, but the history wasn’t quite as interesting as the thoughts that brewed in my head.

It’s was a little wild having looked at huge statues and placards commemorating the fallen to see a sign instead only about six inches wide carrying a similar level of surface information. All over the U.S. statues are being argued and fought over, being pulled down and serving as catalysts to riots, yet this little sign, a sheet of medal remembering the same time period, could be quickly forgotten with about a week’s worth of growth the bush that hangs over it.

Memorials seem to be two things, the first and most obvious being a site of respect for the memory of people of historical value, the second didn’t really dawn on me until I saw that tiny sign. Memorials are erected to serve the viewer, they are physical reminders of history, points of pride and symbols of ideas. The last thing, symbols of views that have been causing problems and I hope that someday soon this society will be able to move back to the most critical purpose of memorials, a remembrance of life. The lives being remembered may be wrong or valuable, but they are still people, and that is worth being memorialized.

Learning to Read
Posted by: , September 20, 2018, 8:34 pm
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Do you remember taking a language in high school or college? Specifically, that first class where you walk in and the professor says something words you’ve never heard and all you can do is nod. I can’t remember that moment when I learned to speak English, probably because I was too young, but I do remember when letters and words started making actual sense to me.

It was probably a Dr. Seuss book, I can’t remember the specifics but the feeling when something ridiculous like “Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.” (Seuss, .. (Dr.). I Am Not Going to Get up to Day. S.n, 2009.) I definitely didn’t grasp any meaning beyond the absolute basics of the individual words, but there was something sort of amazing in the fact that those shapes “f,” “u” and the upside-down version of “u.”

The complexity of language is something I take for granted a lot now, but I was thinking about it a lot about a week ago, it was right after my third or fourth class in Arabic and my professor had just explained that three letters we had just learned combined to make a word that is pronounced “bab.” Bab just means door, but when those random symbols are squiggles connected to form something with a real meaning it kind of blew my mind. It wasn’t an earth-shattering discovery by any means, it was, however, a moment that made me recall a moment much earlier in my life, the moment it all kind of clicked, when I learned to read.

A Day in the Era of the iPhone
Posted by: , September 4, 2018, 1:24 pm
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My phone has been on my mind a lot lately, more so than is normal for a member of Gen-Z. What usually is just an inconsequential buzz in my pocket has become a little more obvious, a little more critical.

It’s hard to pick which pop-up messages are worth tapping on and which are not. Trump is pissed at Jeff Sessions, nothing new; coach sent an email, I’ll check it later; John McCain died, that’s worth a minute.

I think most participants in this era can agree that our cell phones have extraordinary power over us, they contain all that we know and want to know, the only thing they fail at is recognizing when we want to see their hoards of information. In an attempt to present us with what we find exciting or valuable we are under a constant barrage of information thrown at our mental walls in hopes that something will stick or make us tap the “view” button.

These pocket-sized screens may not seem like significant literary events in and of themselves, but with Americans receiving an average of almost 46 notifications per day they add up. (Tamara P., Patricia R. “How many times are people interrupted by push notifications?”)

Don’t get me wrong, I am a firm believer that our phones are potent tools for so many things but they’re power and command of our literary intake is greater than it is made out to be. One notification is barely a literary event but a day in the era of iPhone definitely is.