Sunday, May 11, 2014

Time to Wonder

Lone Wolf the Younger, last chief of the Kiowa

Tomorrow I'll finish up work on Zach's upstairs bathroom, and I must say I've enjoyed aiding the contractor in bringing both baths to a fine-looking, and fully functional, state.

Both walking around outdoors and working on inside or outside projects provide lots of time to let your thoughts wander around; a really productive mental time, unlike watching television (especially news).  Not so good is doing this while driving, which can shorten, or complicate, your life quickly.  I think you can solve problems at some deeper subconscious level at the same time as your hands and forebrain are busy with the tasks and ruminations, so along with the exercise, it's a sort of triple play.

Well, you can work on your own questions, be they little or larger in scope.  Ideas about fixing state- or nation-wide ones might be developed but, sigh, you know that will go nowhere.  Bringing them up in a casual conversation will usually kill the room's mood, so we'll keep them to our self.  And you, unfortunate reader.

  -- Schools' dilemmas (and dumb local crime) fill up most of the newspaper, and despite most people agreeing on some solutions, year after year nothing is done.  This year the legislature is wasting time on a Republican's bill to place the "In God We Trust" motto in each school building.  This is so important that other members are suggesting amendments and coordinating between committee, the House and the Senate.  Beyond silly, we know, but keeping the "base" stirred up is what they think they're there for.  We have 67 counties, but 501 school districts in Pennsylvania.  It doesn't take a genius to figure out that is expensively redundant.  The school districts straddle all sorts of township and county borders, so a new resident would need quite a while to figure things out; the gerrymandered congressional districts are a nightmare no one can figure out except the dedicated hard-core GOP party members who never miss a primary election and thus keep sending the inept personnel who fill said legislature.

  -- The police departments here are based in towns, cities, boroughs and whatever instead of being county-wide.  Imagine how much more efficient a county-based single administration would be, not only in terms of equipment and administrative expertise, but resources for crime solving.  But noooo....

 -- My jaw dropped when I saw the 21st century urban transit -- a slim modern train, not a lurching bus -- in an episode of "House Hunters" set in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.  We send thousands of multimillion-dollar helicopters and vehicles to Afghanistan, but can't have clean, fast, convenient public transportation.

  --  The folks in the Ukraine would recognize the fracas that Clive Bundy has stirred up for about 25 years in Nevada:  armed nuts getting away with violating the law and defying civil order itself.  He's been fined since 1993 for grazing cattle on protected Federal land, refusing to pay both those and any grazing fees.  If you tried to occupy a landlord's property for free, he and Fox News would call you a moocher.  Even a neighbor rancher ("he's just a lawbreaker") and the Nevada Cattlemen's Association don't support Clive's insane cowboy clown posse! 

And that made me think of how all that land became Federal property. 

Palo Duro canyon, end of the road for the Comanche

After their defeat at Palo Duro Canyon, Texas, in 1874, the Kiowas and Comanches were forced onto two Oklahoma reservations.  Fed up with losing their land (an empire consisting of most of Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and eastern Colorado), their children being dragged into government schools, and themselves being forced into becoming farmers and Christians, respected chief Lone Wolf took it to the Supreme Court (where justice, then as now, goes to die), but lost the case in 1903.  By 1906, their last refuge, 480,000 acres on the reservation, was opened up to white settlement.  The decision against Lone Wolf et al was based on a change of definition of the tribes' status as sovereign nations to wards of the state, which meant Congress could abrogate any treaty if that was in the national interest.  Thus, a formal legal justification to take any and all of the natives' land and resources, especially if there were railroad rights-of-way to be established or any gold to be found (as the Cherokees and Sioux had found out earlier).

The history of the vast western U.S. looks like nothing better than seagulls on the beach:  one just stealing from the other.  I'm going to think about something else, like whether to use the shorter or the taller baseboard...



1 comment:

  1. Chief, if you just move over there, we just want to borrow you land to build our houses and churches on. No just a little further that way.