Erica over at beenthinking tugged on the coattails of my childhood memories with this quote from the Roughrider president:
“Nowhere, not even at sea, does a man feel more lonely than when riding over the far-reaching, seemingly never-ending plains; and after a man has lived a little while on or near them, their very vastness and loneliness and their melancholy monotony have a strong fascination for him.”
- Teddy Roosevelt
~reblogged by Trent Gilliss, senior editor
Tuesday Evening Melody: “North Dakota” by Chris Knight
by Trent Gilliss, senior editor
Yeah, I’m a day late — partly due to the Memorial Day holiday but more so for the fact that I’m back in North Dakota taking some sandbagging vacation days. This sorrow song from Chris Knight is my homage to the great prairie state and the Missouri River, which is reclaiming its banks and swallowing up homes and lands it hasn’t said hello to since the Big Muddy was dammed nearly 60 years ago.
The effort may be futile and nature may remind us that flood control is never foolproof. But to try to salvage what remains is noble, whether it mitigates disaster or not. And the way that catastrophe galvanizes a community is one positive I’ll take from these days in the sun with shovel in hand, and lower back in tow.
About the image: The Missouri River waters near Bismarck and Mandan can be seen spreading to areas rarely touched due to the increased releases from the Garrison Dam. (photo: Bill Prokopyk/North Dakota National Guard Public Affairs Office)
Renaming as an Act of Healing
Nancy Rosenbaum, associate producer
In Krista’s interviews with Archbishop Tutu and Cedric Good House, each discuss the devastating impacts of colonialism and oppression on native peoples in different geographies. Both men also speak about the potential for renaming as an act of healing.
Tutu tells a story about D.F. Malan Driveway, an arterial road in Johannesburg that was originally christened after the country’s first National Party prime minister Daniel François Malan, one of the key architects of apartheid. Johannesburg’s mayor changed the road’s name to Beyers Naudé Drive in 2001.
Beyers Naudé was an Afrikaaner cleric in the Dutch Reformed Church who rejected any scriptural basis for apartheid and became an anti-apartheid activist. Today, you can find other landmarks in South Africa, including a high school, that are named after him.
Tutu says that this act of renaming is one manifestation of a “God of surprises” whose “sense of humor is quite something.” Hearing Tutu tell this story, I was reminded of Cedric Good House and what he said about the significance of place names in "Reimagining Sitting Bull: Tatanka Iyotake":
"Today, there’s a lot of things that we’re going through. You know, people are talking language, they’re talking a lot of things. … if you come to Standing Rock, even here in Bismarck, you find things that are just predominantly from that time. You see here in town Grant Marsh Bridge. We pass by Fort Lincoln. We pass by Custer’s house. On Standing Rock there’s a town called McLaughlin. It’s just infested with that type of mindset."
In the audio above, Good House also points out that things are starting to change as some towns have renamed themselves to commemorate their Lakota heritage: “There was a lot of things we needed to heal from and continue to and it’s happening.”
I wonder about the possibilities and limits of these acts of renaming. Andrew Boraine, chief executive of the Cape Town Partnership writes on his blog that “a renaming process can be superficial and shallow if it is not part of broader efforts to genuinely build social cohesion and address the physical and materials needs of citizens.” He continues:
"Like patriotism, the practice of renaming can become a refuge of scoundrels, enabling leaders to deflect from delivering on substantive issues. However, I don’t buy the argument that the process of renaming certain streets and places is irrelevant or that there are "more important issues."
Lead image: traffic signs in Durban, South Africa display the former and new names of streets in central eThekwini (photo: Andrew Boraine).