Monday, August 11, 2014


Whenever I travel to the eastern United States, I wonder about the indigenous cultures that once flourished in those lands. The history of oppression and Indian removal changed the cultural landscape in the United States, especially in the east. In many places, indigenous peoples exist as a lamentable footnote to European settlement, if they exist at all. In other cases, cultural remnants exist in place names like Illinois or Mississippi, but without the tribal context that once created those names. Most often, indigenous cultures were simply scrubbed from the collective memory of the nation. 

During our visit to Nauvoo, I searched for some evidence or  remnant of culture that was indigenous to that area. Of all the many museums, exhibits, cultural re-enactments, and historical markers, I only found one place that mentioned the original inhabitants of that area. A sign on the south side of town mentioned the Sauk and Fox name of that place: Quashquema. Unfortunately, the sign faces away from the highway, so people are unlikely to discover the indigenous history of Nauvoo. An internet search showed some disagreement regarding the interpretation of Quashquema. One website said the name was a reference to a chief named Quashquema, or Jumping Fish. Another website claimed the name was interpreted as "Peaceful Place."    

In any case, I would love to see a revival of indigenous cultures in the east. 

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