Poem: “Burdens of the Day, Nov. 12, 1936″

“Burdens of the Day, Nov. 12, 1936″

by: Duane Big Eagle

On the day they opened the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge,

Japan put on a dragon’s mask and marched into China.

Archduke Otto of Austria got back the Hapsburg throne

from Mussolini, who also traded Czechoslovakia to Hungary

in return for Ethiopia.

The day they opened the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge

a mongrel dog trotted out of the Louisiana forest

near the clapboard home of a WPA worker’s nameless wife.

She pulled a fair-haired healthy baby from the dog’s teeth

and named him Moses. Some thought he was the new Messiah.

The day they opened the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge

there was a savage attack on Madrid.

From Los Franceses bridge, bayonets glinted in moonlight,

and fascist batteries north of Cuatro Vientos

set another place at dinner

with a professor’s family in the Paseo de San Vicente

–a hole, really; the shell burst under the table,

killing five and wounding two children.

The day they opened the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge

a grave began to sing in Cleveland.

“Ave Maria” came up clearly from the sod

above Helen Pelczar, Franciscan lay nun, ten years dead.

The day they opened the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge

the Peruvian Indian poet, César Vallejo,

received permission to leave exile in Paris

and go to Spain for a two-month visit.

Then the governments changed their minds.

From his deathbed, he left for Spain,

and finally no one could stop him.

The day they opened the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge,

Americans could drive straight through

from one edge of the continent to the other,

and Albert Redwing, a full blood Washashe Indian,

walking down the brick streets of Harmony, Oklahoma,

clearly and suddenly heard a huge door slam.

It was no gun shot,

there was no echo,

and no one was around.

Ravens continued their cawing

from cottonwoods on the side of the hill.

Albert turned and his braids swung against his wool coat.

Four deer grazing in an open field by the fire station


One by one the bluebirds stopped singing

and all the foxes disappeared.

Albert felt the earth being ripped into large square fields.

Henceforth, all wounds would be sutured with barbed wire.

The day they opened the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge

Albert Redwing got home just at dusk.

And soon people began arriving in cars and buggies,

their pale lights floating around the side of the hill.

That night they worked on singing the world back together.

That night the sound of the drum

rolled across the land like a heart beat.

On the day after they opened the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge,

in the early hours of the morning,

Albert Redwing came upstairs

to his sleeping wife and children.

With their dream hands they took his drum

and eased him into bed.

With their dream hearts they summoned his song

and sent it out again to search the red dawn

for those not strong enough to stand,

for those overcome by fear,

for those thrown down by those who can’t see

that they fling themselves down,

for those whose names are hidden,

for those whose poverty costs them a fortune,

for those who can’t see that truth always contradicts itself,

for the earth whose arms of abundance are about to close,

for those who can’t see that they

are the strands that weave the world together.

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Poem: “My Grandfather Was a Quantum Physicist”

My Grandfather Was a Quantum Physicist

by: Duane Big Eagle (rather tellingly, he doesn’t seem to have his own wikipedia entry)

I can see him now
in full dance costume
in front of the roundhouse
on a sunny afternoon.

Scientists have finally discovered
that the intimate details
of our lives
are influenced by things
beyond the stars
and beyond time.

My grandfather knew this.

Rediscovered this poem while unpacking. Apparently, I wrote a report about Duane Big Eagle for Grade 8 English with Mrs. Majeske. (It is free verse, with alliteration, imagery, mood, profundity, theme, symbolism, sincerity, point of view, and tone. Yeah, vocabulary words!)


Most of my culture comes from the Chicago Public School system, and the yogurt they served in CPS cafeterias.

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Swipes File #14.1: Immigration (again)

The topic is immigration. The mash-up is thus:



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Swipes File #32: Sewing

20093-political-cartoon-andrew SUTURE Jess Jackson quilt John Miller Baer 1917-01-04 see also suture and conrad quilt

John Miller Baer – 4 January 1917

Mauldin - Suture - 15 May 1963b

Mauldin – “Suture” – 15 May 1963

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“I just have to ask…”

Three of the best / my favo(u)rite questions that I have been asked about Canada (since, ya know, I have a BA, MA, and am ABD in the doctoral program in Canadian Studies) are as follows:

(1) Do they have Halloween in Canada?”

Answer: Yes, in the (US)American sense, they do have Halloween in Canada. Many Canadians do dress up and go trick or treating on Halloween. There are great sales on candy and chocolate bars on November 1, too, if that’s your thing.

(2) “Do they have gas stations in Canada?”

Answer: Yes, there are gas stations in Canada. The main difference between gas stations in the US and Canada is that the prices are in gallons (US) and thimbles (CAN) or some metric thing.

(3) If you die in Canada, do you die in real life?”




Asking questions is a useful way to learn things that you didn’t know before, and I strongly endorse the behavio(u)r. These questions are simply illuminating to me (and, likely, other Can-Stud-iers) when considering the amount of US-Canada myth debunking work yet to be done!

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Old Timey Easter Bonnets

Columbia's Easter Bonnet

“Columbia’s Easter bonnet” by Samuel D. Ehrhart, Puck, 6 April 1901.

The Easter Hat

“The Easter hat” by Udo J. Keppler, Puck, 8 April 1903.

9 April 1911, Berryman

9 April 1911, Berryman

John Miller Baer, 20 January 1919

John Miller Baer, 20 January 1919

John Miller Baer, 1917

John Miller Baer, 1917

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Swipes File #31: The White Man’s Burden


“A White Man’s Burden” – Portsmouth Daily Times
5 December 1911

LOT 7862 white man's burden

“The White Man’s Burden” - Boston Evening Record
8 February 1898

The White Man's Burden - Gillam - 1899

“The White Man’s Burden” – Gillam – 1900

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Ukraine vs. USA in carto-caricatures

A member of the Washington Map Society recently shared this cartoon map (carto-caricature!) from The Independent (UK), including this commentary:

Francis Herbert [wrote]: “In The Independent (London) of today (Tuesday) 18 March 2014, is a politically [un-]correct [?] cartographic cartoon by a regular contributing artist, Dave Brown. For those familiar with the term, it is of ‘The Russian Bear’ type, showing a ferociously hungry bear’s open salivating jaw about to snap up a red (bloody?)-coloured Crimean peninsula. The map extends across the states of the northern Black Sea (including an insular Moldova) area.”

Here is the cartoon, with three others that popped up in my search:


From The Independent.


The Russian bear is a long standing, popular trope, as this cartoon from The Red Phoenix demonstrates. (These are just two of many cartoons to use the Russian bear.)


An unattractive troll-goalie-Putin, again from The Independent.


An abstract representation on the consumption of territory, again from The Independent.

On Facebook, EZH posted an interesting article from CBC News, “The Ukraine crisis through the whimsy of international law,” which reads, in part (at the beginning part, enticing you to read more, no?):

Listening to U.S. President Barack Obama bang on this week about the importance of world opinion and obeying international law and respecting sovereignty and being on the right side of history, you had to wonder whether he didn’t have a little voice in his head whispering: “Really? Seriously? I’m actually saying this stuff?”

This is the commander-in-chief of a military that operates a prison camp on Cuban soil, against the explicit wishes of the Cuban government, and which regularly fires drone missiles into other countries, often killing innocent bystanders.

He is a president who ordered that CIA torturers would go unprosecuted, and leads a nation that has invaded other countries whenever it wished, regardless of what the rest of the world might think.

This immediately brought to mind some on-topic carto-carictures (the first from 2014, the second from 2009):


This image by Ted Rall is relevant to my research area because of its depiction of territory and territorial appropriation. The entire map could be white and say “Stolen from Indigenous Peoples,” and the caricature of US President Barack Obama calls for a critique of racism (links to the most extensive piece that I found on the topic over at the Daily Kos). There are layers of deconstruction possible for each part of the image, and I’m sharing it here primarily because of the territorial representation, but despite this focus, I don’t want to ignore the radicalized (EDIT: should read “racialized,” but auto-correct has its own spelling ideas!) representation of Obama.

D09510_3600 copyThe caricatured person here in this cartoon is Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu, current Prime Minister of Israel. Again, I am setting aside discussions of racialized depictions of Netanyahu to focus on the depiction of land and territory, but this conversation is happening.

And just so we’re not letting Canada off the hook, here’s Everett Soop’s commentary:

SOOP m-9028-63a_141He is referring to the genocide of the Beothuk people:

Screen Shot 2014-03-30 at 1.52.15 PM

Here, I’ll recommend additional reading on the role of maps in Indigenous land claims in Canada.

Lots to consider regarding the daily implications of geo-politics, representation, and sovereignty.

UPDATE: Here are two more carto-caricatures of Ukraine from Graeme Mackay.

Editorial cartoon by Graeme MacKay, Hamilton Spectator, 4 March 2014

Graeme MacKay, Hamilton Spectator, 4 March 2014

Tuesday March 25, 2014

Graeme MacKay, Hamilton Spectator, 25 March 2014

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Swipes File #30: Cycles of Empire

Coasting Political Cartoon by Victor Gillam

 F. Victor Gillam (c1858-1920)


RaceyMontreal Witness – circa 1898

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North American merger much?

Last month, the Canada Institute hosted a discussion of Diane Francis’s recent book Merger of the Century: Why Canada and America Should Become One Country. (Link goes to the webcast of the 2-hour event.)


The cover page reminded me of something, so I poked around in the McCord Museum archives until I found it:


“Canada-American Relations” by Aislin (Terry Mosher), Montreal Gazette, 1987

And of course, there’s:

Fight for Canada David OrchardCanamerican Union Now! D K DonnellyAmerica_But_Better







The more things change… you know the rest!

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