‘A+ People Posts’ Category


Sentinels in Bronze

Linda Burton posting from Cheyenne, Wyoming – Esther Hobart Morris and Shoshone Chief Washakie have several things in common. Bronze statues of the two flank the entry to the Wyoming State Capitol, that’s the first thing; and replicas of those statues represent the state in National Statuary Hall in Washington, DC. The stories told about them have elevated them to the status of legends; larger-than-life icons that changed the world in a flash. But these two were simply orphans who were dealt some hard knocks, and who faced them in the best way they could. I find no record that their paths ever crossed, but they shared the same space in time, living through most of the turbulent 1800’s, and they shared minority status as the law and the social climate related to them. A woman, and an American Indian; exactly what did these two people face, and how did they respond? » read more


Whimsy Does It

Linda Burton posting from Bismarck, North Dakota –A picture of a cat photographing a cat brought Nancy Hendrickson to my attention; the cats were wearing cute little hand-stitched clothes; the camera was vintage. Though published under the name P C Bill, the award-winning commercial photographer with the whimsical eye was Nancy Christenson Hendrickson (1886-1978, born and lived near Mandan, North Dakota). Not formally educated but interested in just about everything, during her lifetime she was a rancher, farmer, gardener, seamstress and amateur meteorologist. The seventh child of pioneering Swedish homesteaders, she claimed a homestead of her own at an early age and built her own house. Widowed twice with no children of her own, she was a caretaker of family and counselor to neighbors; she collected coins and even had samples of sand from all 50 states! The photography career? Well, that began in 1902, when she bought a Kodak box camera for 35 cents. » read more


Talent Is

Linda Burton posting from Helena, Montana – “To have talent is no credit to its owner,” Charlie Russell said in 1925. “What man can’t help he should get neither credit nor blame for.” Charles Marion Russell (1864-1926) moved to Montana when he was sixteen, seeking the life of a cowboy. It wasn’t his talent, however; he was fired from his sheep-ranching job in just a few months. He followed Jake Hoover for a while, hunting and trapping; then hired on as a wrangler at a cattle ranch near Missoula. He was finally living the cowboy life, going on cattle drives; he continued this for seven years. He also spent a year with the Blackfoot Indians, learning their ceremonies, hunting methods, and tribal legends. He sketched and drew these things he experienced during a time of Montana’s vanishing frontier – the 1880’s and 1890’s. And Charlie Russell found his talent. He created more than 4,000 paintings, drawings, and sculptures in his lifetime, becoming one of the world’s best-known and most authentic western artists. Today his statue represents Montana in Statuary Hall in Washington, DC. As I read the story of this remarkable man, I see two significant marking points – in 1886 and in 1896 – when the talent he was so modest about began to be recognized. » read more


Basking on Basque Block

Linda Burton posting from Boise, Idaho – Oh come on, my pun’s okay; even the Basque Museum posts a window sign that says “Who Is That Basque Man?” Not knowledgeable about Basques in Idaho, I realized I had a lot to learn. I can tell you this – Basque culture is very much alive in Boise; the ethnic community numbers about 15,000 and is the largest such community in the United States (fifth largest in the world, behind Mexico, Argentina, Chile, and of course the Basque Country of Spain and France). But seriously, who is that Basque man? One is the Mayor of Boise, David Bieter, elected in 2003, and in 2007, and in 2011; fluent in Basque and Spanish, he is extensively involved in Boise’s Basque community and in 2005 was awarded the “Basques Throughout The World” award for his work on behalf of Basque peace and self-determination. I wandered the area known as Basque Block, a vibrant downtown section between 6th and Capitol Boulevard on Grove Street, to find out more. » read more


Let’em Be Cowboys

Linda Burton posting from Carson City, Nevada –Mama, it’s okay if they grow up to be cowboys, I say; it’s a very poetic way of life. That was in evidence at the 3rd Annual Genoa Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival this weekend. “I eat my peas with honey. I’ve done it all my life. I know that might sound funny, but it keeps them on my knife.” Ken Gardner went for the ticklebone recitations, all deadpan of course, with a poem about his diapered pet chicken, and quips such as “We thought we had a problem when our town streaker told us he was quitting, but we persuaded him to stick it out for another year.” Tony Argento, pictured above, does humor too, but includes patriotic and serious performances in his repertoire, such as the Gettysburg Address. I heard him do The Silver Bells and The Golden Spurs, a tale of dueling gunslingers, with appropriate sound effects. There was quite a lineup in the big white tent labeled Mormon Station Main Stage.  » read more


Home, and Where the Heart Is

Linda Burton posting from Phoenix, Arizona — “Home is your own private piece of heaven.” These words, softly spoken, are one of many reflections in a video entitled “Home: Native People in the Southwest, Part One” which you can see at the Heard Museum, or online at this link: http://www.heard.org/videos/index.html

Arizona is home to 22 tribal nations, and the Heard Museum has worked with 20 of them to produce short video-tours as an aid to connecting communities, and showcasing their distinct languages and traditions. In this 30 minute video by Dustinn Craig, they tell intimate stories of their connection to the land, and the meaning of home to them.

“Home is a really hard concept for me,“ says one. “I can see it, I can taste it. But I need to create it – that’s home for me.”

“Creating home” is the focus of another whose life was expressed in a love of the land. Frank Lloyd Wright began building Taliesin West in 1937 as a personal winter home, studio, and architectural campus. This desert masterpiece sits in the foothills of the McDowell Mountains in northeast Scottsdale, and a variety of guided tours allow you to experience first-hand his brilliant ability to integrate indoor and outdoor spaces. http://www.franklloydwright.org/web/Tours.html

Wright preached the beauty of native materials and created buildings to grow naturally from their surroundings. “Whether people are fully conscious of this or not, they actually derive countenance and sustenance from the ‘atmosphere’ of the things they live in, or with,” he said.

As I travel the country over these next two years, listening to the voices and observing how people love and revere this land that is the United States, I will carry with me this thought, expressed in Craig’s video by a Native soul, which has profound meaning for me:

“I’m an elder now. I have dreams that I have to complete. That’s my home.”