New uses for old artifacts

From: Grant Callaghan (
Date: Tue 03 Dec 2002 - 15:39:03 GMT

  • Next message: Grant Callaghan: "Re: Japanese Univ. to set up world meme bank"

    The Chickasaw Nation is the tribe my great grandmother worked for back in the 1880s. She was housekeeper for the governor's brother, who was the treasurer for the nation during his brother's tenure. The Chickasaws were one of five civilized tribes and were slave holders who joined the Confederacy during the Civil War. Funny thing, war!


    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- When NASA's first American Indian astronaut embarks on his long-awaited journey into space in a few days, he'll fly with eagle feathers, arrowheads, a handful of sacred ground and the blessings of the Chickasaw Nation.

    "I've always imagined what it would be like to be able to go out the hatch and to see the Earth in all its glory," said John Herrington. "I think it's going to fill me with an incredible sense of who I am."

    His flight aboard space shuttle Endeavour is slated for liftoff early Monday.

    Herrington will conduct a series of spacewalks outside the international space station with Spanish-born astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria. Not long after Columbus Day, the two crewmates -- both 44-year-old U.S. Navy pilots
    -- discussed the historic significance of their pairing.

    "It would be like having a German and a Jew go out together" on a spacewalk, Lopez-Alegria said.

    Bill Anoatubby, governor of the Chickasaw Nation in Ada, Okla., said it's wonderful to see two men, whose ancestors may have been enemies, on the same spaceflight.

    "It has come full circle," he said.

    Anoatubby traveled to Cape Canaveral for Herrington's launch, along with 200 other members of the 35,000-strong Chickasaw Nation. An Indian ceremony is planned on the eve of his flight.

    "It's a source of real pride for all of us," Anoatubby said.

    Herrington's great-grandmother on his mother's side was Chickasaw, making the astronaut one-eighth Indian. Although he didn't grow up in an Indian environment, his mother registered him as a member of the Chickasaw tribe. Herrington said there's Choctaw on his father's side, but he can't document it.

    "I take tremendous pride in who I am, where I came from," Herrington said.
    "I know that the people I meet who are Native American, there's a connection to me. There's an immediate recognition or belonging."

    By the time he got to college, Herrington wanted to be a forest ranger but flunked out. He and his family were always moving -- 14 times by his count in Oklahoma, Colorado, Wyoming and Texas -- and he lacked ambition.

    A fellow rock climber persuaded Herrington to return to school and he took up math and engineering at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. That led to the Navy, test pilot school and, in 1996, NASA's astronaut corps.

    Herrington, who's married to a non-Indian and has two daughters, is considered the first self-identified American Indian bound for space. Robert Crippen, the pilot of the first shuttle flight, had long thought he was part Cherokee but recently discovered he has no Indian blood.

    Six eagle feathers are tucked away for Herrington's 11-day shuttle flight. Chickasaw Nation and Crow Nation flags also will accompany him into orbit, along with a braid of sweetgrass, two arrowheads found by relatives, a rock from the sacred site of Bear Butte in South Dakota's Black Hills, wooden flutes and flute music, and a piece of Hopi pottery.

    Herrington wanted to fly some tobacco leaves as well -- tobacco holds spiritual significance to many Indian tribes -- but NASA vetoed it because of a space agency ban on tobacco aboard its spacecraft.


    >Greetings, Wade,
    >I haven't followed the latest round of 'what's a meme?' discussion due to
    >time constraints (and my own operational satisfaction with my own
    >definition), but do assume that by 'performance' you would include the
    >speaking of a meme, or the writing of it.
    >If this is so, how in your memetic scheme would you handle the 'idea' that
    >someone thinks of or speaks to himself internally, that is, that has no
    >externally discernable performance?
    >One way to find dead memes (and by dead I mean: no longer self-propagating)
    >is to read texts that were composed at a time the meme was still current --
    >a museum-in-books, if you will.
    >Interesting observation about the Inuit artifacts. I wonder what, beyond
    >sadness, the reactions of all assembled were? Was there pride in the
    >preservation of the artifacts? Was there a suspicion that had the artifacts
    >not been taken, that they might have attained an honored position within
    >Inuit society, complete with memory of what the artifacts had signified?
    >Was it thought that the Inuit visitors were free to ascribe (new) meaning
    >the artifacts?
    > > -----Original Message-----
    > > From: []On Behalf
    > > Of Wade Smith
    > > Sent: Tuesday, December 03, 2002 9:03 AM
    > > To:
    > > Subject: Re: Japanese Univ. to set up world meme bank
    > >
    > >
    > >
    > > On Tuesday, December 3, 2002, at 08:53 , Lawrence DeBivort wrote:
    > >
    > > > It might be more interesting (and more feasible) for the university to
    > > > catalog those ideas that have become obsolete or have died.
    > >
    > > Seems like a paradox, finding an idea that is no longer there. Of
    > > course, you could go look for one where the light is better....
    > >
    > > But then, as the Zim has said, 'inside the museums, infinity goes up on
    > > trial'.
    > >
    > > I again am reminded of those artifacts of the Tlingit that were recently
    > > brought out of the vaults of the Peabody here at Harvard, and shown to a
    > > group of visiting elders, who, alas, had no idea what some of the items
    > > were, although they made some guesses, but could only shrug, saddened
    > > with the loss.
    > >
    > > Museums are, in fact, already storehouses of ideas that are dead, or
    > > just as dead, obsolete. We can only catalog these finds by place and
    > > time, not by meaning.
    > >
    > > IMHO, it is impossible to find a dead idea.
    > >
    > > Kind of like those memesinthemind I hear tell about. I don't know about
    > > them until someone performs something, and I never know what was in that
    > > mind, or even what is in mine, because when I perform my version of it
    > > (deduced in some way from the observed performance), unless repetition
    > > and skill have allowed me to repeat performances with a high degree of
    > > accuracy, I don't know what is going to happen, and, indeed, no
    > > performer, regardless of skill or expertise, can predict the precise
    > > then and there performance.
    > >
    > > And it is the precise then and there performance that gets observed.
    > >
    > > - Wade
    > >
    > >
    > > ===============================================================
    > > This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    > > Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
    > > For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)
    > > see:
    > >
    >This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    >Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
    >For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)

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