icon caret-left icon caret-right instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads question-circle facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle

Good To Know

Unraveling The Myth

I changed my domain after a long and thoughtful process. First question you might ask is why. Although maybe you'll just say, about time! Seriously, what the heck is Grimm2etc anyway? Well, once it was GrimmsEtc, but I lost control of that one, thanks to GoDaddy and me being unable to figure out how to migrate it over to a new web builder.


GrimmsEtc is the name of my business, an all-encompassing business that includes my writing, research, editing and transcription work, anything that I get paid for. But do you know what it is to you? Meaningless. I've known this for a while, sorry to say. But with my interests running amok, I couldn't figure what else might encompass all of it.


I have to do a shout-out here to Carrielynn Reinhard, who is having my transcribe her series of lectures on social media and creating products of entertainment, commercials and information and how we present ourselves to YOU that makes all the difference. Sometimes we just need that kick in the butt, and my own daughter gave me one.


So I began to bandy a lot of different domain names about and they had to be available. One person liked HistoryPerspectives, but for me, when I thought about it, everyone who's a historian has one of those. And I'm not just working on history; there's a lot of prehistory there, too.  Another liked TruthInHistory, and that does speak to the heart of my master's in history; with that I could see someone challenging every single darned thing I said, or wrote about, calling it my perspective, rather than truth. Another liked History+Attitude.com, which was going to be it.


Truth in history, with attitude, is definitely how I create my works. I try to find what happened, and I try to relate why it happened. Not always easy, I know. I can't get into everyone's shoes. But we know that even though history is written, while oral mythology was word of mouth for a very long time, there's an element of 'unreal' in written history, too. Because every event was written in its time from a particular viewpoint. So we need several viewpoints of an event to get at what really happened. We can only understand the relating of an event by understanding the attitude that went with it.


Take the Little BigHorn event. So many historians shun the Indian viewpoint, because they vary wildly by participant -- more of them being survivors. But that's what's so real about viewpoints. Everyone does have a different perspective. When I unraveled the Little BigHorn, I took the approach no other historian did, I used that similar idea of perspective to include President Grant's activities up to the Little BigHorn, and during, to demonstrate his involvement and so much more of what happened can now be understood. I unraveled what was commonly held to be true, and answered more questions than anyone else could that way.


All written history has an element of myth to it, which is why high school professors choose only to share the good stuff. Or do they choose? Is that a command that comes from higher up? When you think about your experiences in high school history, you were taught it a certain way so that our country looks good. Right? That's the myth. So unraveling the myth means that there are true things in there, but they don't want you to know what's true when it puts our country in a bad light. We have that recent revolt against teaching Critical Race Theory to demonstrate that.


I had that bad experience in high school. Good old Mr. Russo. An Italian stud. All us girls had a crush on him. But it was my worst subject, because memorizing names, places, dates, was all just so boring. I'll bet Russo would have hated my late '90s campaign to break the myth of Columbus. I had one college professor who hated it, too.


In college we learn that our heroes of high school were flawed human beings, just like the rest of us. If you had been Lincoln, would you have given your life to keep the US from falling apart because you were elected? Probably. And yet there are those people who are afraid to acknowledge the flaws in our country, like in those heroes, because it would make us seem like less of a caring people. You can find lots of examples of how we are a caring people. Knowing the flaws in our history shouldn't change that. Why would it?


Knowing our history is the ONLY way to keep history from repeating itself. And so that's why I dedicated my history master's to finding the truth and unraveling the myth.


Unraveling the myth. I love mythology. I've always felt that there's at least a nugget or two of reality in any myth. You read about those oral myths handed down through the centuries, the millennium. You think, oh, they're about people who used to be animals, they're just parables. But then you find out, hey, we did evolve from animals. Maybe not from bunnies. But if you can look inside that myth, you'll find the realities.


I have a family myth about chicken booyah, and I was seeking its truth while I still lived in Green Bay. I got the library historian really mad at me when I said I wanted to see if someone had an oral story that put the discovery of booyah before my great-grandfather's. Apparently she was fed up (no pun intended) with people claiming their family invented that local favorite dish. But I've done a lot of research on booyahs and no one's is older than the Hannon version. There is an old version that's more popular, that includes tomatoes and noodles. But that's German, not Hannon's, which is Walloon Belgian.


I'd love to hear your myths. What stories do you think are told wrong? Why myths have you unraveled?


This domain also works for my copper research, because it involves pre-contact cultures and there are several myths there that needed to be exploded. One is that these early natives could not have learned to tool in copper without help from Europeans. Another is that they stopped tooling in copper, and then started again centuries later. I'm also trying to demonstrate that no matter how much background a person has in archaeology, when it comes to the attitudes of the past, we will always be guessing. If the natives today have the key, they're not sharing. And why should they?  Maybe someday.


And even my fiction work contains a number of ways I look at real history. Arabus Drake is a product of myth, but in this case, I take myth a step further -- you might say I make it a blend of myth, and myth. My archaeology fiction also explores the myth of how the bow and arrow changed the pre-contact cultures. And I use Greek mythology in "The Last Virgin," with a new take on the age-old feud between men and women for control of the world.


Mythology presents a fascinating, four-dimensional world for those who take the time to delve in. You don't just see the humanity, but you also get a look beyond it into the supernatural.


Unraveling the Myth. Come for the adventure. Stay for the stories.

Be the first to comment

A "Copper Conundrum" Solved

Response to David Malakoff article in American Archaeology, Spring 2021, that the magazine editor refused to print to correct the fallacies contained there.


The pre-contact copper industry is the Americas' oldest metal industry. Unlike what many scholars believe, it did not disappear, but it's true that it did change and evolve, in part as a response to the growing trade network.


I'm from Wisconsin and well aware of Bill Reardon's two radiocarbon dated points dating to 6500 BCE. The oldest copper industry may well date back to the Late Paleo period, if the late Dr. Jack Steinbring's research on the I-K point is validated. There was also a very early awl dated in Illinois to around 7,000 BCE. Float copper was their first source of copper, and it would make more sense for the Illinois people to have started working copper found on the ground, left behind by the glaciers, before anyone farther north.


Float copper was used first, before mining, left laying on the ground for anyone to pick up. Malakoff failed to mention this.


"When humans learn to do something, they usually keep doing it." This comment is not logical. Humans experiment, they adapt, they are continually striving to make something better.


In the article was a discuss of whether copper made a better tool than stone, to see if maybe that's why it was abandoned. But what they fail to recognize is that copper can be re-made into something else. If a point breaks, you can repair it, unlike with stone. Copper is a recyclable and malleable material, unlike stone.


Personally, I think the technology for creating copper tools delighted them and they continued to experiment throughout the centuries. This would be the reason that some designs are found in more numbers than others. If you were to look at the Wittry typology (I keep it updated at my website) you would see the variety of copper tools and ornaments is amazing. They did not stagnate in this industry, nor are the artifacts produced of inferior designs that were tossed.


Instead, copper tools were often handed down through the centuries. We find some with hash marks, indicating ownership, or, as some think, how many generations of ownership it had. One is even shown with has marks, without note, in the article.


So copper tooling did not disappear. I had this argument with a state archaeologist here in Wisconsin who also said tooling stopped between the Hopewell and the Mississippian periods. But the CAMD demonstrated that this is simply not true. The points created changed, such as those found in numbers at the Riverside site in Michigan. Then points got small when the bow and arrow came into the region as early as 500 CE.


It is nice to see the article attempt to validate the age of the Oconto copper burial artifacts. I was curator at that museum for three years, and continually suggested that the oldest could be valid as well as the dates of not so old pieces, because the site could have had longevity, being used over thousands of years.


More efficient forms did replace less efficient ones. I see no reason to believe otherwise. The conical point was used for a very long time, for hunting and fishing. The common celt form was used in a number of different ways, depending on size. The true celt form went south while the crescent form stayed more northerly, and eventually, the celt form took on some crescent features down in Mexico. These people evolved their copper use as needed, and continued to use forms where they worked for them.


I do agree that by the Late Archaic, with mining well underway, certain groups likely gained control of the mines as part of a trade network. The Hopewells were big miners, if we believe some of that data that was uncovered around Lake Superior. They created, as noted in the article, many wonderfully intricate copper pieces. Beads became valuable in the Late Archaic, and remained that way. Ear spools that were full copper for the Hopewell became copper-covered in the Mississippian, indicating the growing scarcity of copper.


Once float copper was used up, mining was the only way to get copper, and if you don't have control of the mines around Lake Superior, you needed another source; they found one in the Appalachians, which wasn't quite as pure. They might have had a harder time working it. But mining around Lake Superior didn't stop until they got out all the workable pieces with the technology they had.


I am working on a series of copper resource manuals to make the CAMD available to the public. I was glad to see this article because I feel the copper industry in the Americas has long been neglected, which was why I started the CAMD after leaving the Oconto Copper Burial Museum.


But fallacies are still being spread about the pre-contact copper industry.

Be the first to comment