American

Seth K. Humphrey / Wikimedia Commons

To be sure, there was a good reason for the Poncas to cut the deal they did with the strange emissary who showed up one day from Washington. He’d come to let them know  that “the Great Father” wanted the Poncas to move from their homeland on the Missouri River, to Indian Country, what would become Oklahoma, to a place where, he claimed, they’d be safe from raids by larger and more warlike neighbors.

Strange place to start, but let’s just go for it.

Ninety-five years ago, just about everyone in Sioux City would have recognized Mother Bloor, a 70-year-old wrecking crew who’d stormed into town from North Dakota just to agitate, to stir up a batch of trouble with mad farmers here, and there were more than a few because the whole lot of ‘em could do nothing but watch their operations slip-slide into receivership.

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On the night of April 23, 1865, eight days after President Abraham Lincoln met his end in the Ford Theater, a young man named Silas Soule, a Civil War and Indian Wars veteran and a constable in a frontier town called Denver, Colorado, ran into two cavalrymen, late, who, presumably drunk, were shooting their handguns irresponsibly.  No one knows what was said, but in a matter of minutes, Charles Squier, a ne'er-do-well with a rap sheet and a venomous hatred for Abraham Lincoln, shot Silas Soule in the head.  Soule died almost instantly.

Thomas M. Easterly

Had I gone to school in Iowa, perhaps, I’d have known a headman, a chief, named No Heart; after all, his people left their name behind when they travelled west and south. We're Iowans because of him--and them. They left their name behind, but little more we design to remember.

Nonetheless, you should know that No Heart’s descendants are a proud people who live in Oklahoma and have for years, despite their name. They call home just outside the town where my son's family lives, just across the Cimarron. 

Image by Palmovish from DeviantArt / palmovish.deviantart.com/art/Moby-Dick-200956981 (creative commons licensed 3.0)

Herman Melville is “still vigorous,” said one article published in 1890, one year before the death of the author. It was news. Melville was, like Ishmael, a wandering survivor of a masterful wreck. When the obits followed in 1891, readers again needed reminding. Melville? Alive? No longer. And his books, perhaps, the obit writers said, Typee will be remembered. And one, Melville was “an untrained imagination” with an “inaccurate and unliterary” vocabulary.

George Caleb Bingham / The Yorck Project (2002) 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei (DVD-ROM), distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH. ISBN: 3936122202.

It's morning, mid-summer. A haze lies over everything. The river valley seems veiled, the horizon indiscernible. What shrouds everything isn't fog, but a glowing wet glaze you can feel against your face. Likely as not it's August. George Caleb Bingham's style of painting is called luminist, the landscape ever so tranquil, yellow-y in the generous morning light. 

Gretchen and Opus bid goodbye with this edition of Opus. We will miss hearing her weekly, but she promises to return for special broadcasts and to help during our fund drives. 

Hillary Purrington

Apr 5, 2019
Jiyeon Kim and Sezen Tezic

Gretchen welcomes Hillary Purrington, the Sioux City Symphony Orchestra's 2019 Composer of the Year, and conductor Ryan Haskins to Opus. 

Abraham Lincoln took office as the 16th president of the United States on March 4, 1861.  

The next month, the first shots of the Civil War sounded at Fort Sumter in South Carolina.  

The community of Spencer, Iowa is remembering the veterans of this deadly conflict.  

“This new exhibit it’s called “Boys in Blue, Grand Army of the Republic,” said Stephanie Horsley.  

Walking into a wing of the Clay County Heritage Center transports you to a time of turmoil for the United States starting in April of 1861.

The archive office of the town Spillville in Iowa / Wikimedia Commons

Could have been different. Could have been a whole lot different. Anton Dvorak wasn't just the neighbor's distant cousin house guest. He'd already spent a year as the head of the National Conservatory of Music in New York City, where he taught composition and led the choir and orchestra. The year was 1892, and the conservatory was celebrating four hundred years of European/American history with a true European at its head.

Saving MLK

Jan 25, 2019
Michele Boykin

Marguerite Cordice married Dr. John Cordice in 1948. Ten years later, Dr. Cordice would save the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., an act for which he will be remembered. However, as an african-american surgeon, he broke barriers his entire life. Marguerite remembers their life together.

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Once upon a time, his name was a household word, so great was his fame. He gave us a headless horseman and bearded old man with a rusty shotgun who appeared in town after an absence of umpteen years—tales like “Rip Van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”

Hennessey Public Library

Like just about every other town from sea to shining sea, Hennesey, Oklahoma, will celebrate its own pioneer days this summer--parades and burgers, gospel quartets, and a mud bog full of slippery pigs. There’ll be more horses and cattle than your ordinary burg, because Main Street, Hennessey is the Chisolm Trail. In the 1870s, downtown Hennessey was the world's largest cattle yard.

Today, I’m recommending American Eclipse: A Nation’s Epic Race to Catch the Shadow of the Moon and Win the Glory of the World by former NPR science correspondent and award-winning journalist David Baron. As we prepare ourselves for next week’s first total solar eclipse to cross the U.S. (coast to coast) in 99 years, Baron’s captivating story makes for an enjoyable and informative teaser. 

Remember Sacagawea

Apr 10, 2017

What happened to her when she was a kid wasn't all that unusual among nomadic, war-faring Great Plains tribes. When her people--the Shoshones--started into a bloody fight with another--the Hidatsas--she got herself kidnapped, lost her home, then got another she surely hadn’t asked for, and was eventually--sad but true--sold into slavery. At the time, she was only ten years old. 

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There's very little to see now but row after row after row of foundations, a procession of rectangles angling down a long slope toward where there once stood a front gate. If you get there in June, the whole expanse will be awash in wildflowers, a bright yellow smiley face on a place you can’t help but grimace to remember.