KWIT

James C. Schaap

Contributor

Dr. Jim Schaap doesn’t know what on earth happens to his time these days, even though he should have plenty of it, retired as he is (from teaching literature and writing at Dordt College, Sioux Center, IA). If he’s not at a keyboard, most mornings he’s out on Siouxland’s country roads, running down stories that make him smile or leave him in awe. He is the author of several novels and a host of short stories and essays. His most recent publications include Up the Hill: Folk Tales from the Grave (stories), and Reading Mother Teresa (meditations). He lives with his wife Barbara in Alton, Iowa. 

Ways to Connect

What happened in the lumber town of Hinckley, Minnesota, on September 1, 1894, was beyond horror.  Four hundred white men, women, and children died, as well as countless Ojibwa in the pine forests all around.  It's probably impossible to know how many human beings died in total, since more than a few transient logging camp workers from as far away as Nebraska were simply never accounted for. 

Custer's Gold Rush

Sep 12, 2017
Humboldt State University

There was no good reason for General George Armstrong Custer to ride into the Black Hills in 1874, nefarious reasons abound, however, including Washington’s determination to set yet another fort out there to make sure untoward things didn’t happen to that multitude of white folks on their way west.

Wikimedia Commons

Rarely has the first meeting between white folks and Native people been as richly visualized as it is in Terrance Malick's The New World (2005), when, in the middle of a tall-grass field, an Englishman named Capt. John Smith meets the Powhatan princess Pocahontas. Not only did neither know either, neither had ever seen anything quite like each other either. They stand and stare in awe. Both of them. 

History of Iowa From the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Twentieth Century Volume 1

To call it a “rogue’s gallery” just might be understatement.

But first, let’s admit that distinguishing history from myth or legend is not only difficult but impossible, witnesses long gone, histories copywrited years ago.  So exactly how evil these bad guys were is answerable, truthfully, only by saying they were inspiringly bad.

James Schaap

We visited Stratford-upon-Avon, toured Shakespeare's house and watched the Royal Shakespeare Company perform Julius Caesar in the Royal Shakespearean Theater. I vaguely remember the grave of Jane Austin, but Piccadilly Circus is gone completely.

For reasons I can't explain, nothing in jolly old England left as hearty an impression as the bombed-out hulk of Coventry Cathedral. For a moment, the Battle of Britain was more than a grainy newsreel or a whole album of old black-and-whites.

Palace of the Governors Collections, Museum of New Mexico

It’s hard to know where to start because the roots of this incredible story originate all around the world.

That there were Frenchmen here long, long ago will surprise no one. The French arrived not long after the Sioux showed up—fur trappers, hundreds of them, and their dealers, men with largely unpronounceable names like Sioux City’s own founding father, Theophile Brugeiur.

How long ago? Ages. Ben Franklin, the Ben Franklin was 14. George Washington wasn’t even born—and wouldn’t be for a dozen years, Thomas Jefferson for 23. Early, early, early.

Anthem from the Mud

Jul 26, 2017

Let’s get the objectionable stuff out on the table, okay? William Clayton had nine wives. Not nine lives, like the Tom catting around out back, but nine wives. William Clayton was a Mormon, baptized in his native Great Britain, a man of some rank among the saints, a man who worked alongside none other than Joseph Smith the Prophet.

James Schaap

A full rack of ribs, with beans and slaw, will cost you twenty bucks at Buffalo Chip Saloon and Bar, Cave Creek, AZ. Sounds reasonable, even inviting. But seriously, who'd want to eat anything served up at a saloon named by way of ruminant excrement?

Bad Village

Jun 29, 2017
Smithsonian Institute

Her father doesn’t ask her consent, but promises his greatly-admired daughter to the old warrior anyway, despite her silent protest. Many years separate the girl from the man she is bound to marry, and secretly—her parents know nothing of it—she had promised herself already to a young warrior from the village.

All of that is the first act of this somehow familiar drama. What it clearly suggests is an ancient human conflict: love versus community, tradition, and family. This version belongs to Omaha lore.

Jim Schaap

What’s there today is more of a grave than a memorial. Once upon a time—well, for more than 100 years—an obelisk stood mightily atop that chunk of granite, rose twenty feet into the air above the Missouri River.

But the obelisk is gone. A naked steel bolt reminds you that something once stood there. But then, maybe that’s okay. The issues aren’t mine to determine.

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