Transformation of the Great Plains

In his study of the Colorado Gold Rush, Elliott West discovered that historians have generally focused their attention on “what was rushed to rather than what was rushed over” (West xvii). His basic argument is that the influx of goldseekers changed the Great Plains as well as the Rockies, and that “the Indians were partly responsible for their own difficulties” (West, xvii). West asserts that the history of the Great Plains changed over time primarily through people’s perceptions of it:

People use their brains to create mental variations of the places they observe, variations that exist only inside their heads. They imagine changes in the world as it presently exists outside themselves; they visualize new connections and relationships that are not there yet. So besides the perceived environment in the first sense – the outer world as humans encounter it through their senses – there can be many alternate environments existing simultaneously as imagined places (West xx).

Consequently, for changes on the Great Plains to occur, people must first imagine the area differently. West describes the many changes that transpired on the Great Plains, and the factors that propelled people to change their perceptions of the Great Plains.

The first occupants of the Plains were “part of the Clovis complex” around 9500 – 10,000 B.C. (West 19). At this time, the Plains were “wetter and cooler” (West 18). But soon after their arrival, the climate changed and became warmer. This caused the tall grasses to give way to shorter, and led to the extinction of many species the Clovis hunters used for food. This extinction (partly caused by the Clovis) led them and the later Folsom peoples to develop a bison-hunting culture.

About 5000 B.C. the climate changed again; the Plains underwent a prolonged drought which caused the land to become more arid, and take on the appearance similar to the present. This caused the hunters to become even more nomadic as they searched for food. The Plains peoples developed a “cycle of movement that united the seasonal offerings of plains, hills, and high mountain terrain” (West 24). At about the time of Christ, the Plains Woodlands people had set up a network of trade “covering most of the United States and well beyond its borders” to obtain commodities they could not obtain locally.

Then around A.D. 700-800, another climactic shift led the Plains into “one of the wettest periods of its history” (West 27). This led to farming communities along the Republican, Solomon, and Smoky Hill Rivers. These farmers eventually moved eastward off the Plains during the thirteenth century as the land suffered a series of droughts. Then new peoples moved onto the Plains to create their own mode of survival. Before European contact, many different peoples had lived and survived on the Plains. They had adapted to the changing climates and exploited the resources close at hand, while establishing trade for what was not close at hand.

Contact with Europeans in the mid-sixteenth century dramatically changed the Native peoples’ perceptions of the Great Plains. The Spaniards envisioned the Plains as lacking “almost everything needed to turn neutral space into a human place” (West 35). Coronado’s reports of the Great Plains resulted in Europeans staying out of the area for two hundred years. However, the Spaniards brought with them two things that would revolutionize life on the Plains: horses and guns. Once the Native Americans understood the capabilities of horses and guns, they “looked at the country and thought it into another shape” (West 55).

For the Plains tribes, the horse turned them into more efficient hunters of the bison, and guns were extremely beneficial for raiding villages. The Indians’ changed perception of the Plains caused a population explosion. The population in the high Plains “rose steeply in the late eighteenth century, then climbed more sharply after 1800” (West 67). Many tribes, such as Comanches, Nakotas, Lakotas, and others, began moving onto the Plains from the east as they imagined the land in different ways.

As the new tribes moved into the Great Plains, “there was a shuffling of power in its crudest form – force used by some people to control, exploit, and kill other people” (West 68). The tribal warfare for control of the area around the Black Hills resulted in the Lakotas displacing tribes such as the Kiowa, Arapahoes, Crows, and Cheyennes. But the migration to the Plains caused the Lakota to come to depend on the horse more heavily. This dependency led to problems since, because of the northern winters, the Lakota often were in short supply of horses. This shortage “helped shape their actions during the years ahead” (West 66).

Up until the mid-nineteenth century, the Great Plains had belonged to the Native Americans almost exclusively. But in 1858, the rumours of gold in the Rockies that had been circulating for decades was confirmed when Green Russell and his followers made “the true discovery of gold in the Pike’s Peak region” (West 105). This discovery, along with other events in America paved the way for a general stampede into the area. Before the settlers could move into this area, their perceptions of it had to change.

Previously they viewed the Plains as a virtual wasteland inhabited by savages ready to kill any white people. Sumner’s victory at the Solomon River in 1856 gave many the impression of “nomads beaten and pacified” (West 100). Therefore, many felt the Indian populations would not be much of a threat to them.

Also the depression of 1857 encouraged people to look at the Great Plains in a different light. It then became a place where they could escape the bad conditions at home and regain economic stability. Newspapers and travel guides immediately set to work to propagandize the Great Plains. One St. Louis editor wrote that the gold fields would be “the evangel to a new commerce” (West 131). In addition to the gold mines, propagandists gave people a view of the Great Plains as a place that would be good for cattle raising and farming. Soon after Russell made his discovery in 1858, the first townsite, Denver City, was laid out. The following spring, “more than 100,000 people headed for Colorado” (West 145).

This invasion of miners caused conflict within numerous Plains tribes when they returned to the South Platte River. As their resources, such as bison, began to diminish, many tribes such as the Cheyennes, Arapahoes, Kiowas, Lakotas, and Comanches were “torn between leaders who called for accommodation with whites and others advocating confrontation, or at least a studied disengagement” (West 194). The tribes’ dependence on the bison and trade with whites thus caused much of their difficulties when miners began filtering into the area, since many trading chiefs favored accommodation. The subsequent warfare, displacement of Indians, and the establishment of reservations further changed the face of the Great Plains. For many thousands of years, the Great Plains underwent a series of changes to reach its present appearance. The common factor in these changes is that before they were implemented, they had to be envisioned.

Bibliography

West, Elliott. The Contested Plains: Indians, Goldseekers, and the Rush to Colorado. University Press of Kansas, 2000.

Nero, Christians, and the Great Fire of Rome

It was the night of July 19, 64 A.D., when the Great Fire burst through the rooftops of shops near the mass entertainment and chariot racing venue called Circus Maximus. The flames, whipped by a strong wind, rapidly engulfed densely populated areas of the city.

After burning uncontrolled for five days, 4 of the 14 Roman districts were burned to the ground, and seven more were severely damaged.

Nero: Fiddling While Rome Burned?

Nero might have been playing a kithara while Rome burned, but he wasn’t playing a fiddle. That’s because violins weren’t invented until around 1550.

Nero, probably the most infamous Roman emperor, was a great-grandson of Caesar Augustus.

When his mother’s husband (also her uncle, and Nero’s adopted father…) was murdered with poisoned mushrooms, Nero succeeded to the throne.

Like many kids in those days, he wanted to be a famous singer and a poet. His talent was poor, but as emperor, the empire doubled as captive audience.

His mother tried to control Nero, to the point of having intercourse with him. He tried to murder her by booking her on a ship that was designed to fall apart at sea. Unfortunately, his mom was a good swimmer. After she survived, he had a soldier kill her. This shocked the public, a little bit, but they got over it.

Neropolis

It was no secret that Nero wanted to build a series of palaces that he planned to name Neropolis.

But, the planned location was in the city. In order to build Neropolis, a third of Rome would have to be torn down. The senate rejected the idea.

Then, coincidentally, the fire cleared the real estate Neropolis required.

Despite the obvious benefit, there’s still a good probability that Nero did NOT start the fire. Up to a hundred small fires regularly broke out in Rome each day. On top of that, the fire destroyed Nero’s own palace. It also appears that Nero did everything he could to stop the fire…

Nero’s Reaction to the Fire

Accounts of the day say that when Nero heard about the fire, he rushed back from Antium to organize a relief effort, using his own money. He opened his palaces to let in the homeless, and had food supplies delivered to the survivors.

Nero also devised a new urban development plan that would make Rome less vulnerable to fire. But, although he put in place rules to insure a safer reconstruction, he also gave himself a huge tract of city property with the intention of building his new palace there.

Fake Terror Gives Poll Numbers a Bump

People knew of Nero’s plans for Neropolis, and all his efforts to help the city could not counteract the rampant rumors that he’d help start the fire.

As his poll numbers dropped, Nero’s administration realized the need to employ False Flag 101: When something–anything–bad happens to you, even if it’s accidental, point the finger at your enemy.

Luckily, there was a strange new cult of religious nuts at hand. This cult was unpopular because they refused to worship the emperor, denounced possessions, held secret meetings, and they were always talking about the destruction of Rome and the end of the world.

Even more lucky for Nero, two of the cult’s biggest leaders–Peter and Paul–were currently in town.

So, Nero spread word that the Christians had started the Great Fire. The citizens of Rome bought his lie hook, line, and sinker. Peter was crucified (upside down, at his own request) and Paul was beheaded. Hundreds of others in the young cult were fed to the lions, or smeared with tar and set on fire to become human street lamps.

Such is the fate of those unwittingly caught in a false flag operation.

History of St. Anthony’s Cathedral in Beaumont, Texas

Amanda Vessel, “The Making of a Landmark: St. Anthony’s Cathedral, Beaumont, Texas,” Touchstone, vol. XIX (2000), 48-58.

This article explores the history and symbolic and cultural significance of St. Anthony’s Cathedral in Beaumont, Texas. Amanda Vessel asserts that this Catholic Church has special meanings for their parishioners. St. Anthony’s physical appearance is very symbolic. The floor plan is shaped like a cross and the statues and other works of art represent many tenets of the Catholic faith.

Before 1897, and the coming of Father William Lee, the Catholic Church in Beaumont, St. Louis, was very small and Spartan. In 1901, the discovery of oil led to an influx of people and oil-related businesses. As a result, St. Louis became too small to accommodate the increasing Catholic population, and Father Lee proposed building a new church. This church was built according to Father Lee’s design, and it was dedicated in January 1907, in honor of St. Anthony of Padua. Next Father Lee started a new grammar school and the former school was moved to be a convent for the nuns who taught at the schools. Father Lee did not live to see the completion of the grammar school in September 1918; he died in July of that year and was buried in St. Anthony’s at the foot of the altar.

Father E. A. Kelly, Father Lee’s successor, arrived in Beaumont while the city was still experiencing the economic prosperity from the oil boom. He decided to build a new convent for the nuns at a cost of $25,000. More building projects included a brick rectory in 1922, a high school in 1926, and an outdoor recreation area in 1928. In 1937, Father Kelly began restoring and decorating the interior of St. Anthony’s. Father Kelly added oil paintings and stained glass windows at a cost of $32,000. In 1953, a new grammar school was constructed to accommodate an increasing student enrollment. This school cost $400,000 and is still in use today.

Monsignor Kelly retired from his position as pastor of St. Anthony’s in August 1954, and he passed away six months later. His successor, Reverend George Black, constructed a new high school and a new convent in 1961. In 1972, Father Marvin Enderle began restoration of the church’s interior, and he added a parking lot for the church in 1979. In 1995, under Father Beenie Patillo, St. Anthony’s had developed a parish center.

The evolution of St. Anthony’s from a Spartan church to the beautiful structure that is an historical landmark in Beaumont involved many different pastors and generations of the Catholic parishioners. St. Anthony’s is more than a place of worship; the church is involved in numerous aspects of its parishioners’ lives. Thus, St. Anthony’s is very important to the Catholics in Beaumont.