Her Story is Missing from Our History Books

Ruth Margaret Muskrat Bronson, a Cherokee poet, educator and Indian rights activist, is a person who should be in all our history books. Her passion, creativity, and dedication to her people alone earned her a place in history. But her story is a missing from our history books. Muskrat Bronson acted when women were struggling to be seen and to vote. In addition, she was a mixed race Indian with all the racial difficulties that came with that. It’s our national shame we don’t all know her name. Early Life Muskrat was born Sunday, October 3, 1897 in White Water, on the Delaware Nation Reservation in Indian territory (now Oklahoma). Her father, James Ezekial Muskrat, was a Cherokee who’s ancestors had traveled the Trail of Tears in the late 1839s. Ida Lenora (nee Kelly) was her mother, an Irish-English transplant from Missouri whose family had moved to Indian Territory. Muskrat’s surviving relatives and biographers believe her father’s “Restricted Indian” status and his struggle to become a citizen heavily influenced her world view . Restricted status meant that while her father held the title to their land, he could not sell or trade the land without the approval of the Secretary of the […]

The Insanity of Inequality

In 1851, the state of Illinois opened its first hospital for the mentally ill. The state legislature passed a law to protect people from being committed against his or her will. The law required a public hearing before that person was committed. With one exception, a husband could have his wife committed without either a public hearing or her consent. All the law required was “the permission of the asylum superintendent” and one doctor who agreed with the diagnosis. In the summer of 1860, Elizabeth Parsons Ware Packard (1816-1897) was a victim of that law. Such was the insanity of inequality.  Early Life Betsy Parsons Ware was born in Ware, Massachusetts on December 28, 1816, to Lucy Parsons Ware and Reverend Samuel Ware. The oldest of three children, she was the only daughter. She changed her name to Elizabeth as a teenager. Her father, a Calvinist minister, made sure all his children were well-educated. Elizabeth studied French, algebra, and the new classics at the Amherst Female Seminary. She became a teacher. Elizabeth fell ill during the 1835 winter holidays. Doctors treated her with emetics, purges, and bleeding for “brain fever.” But her symptoms (headaches and feeling delirious) continued. Her father […]

Let’s Celebrate International Literacy Day

It is September 8th. Let’s celebrate International Literacy Day. Perhaps you wonder why we should have an international literacy day. Why? Because even though you can read this, there are more than 7 million people in the world who cannot read. Think of it, 16% of the world’s population cannot read or write. And most of the illiterate are women. Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light. Vera Nazarian Why International Literacy Day? The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) created International Literacy Day in 2000. UNESCO stresses “the most powerful accelerator of sustainable development” is the ability to read and write.  Since wars begin in the minds of men and women, it is in the minds of men and women that the defences of peace must be constructed. UNESCO “UNESCO’s founding vision was born in response to a world war that was marked by racist and anti-Semitic violence. Seventy years on and many liberation struggles later, UNESCO’s mandate is as relevant as ever. Cultural diversity is under attack and new forms of intolerance, rejection of scientific facts and threats to freedom of expression challenge peace and […]