What It Means to Be American
A National Conversation

Explore : tradition

Places

Every October, on Martha’s Vineyard, We Celebrate Cranberry Day

For as Long as Anyone Knows, the Wampanoag Have Connected to Their History Through the Fruit and the Bogs Where It Grows

Just-picked cranberries drying on newspaper, the day after a hard rain.  Photo by Beverly Wright.

By Beverly Wright
October 9, 2017

Many know the place I live, an island off the southern coast of Massachusetts, as Martha’s Vineyard, a vacation spot for celebrities including Presidents Clinton and Obama. But those of us in the Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe know it as Noepe, our home for at least 13,000 years. Though the whole island used to be our traditional homelands, today, our homelands form the westernmost part of the island, centered on the Town of Aquinnah and including many cranberry bogs. It’s there—on …

Read More >

Ideas

The 1900 World’s Fair Produced Dazzling Dynamos, Great Art, and Our Current Conversation About Technology

Henry Adams’ Influential but Largely Forgotten Warning About Science Superseding Soul is Especially Relevant Today

Molella on world fair LEAD

By Art Molella
August 30, 2016

Debates rage today about the risks and benefits of modern technology. Driverless cars, the use of drones in warfare and commerce, the deployment of robots in place of human soldiers, surgery by robotic rather than human hands. The Internet of Things that puts digital devices in just about everything. Artificial intelligence not only assisting but superseding the human brain. Genetic manipulation of food, organisms, and human parts. Human cloning—even the manufacture of human beings.

The National Institutes of Health recently …

Read More >

Places

What Exactly Is Appalachian Cuisine?

Spam, Soup Beans, and Cornbread Define This Hardscrabble Region

Appalachian soup beans

By Fred Sauceman
March 13, 2015

On the first day of my foodways of Appalachia course at East Tennessee State University, I always play a one-minute audio recording. It’s the voice of Marilou Awiakta, a Cherokee poet and storyteller.

Marilou grew up poor in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, about two and a half hours away from Johnson City, where the university is located. A Sunday baked ham, she recalls, was a rare luxury. Instead, her mother would score a Spam loaf in a pretty crosshatch pattern, coat it …

Read More >