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Sad Anniversary

Originally written when I heard the news that Dr Henry Snyder had passed away, one year ago on February 29, 2016, it is being republished here. It doesn’t say enough, but hopefully it relays my own appreciation for an incredible man:

You know them. Heck, you may BE one….one of those forces of nature who are not buffeted by the winds of change, but one who powers those winds with their own sheer will.

I am not one. But I recognize them, and am drawn to them like a moth to flame.

We lost one recently. And I can’t stop weeping for the force of nature, gone.

I’ll leave it to others to share Henry Snyder's extensive credentials and measures of influence. After all, he has a wikipedia page that lists amazing things about which I had no idea and were seemingly just another day at the office for this man. For genealogists, especially those with family in/from California, you can rest assured this force helped you, by driving a site of digitized newspapers from the Golden State.

He came from newspaper folk. And he infected everyone around him with the same insatiable curiosity and unwillingness to take “no” for an answer that you’d expect from the greatest journalists.

In my sliver of time in the eddies around him, he reminded me of my own voice. He conspired with me to push our world forward. And he told stories.

He told so many stories. When he started with “Well, it seems to me…” we all knew we were in for it. For one year, I was tasked as timekeeper for the monthly gathering of board members. I was terrible at it. I simply couldn’t cut this man off. How do you tell a man literally twice your age, to “wrap it up” when he was sharing in every breath not just the what, but the how and why? It wasn’t about the destination. Well, it seems to me he was sharing the story of the journey.

Yes, he rambled here and there, like the wind meandering through the trees, like the force of nature he was. In those ramblings, he shared such heart and wisdom. Such joy. Such passion.

I weep today for the force we’ve lost. When you speak of the elders gone, you might say, as many have, “he lived a good life.” Henry Snyder did. He seemed to live MANY good lives, and for a while, one of those lives was as a board member and volunteer at California Genealogical Society with me and many others. Each one of us will always be richer for the time he shared there.

Happy Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Two teepees at the Crow Fair and Powwow, Crow Agency, Montana. Copyright 2013, Kim Cotton.
Two teepees at the Crow Fair and Powwow, Crow Agency, Montana. Copyright 2013, Kim Cotton.

Today, most of the United States is celebrating Columbus Day by shopping sales or getting other errands done if they are lucky enough to work someplace that still takes the day off.  For some, it’s just another day, or if one is Italian, there might be a parade or family gathering to celebrate their heritage in the name of a famous Italian.

However, in my neck of the woods, many choose to honor the people that lived in the Americas long before Christopher Columbus arrived in 1492 (and I’m not talking about the Vikings).  The movement started in Berkeley, the city just north of my own home base, which is well-known for their, shall we say, radical political leanings.  In 1992 the Berkeley City Council approved a city wide holiday to coincide with the federal holiday of Columbus Day, naming it Indigenous Peoples’ Day.  Wikipedia can give you more of the scoop. In recent years, other cities have joined in such a name change. We welcome Minneapolis and Seattle to the list of those who celebrate the cultures that were here before Columbus even set foot in the Americas.

Personally, I’ve been tickled to see the worthy albeit slow transition toward the better understanding of the contributions of Native Americans and rejection of Columbus as our national hero. Having studied Native American art, history, and culture in college and beyond, I’m grateful to see others appreciate the history of those who existed on this land before it was “discovered.” Though the classic genealogical tall-tale of a Cherokee Princess never existed in my own family, my DNA results actually does show some connection to Native Americans. However, the paper trail  does not yet support those results, and I make no claim to be anything other than respectful.

To those who grasp on to the Columbus Day as a celebration of Italian heritage, may I nominate April 15th as Leonardo Day. As a nation, we need another focus for our attention on that day each year, but as a civilization, we can all support the contributions of Leonardo Da Vinci. I’d applaud such a symbol of Italian heritage.

But I am not so delusional as to think that anyone will dismiss Columbus Day without local support, nor do I believe we are likely to see a significant movement to rename this day on a national level any time soon. But as you go on about your day, please take time to honor the first residents of the land we love.

52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy – Week 1

I love the idea of weekly blog prompts. I rarely expect to actually write on any weekly topic (it was only a few days ago I made a goal of monthly posts). Yet something about Amy Coffin’s series for 2012 captured me. It’s probably the concept of abundance. We are in a time of scarcity…economically, ethically, nutritionally. We are also soaked in abundance…of information. How we deal with that abundance is up to us. With that in mind, I have to consider what blog is my favorite, when I have so many to which I return, again and again, and so many that I read once and move on. Continue reading 52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy – Week 1