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(Occasional Treats)

A Country Rag Native Days

"We The People: Tribal Tradition"


ACR's Six-Year Sesquicentennial Series

Video above: Toumani Diabaté on kona

Quilt by Margaret Gregg, Abingdon VA
Graphic: Quilt by Margaret Gregg, Abingdon VA (Click for We Shall Overcome as sung by Joan Baez in a 60s performance)
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Civilization ~ Citizenship ~ Civility


Tomb, digital graphic by jH

"Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you." -- Deuteronomy 5:16
"For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’" -- Matthew 15:4
"Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER (which is the first commandment with a promise), SO THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH YOU, AND THAT YOU MAY LIVE LONG ON THE EARTH. Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." -- Ephesians 6:1-4

Click graphic below for up-to-date African continent map and information
digital graphic: Earliest Known World by jH -- Click for up-to-date map and info

"... Further back, dating to around 15,000 BC to 8,000 BC, single-stringed instruments have been seen in cave paintings and murals. They were struck, plucked, and eventually bowed. From these, the families of stringed instruments developed...." -- Wikipedia

Civilization, of course, as an abstract concept and material actuality first appeared on the continent of Africa, the cradle of humanity in our origin on this planet. Here are our first attempts to coexist in relative peace and productivity while seeking answers to age-old ontological questions of why we exist at all, what our purpose is, and the nature of spiritual forces felt inside and around us variously -- how we will quell or propitiate unwanted and harmful ones, how to entice pleasure and delight from the unknown and unconquerable.

For our survival, at first we constructed rough and simple tools out of materials readily at hand to accomplish desired tasks of which our fingers and feet and teeth weren't capable. Later in idle moments, we adorned those implements and expanded upon basic design for visual and tactile enjoyment and for extended functionality. With these new-found abilities, we also constructed our first "graven images," drawings and figurines believed, at least possibly and if entreated correctly, to bring protection from demonic ills, blessing from revered deities imagined and embodied for success in hunting and fertility. For them we also created ritualized movements of distance, separation and of seduction, and experimented to increase sophisticated employment of sound waves for individual vocalizations and instruments found and constructed. Most likely our first musical implement was a drum, simply a rock or tree trunk beaten with a stick found or broken off intentionally, to call attention -- perhaps to a hunt, or an herbacious edible plant discovered newly or in a new place, or an alarm of attack by beast or weather. Whomever thought to attach sinew to the stick created the first lyre (kora), and we were on our way to a country band and the city symphony just a few millenia or so later on. -- jH

Video below: Shew Beli Bileney -Berhane Haile-Roha Band, united Ethiopia and Eritrea 1990

Continental Tribes i.

"... Tribalism has a very adaptive effect in human evolution. Humans are social animals, and ill-equipped to live on their own. Tribalism and ethnocentrism help to keep individuals committed to the group, even when personal relations may fray. This keeps individuals from wandering off or joining other groups. It also leads to bullying when a tribal member is unwilling to conform to the politics of the collective.
Socially, divisions between groups fosters specialized interactions with others, based on association: altruism (positive interactions with unrelated members) kin-selectivity (positive interactions with related members), and violence (negative interactions). Thus, groups with a strong sense of unity and identity can benefit from kin selection behavior such as common property and shared resources. The tendency of members to unite against an outside tribe and the ability to act violently and prejudicially against that outside tribe likely boosted the chances of survival in genocidal conflicts.
It is logical to assume that a predisposition to tribalism, and specifically to genocide, aided early humans in their expansion into Europe. Modern examples of tribal genocide rarely reflect the defining characteristics of tribes existing prior to the Neolithic Revolution--for example, small population and close-relatedness.
According to a study by Robin Dunbar at the University of Liverpool, primate brain size is determined by social group size. Dunbar's conclusion was that the human brain can only really understand a maximum of 150 individuals as fully developed, complex people (see Dunbar's number). Malcolm Gladwell expanded on this conclusion sociologically in his book, The Tipping Point. According to these studies, then, "tribalism" is in some sense an inescapable fact of human neurology, simply because the human brain is not adapted to working with large populations. Beyond 150, the human brain must resort to some combination of hierarchical schemes, stereotypes, and other simplified models in order to understand so many people.
Nevertheless, complex societies (and corporations) rely upon the tribal instincts of their members for their organization and survival. For example, a representative democracy relies on the ability of a "tribe" of representatives to organize and deal with the problems of an entire nation. The instincts that these representatives are using to deal with national problems have been highly developed in the long course of human evolution on a small tribal scale, and this is the source of both their usefulness and their disutility. Indeed, much of the political tension in modern societies is the conflict between the desire to organize a nation-state using the tribal values of egalitarianism and unity and the simple fact that large societies are unavoidably impersonal and sometimes not amenable to small-society rules.
In complex societies, this tribalistic impulse can also be channelled into more frivolous avenues, manifesting itself in sports rivalries and other such "fan" affiliations...." -- Wikipedia

"... Interestingly, most of the more ancient African tribes practice pastoralism and live in the more arid or desert lands. The explanation of why African natives inhabiting desert lands have been able to remain traditional is because their territory is not that valuable and consequently, less likely to be desired and confiscated by outsiders and agriculturalists who seek more productive soils. The lower value of desert lands has resulted in a lesser amount of cultural loss brought about by non-natives of these ancient African tribe people inhabiting arid lands.
"One of the most ancient African tribes is the Afar or Danakil tribe. This native African tribe is located in three countries - Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti. Similar to many of the more traditional African tribe culture, the Afar are nomadic pastoral people who raise sheep, goats, and cattle in arid lands. The Afar people change their home according to the season, living near permanent water sources during the dry season and living in other areas with intermittent water sources during the rainier season. Similar to many African tribes women, the Afar women often are topless, wearing only a cloth around their waist. In addition, married Afar women wear a traditional headdress called the “shash” in their native African language. Similar to the Himba women, Afar women sometimes use a red ochre dye to enhance their appearance, but do not apply it to their entire bodies as do the Himba, but rather only to their faces.
"The native tribes of African speak a great diversity of languages dispersed among four language families, including Afro-Asiatic, Khoisan, Nilo-Saharan, and Niger-Congo. The largest number of African tribes speak languages in the Niger-Congo language family with over 400 million speakers. Niger-Congo is also the largest family in terms of geographic area covered. Perhaps the most important language in the Niger-Congo family is Swahili, the language of the Waswahili native African people. Even though there are only about 10 million native speakers of Swahili, it has become the primary language of most of East Africa and the Congo, being the official language of four countries and the African Union. Zulu is also an important language in the Bantu group of the Niger-Congo family. Perhaps the most interesting and unique of the African language families is Khoisan which is distinguished by its click consonants. Examples include Khoi and Bushman and this language family is restricted to African tribes living in the Kalahari Desert and the Rift Valley. At one time Khoisan languages are thought to cover most of African Continent and only relatively recently being reduced in geographic area by the expansion of African tribes speaking Bantu languages. In fact, most Khoisan languages are presently endangered with only Nama of Namibia being relative widespread with 250,000 speakers. The only one of the four major African language families that is common outside of the African Continent is the Afro-Asiatic language family which includes Semitic languages such as Arabic, Hebrew, Cushitic, Berber, and Chadic African tribe languages...." -- African Tribes Organization

"As people flock to the cities and life in the Western world becomes more crowded and alienating, some people are creating new social structures that resemble tribal structures. Why are people doing this? What does the tribal social structure offer that our modern world doesn’t? What are new tribes and how are they created?
All of us have ancestors that lived their lives as part of a tribe. For some of us, that may be the case now, but for most in the western world, our tribal past was many generations ago.
There are good and bad aspects to traditional tribal culture. On the one hand, a member of a tribe knew where he or she belonged. The traditional tribe is a relatively small and intimate community when compared with modern western culture. This intimacy provides a level of psychological security. The traditional tribe is culturally homogeneous. This is to say that everyone in the tribe believes in the same things. The social rules are consistent from member to member and modes of behavior, dress, play, and work are the same. This adds to the feeling of security and safety. It leads to a strong sense of self as identified with a particular tribe.
On the other hand, traditional tribal membership is restricted by blood, ethnicity, and geography. A down side to this is that sometimes a person is born into a tribe with interests and maybe a destiny that lies outside of the tribal culture. For this person the intimacy and homogeneity of the culture can feel like a prison. Their individuality is challenged and they may be pressured to conform.
In American culture today, we have a somewhat different situation. Although there is a general culture to which we can feel we belong, it has become impersonal and is becoming increasingly fragmented. This is mostly because of the sheer size of country and population. It is possible to be relatively intimate with people in numbers under 1 or 2 thousand, but try being intimate with 300 million. It’s impossible.
American culture is not monolithic like tribal cultures are. America is a melting pot of cultures. An individual has a greater degree of choice of cultural behavior. One has the opportunity to learn about and interact with many different cultures. This is good for reducing fear of “the other” but only if a person feels psychologically safe. But it can be difficult to feel psychologically safe in today’s culture. Many people feel like they are being tossed on a sea of change. They want something to cling to.
The social structures that have traditionally been meeting the need for intimacy and community in the West have mostly been churches, clubs, and civic organizations. Instead of belonging to a group of several million people, a person has the option of joining a church, for example.
In the last hundred years, several technological developments have changed the playing field when it comes to cultural choices. First, with the advent of modern transportation – planes, ships, automobiles – we have become extremely mobile. No longer is geography a barrier. Second, we have the recent boom in the development of communication technology. The Internet has been the greatest advance yet because of the potential to connect people.
Out of this comes the new tribalism. Now we have, at our fingertips, access to hundreds, if not thousands, of cultures and subcultures. Instead of feeling like the isolated weirdo in your hometown, you can connect with others who are weird in the same way you are. Not only can you communicate with like-minded people, you can visit them and maybe even live with or near others like yourself. It is now possible to create tribes by choice rather than tribes by birth. This is what’s happening.
New tribalism takes many forms but they all provides a way that people can feel like they belong yet can express their individuality. It is my contention that there is no one who is so strange that there aren’t at least a hundred people out there somewhere who are strange in the same way. Everyone can be a part of a tribe. There is a good and bad side to tribal thinking. The continuing fragmentation of western culture scares some people into joining hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan or neo-Nazi organizations. They want to reverse the evolution of culture and go back to the times when geography and ethnicity were the defining factors for their culture.
Others embrace the diversity and see the fragmentation of western culture as an opportunity to create a new culture – one that more meets their interests and needs. They are creating Urban Tribes, Taste Tribes, and more. Here are some examples:
The people who regularly attend the Burning Man Festival are becoming a tribe -a very large tribe. The growing Burning Man tribe is large enough that “clans” or sub-tribes exist within it based around particular “theme camps”. The culture being created by Burning Man participants is spreading over the western world. There are regional events in many U.S. states as well as several countries.
Another large modern tribe is the Rainbow Tribe. They also call themselves the Rainbow Family. Since 1970, they have been gathering in wild places all over America to celebrate the summer solstice.
On a different tack, there are the RV people who gather every winter in places like Slab City and Quartzsite, AZ. These are mostly retired people who travel the country in motor homes and converted buses. They form a loose-knit modern nomadic tribe. Harley-Davidson owners are another semi-nomadic tribal group, their activities based around riding their motorcycles to different destinations together...." -- Royce Carlson in The New Tribalism

Harris family crest one of many alternate versions of Harris family crest [For instance, the publisher's tribe -- Clan Harris(motto: "Ubique Patriam Reminisci" everywhere to remember our homeland/country) --is a division, or sept, of Clan Campbell. --jh]
"... Some clans are patrilineal, meaning its members are related through the male line; for example, the clans of Armenia. Others are matrilineal; its members are related through the female line, such as in some Native American clans. Still other clans are bilateral, consisting of all the descendants of the apical ancestor through both the male and female lines; the Irish and Scottish clans are examples. Another example is the Jewish people defined mainly as the clan of descendants of one male ancestor (Jacob) and four female ancestors (Leah, Rachel, Bilhah and Zilpah). Whether a clan is patrilineal, matrilineal, or bilateral depends on the kinship rules and norms of their society.
In different cultures and situations, a clan may mean the same thing as other kin-based groups, such as tribes and bands. Often, the distinguishing factor is that a clan is a smaller part of a larger society such as a tribe, a chiefdom, or a state. Examples include Scottish, Irish, Chinese, Japanese clans and Rajput clans in India and Pakistan, which exist as kin groups within their respective nations. Note, however, that tribes and bands can also be components of larger societies. Probably the most famous tribes, the 12 Biblical tribes of Israel, composed one people. Arab tribes are small groups within Arab society, and Ojibwa bands are smaller parts of the Ojibwa tribe in North America. In some cases multiple tribes recognized the same clans, such as the bear and fox clans of the Chickasaw and Choctaw tribes.
Apart from these different traditions of kinship, further conceptual confusion arises from colloquial usages of the term. In post-Soviet countries, for example, it is quite common to speak of clans in reference to informal networks within the economic and political sphere. This usage reflects the assumption that their members act towards each other in a particularly close and mutually supportive way approximating the solidarity among kinsmen. However, the Norse clans, the ätter, can not be translated with tribe or band, and consequently they are often translated with house or line.
Polish clans differ from most others as they are a collection of families who bear the same coat of arms, as opposed to claiming a common descent. This is discussed under the topic of Polish Heraldry.
Clans in indigenous societies are likely to be exogamous, meaning that their members cannot marry one another. In some societies, clans may have an official leader such as a chieftain or patriarch; in others, leadership positions may have to be achieved, or people may say that 'elders' make decisions...." -- Wikipedia

Boadicea: An Ode

by William Cowper (1731–1800)

 WHEN the British warrior queen,
     Bleeding from the Roman rods,
Sought, with an indignant mien,
     Counsel of her country's gods,

Sage beneath a spreading oak
     Sat the Druid, hoary chief;
Ev'ry burning word he spoke
     Full of rage, and full of grief.

Princess! if our aged eyes
     Weep upon thy matchless wrongs,
'Tis because resentment ties
     All the terrors of our tongues.

"Rome shall perish—write that word
     In the blood that she has spilt;
Perish, hopeless and abhorr'd,
     Deep in ruin as in guilt.

Rome, for empire far renown'd,
     Tramples on a thousand states;
Soon her pride shall kiss the ground—
     Hark! the Gaul is at her gates!

Other Romans shall arise,
     Heedless of a soldier's name;
Sounds, not arms, shall win the prize—
     Harmony the path to fame.

Then the progeny that springs
     From the forests of our land,
Arm'd with thunder, clad with wings,
     Shall a wider world command.

Regions Cæsar never knew
     Thy posterity shall sway,
Where his eagles never flew,
     None invincible as they.

Such the bard's prophetic words,
     Pregnant with celestial fire,
Bending, as he swept the chords
     Of his sweet but awful lyre.

She, with all a monarch's pride,
     Felt them in her bosom glow;
Rush'd to battle, fought, and died;
     Dying, hurl'd them at the foe.

Ruffians, pitiless as proud,
     Heav'n awards the vengeance due;
Empire is on us bestow'd,
     Shame and ruin wait for you.

Ethiopia, Click for enlargement Most of us are well-aware of the ancient and golden kingdoms of Egypt in Africa's northeast quadrant, although other earlier and magnificent African cultures across that continent are little if ever remarked or known amongst the general public. The African tribe of the dozen of Israel is shrouded in mists and myths of antiquity but perhaps the principality of Ethiopia has the soundest and most intriguing claim, including locus of the Ark of the Covenant, amidst contenders. Architecturally, that religious tradition through the Christian Era is exemplified most stunningly perhaps in the town of Lalibela's 12 monumental hewed-stone churches created around 1200 A.D. -- jH

Flag of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Ethiopia, one of the oldest independent countries in the world with a monarchy dated to the 10th century B.C. and an unusually diverse ecology of extreme contrast, is home to the ancient kingdom of D'mt (800-400 B.C.); Ge'ez is its indigenous semitic language. Having adopted Christianity as its state religion in the 4th century A.D., Ethiopia is also the origin of our modern Abrahamic Rastafari (see holy book/sacred text Kebra Negast) religious movement. Its Emperor Haile Selassie was said to be directly descendant from King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. The nation defeated an Italian army in the 19th century and, unlike the rest of Africa, has never been colonized. Slavery was abolished by Emperor Haile Selassie in 1942. In the late 20th century famine ravaged the land and population leaving over a million dead. Briefly Communist, the nation adopted a Constitution in 1994 supporting universal suffrage and a multi-party political system of elections and governance. Eighty-five percent of waters in the Nile River originate in Ethiopia. -- jH

"The country has one of the most powerful militaries in Africa. Ethiopia is the only African country with its own alphabet. Ethiopia also has its own time system and unique calendar, seven to eight years behind the Gregorian Calendar." -- Wikipedia

"According to Ethiopian tradition, the Ark of the Covenant, with the Ten Commandments on their tablets of stone, remains at Aksum today, under close guard of a priest.... When European settlers discovered ruins of great civilizations at Mapungubwe in South Africa and Great Zimbabwe in Zimbabwe (then the British colony Rhodesia), they concluded that these marvelous stone cities could not have been built by black Africans. In order to justify their oppression of the black majority population, the white imperialists created a grossly distorted history that denied African civilization and culture. In fact, until the recent end of the apartheid era, the official South African version of history maintained that southern Africa was an empty land, completely uninhabited until the first Dutch settlers arrived there in 1652. The government rationalized that the exquisite art and surviving architecture of the Shona and Bantu people of South Africa and Zimbabwe were actually the creations of Arabs, Phoenicians, or other non-African peoples. Similarly, the government of Rhodesia censored guidebooks and until as recently as the 1970s instructed archaeologists to deny that the ancient city of Great Zimbabwe was built by Africans." -- Jamila White for PBS

"... Ethiopian music uses a unique modal system that is pentatonic, with characteristically long intervals between some notes...." -- Wikipedia

(Video below: Ethiopian wello raya music)

(an example below of Ethiopian script from CyberEthiopia)
ይሁዲዎች ፍቅርና አቅብሮት ያላቸው እስራኤላውያኖች ብዙ ናቸው በኑሮ ደርጃና ትምህርት ከፍተኛ ደርጃ የደረሱ ከንጮች ኑሮ በልጠው የሚገኙ ኢትዮጵያዊያኖች ቁጥር አነስተኛ አደለም በኔ አስተሳሰብ በፈለገው ሀይማኖት ቢያምንም ሰው ኢትዮጲ ያዊ ምንግዜም ኢቶጵያዊ ነው

Video above: Birtukan wubet new amharic music

Continent of Africa Ethiopia is also the original and current home of Lucy, one of the oldest yet-discovered hominid (part of the "missing link" in the long developmental evolution toward higher and wider functioning of ape to homo sapiens sapiens) fossils of this world and an anthropological ecstacy when first found. Called Dinkenesh (wonderful one) in her homeland, she's estimated to be around 3.2 million years old and travels, as should a grande dame, around the world occasionally.

Chicago's Addis Abeba provides a fascinating upscale glimpse into Ethiopian design, style and culinary arts. At 7,546 feet above sea level, that nation's capitol, Addis Ababa founded only in 1886, provides for nearly three-and-a-half million residents who are informal representatives from all of the country's nearly 80 indigenous nationalities -- amongst its total population of around 80 million -- and speaking that many distinctly ethnic/tribal languages. The majority are Oriental Orthodox Christians with 16% remaining being Muslim and another 9% Western Protestant. Addis Abeba (an alternatively acceptable spelling), widely considered generally "clean and safe," also hosts buildings and meetings of the African Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. Like most capitol cities, it supports outstanding museums and educational institutions.

"The dietary traditions of Ethiopia's varied regions and cultures have created a unique cuisine. The essential components include berbere, a spicy, red pepper paste; niter kibbeh, a spice-infused clarified butter; and injera, a flat, moist sourdough bread with a tangy flavor and airy texture. Food is generally eaten with the hand from a communal plate." -- National Geographic

"... Since ancient times, Amharic azmari musicians have recited oral histories accompanied by the krar (lyre), masenqo (one-string fiddle) and washint (flute)." -- National Geographic

"Disks of travertine, a calcium-rich deposit, ring a hot spring in Ethiopia's Danakil Depression. Afar tribeswomen extract water from this forbidding landscape by building small stone towers over the geothermal vents. The steam condenses, and the water runs into a reservoir. When it cools, the women pour it into their goatskin bags." -- National Geographic

"Ethiopia will probably meet the Millennium Development Goal of halving the poverty rate by 2015 assuming it maintains current economic growth levels, according to the draft copy of a report written by the United Nations. The government has 'made an enormous progress in the provision of social services such as education, health, and infrastructure by spending a large share of its budget in the pro-poor sector,' the report said. 'This could be taken as the best practice from which others may learn.' Poverty reduction is central to policy in a country where half of children are 'chronically malnourished,' 47 percent are stunted and 38 percent underweight, the UN said. Still, economic growth remains vulnerable to poor weather and external financing because of the poor domestic savings rate, according to the report.... Ethiopia is also on target to achieve its goal of universal primary school education by 2015, while it is less likely to meet the targets on child mortality and environmental sustainability. The East African country is unlikely to achieve goals related to gender equality and maternal health, the UN said." -- Bloomberg Business Week

"The total forest cover of Ethiopia has tripled in size since 2000 as a result of large-scale reforestation campaigns, the authorities announced on Thursday. The impoverished Horn of Africa nation, which suffered from chronic droughts and famine in the past, has in recent years undertaken massive tree-planting campaigns to help reduce land degradation and improve its biodiversity. Ethiopia was able to increase its forest coverage to nine percent now from only three percent previously," the agriculture ministry said in a statement.... Ethiopia covers 1.1 million square kilometres and is sub-Saharan Africa's second most populous country.... Ethiopia planted more than 700 million trees in 2007 alone, according to the UN, besting Mexico which planted 217 million and the rest of the world in a drive to combat climate change through new lush forest projects.... The country's high demand for fuel wood and land for cropping and grazing had slashed its forest cover from about 35 percent of its territory in the early 20th century to just three percent by 2000, environmentalists say. Experts say trees help absorb carbon contained in the heat-trapping gases blamed for climate change. -- Associated Press

Video below: Les Ballets Africains dancers and musicians with traditional instruments

Indigenous Art ii.

Acquaintance with and immersion into African art have inspired many well-regarded and lesser-known sculptors, painters, musicians and multi-media artists worldwide. We're fortunate to have in this country on the ground and on-line some extensive and breathtaking collections in museums and galleries for introduction to and exploration of our original and profoundest inquiries into expression of what is human and what is divine, how we commemorate and memorialize events and personages, and our material and digital architectural structures for housing those comfortably and invitingly.

Tomb, digital graphic by jH

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Just answer correctly the questions from our federal Citizenship Test listed below!


A. Principles of American Democracy

1. What is the supreme law of the land?
A: The Constitution
2. What does the Constitution do?
A: sets up the government
A: defines the government
A: protects basic rights of Americans
1. What is the supreme law of the land?
A: The Constitution
2. What does the Constitution do?
A: sets up the government
A: defines the government
A: protects basic rights of Americans
3. The idea of self-government is in the first three words of the Constitution.
What are these words?
A: We the People
4. What is an amendment?
A: a change (to the Constitution)
A: an addition (to the Constitution)
5. What do we call the first ten amendments to the Constitution?
A: The Bill of Rights
6. What is one right or freedom from the First Amendment?
A: speech
A: religion
A: assembly
A: press
A: petition the government
7. How many amendments does the Constitution have?
A: twenty-seven (27)
8. What did the Declaration of Independence do?
A: announced our independence (from Great Britain)
A: declared our independence (from Great Britain)
A: said that the United States is free (from Great Britain)
9. What are two rights in the Declaration of Independence?
A: life
A: liberty
A: pursuit of happiness
10. What is freedom of religion?
A: You can practice any religion, or not practice a religion.
11. What is the economic system in the United States?
A: capitalist economy
A: market economy
12. What is the "rule of law"?
A: Everyone must follow the law.
A: Leaders must obey the law.
A: Government must obey the law.
A: No one is above the law.

B. System of Government

13. Name one branch or part of the government.
A: Congress
A: legislative
A: President
A: executive
A: the courts
A: judicial
14. What stops one branch of government from becoming too powerful?
A: checks and balances
A: separation of powers
15. Who is in charge of the executive branch?
A: the President
16. Who makes federal laws?
A: Congress
A: Senate and House (of Representatives)
A: (U.S. or national) legislature
17. What are the two parts of the U.S. Congress?
A: the Senate and House (of Representatives)
18. How many U.S. Senators are there?
A: one hundred (100)
19. We elect a U.S. Senator for how many years?
A: six (6)
20. Who is one of your state's U.S. Senators?
A: Answers will vary.
[For District of Columbia residents and residents of U.S. territories, the answer is that D.C. (or the territory where the applicant lives) has no U.S. Senators.]
21. The House of Representatives has how many voting members?
A: four hundred thirty-five (435)
22. We elect a U.S. Representative for how many years?
A: two (2)
23. Name your U.S. Representative.
A: Answers will vary. 
[Residents of territories with nonvoting Delegates or resident Commissioners may provide the name of that Delegate or Commissioner. Also acceptable is any statement that the territory has no (voting) Representatives in Congress.]
24. Who does a U.S. Senator represent?
A: all people of the state
25. Why do some states have more Representatives than other states?
A: (because of) the state's population
A: (because) they have more people
A: (because) some states have more people
26. We elect a President for how many years?
A: four (4)
27. In what month do we vote for President?
A: November
28. What is the name of the President of the United States now?
A: Barack Hussein Obama
A: Barack Obama
A: Obama
29. What is the name of the Vice President of the United States now?
A: Joe Biden
A: Joseph Biden
A: Biden
30. If the President can no longer serve, who becomes President?
A: the Vice President
31. If both the President and the Vice President can no longer serve,
who becomes President?
A: the Speaker of the House
32. Who is the Commander in Chief of the military?
A: the President
33. Who signs bills to become laws?
A: the President
34. Who vetoes bills?
A: the President
35. What does the President's Cabinet do?
A: advises the President
36. What are two Cabinet-level positions?
A: Secretary of Agriculture
A: Secretary of Commerce
A: Secretary of Defense
A: Secretary of Education
A: Secretary of Energy
A: Secretary of Health and Human Services
A: Secretary of Homeland Security
A: Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
A: Secretary of Interior
A: Secretary of State
A: Secretary of Transportation
A: Secretary of Treasury
A: Secretary of Veterans' Affairs
A: Secretary of Labor
A: Attorney General
37. does the judicial branch do?
A: reviews laws
A: explains laws
A: resolves disputes (disagreements)
A: decides if a law goes against the Constitution
38. What is the highest court in the United States?
A: the Supreme Court
39. How many justices are on the Supreme Court?
A: nine (9)
40. Who is the Chief Justice of the United States?
A: John Roberts (John G. Roberts, Jr.)
41. Under our Constitution, some powers belong to the federal government.
What is one power of the federal government?
A: to print money
A: to declare war
A: to create an army
A: to make treaties
42. Under our Constitution, some powers belong to the states. 
What is one power of the states?
A: provide schooling and education
A: provide protection (police)
A: provide safety (fire departments)
A: give a driver's license
A: approve zoning and land use
43. Who is the Governor of your state?
A: Answers will vary. 
[Residents of the District of Columbia and U.S. territories without a Governor should say "we don't have a Governor."]
44. What is the capital of your state?
A: Answers will vary. 
[District of Columbia residents should answer that D.C. is not a state and does not have a capital. Residents of U.S. territories should name the capital of the territory.]
45. What are the two major political parties in the United States?
A: Democratic and Republican
46. What is the political party of the President now?
A: Democratic (Party)
47. What is the name of the Speaker of the House of Representatives now?
A: (Nancy) Pelosi

C: Rights and Responsibilities

48. There are four amendments to the Constitution about who can vote. 
Describe one of them.
A: Citizens eighteen (18) and older (can vote).
A: You don't have to pay (a poll tax) to vote.
A: Any citizen can vote. (Women and men can vote.)
A: A male citizen of any race (can vote).
49. What is one responsibility that is only for United States citizens?
A: serve on a jury
A: vote
50. What are two rights only for United States citizens?
A: apply for a federal job
A: vote
A: run for office
A: carry a U.S. passport
51. What are two rights of everyone living in the United States?
A: freedom of expression
A: freedom of speech
A: freedom of assembly
A: freedom to petition the government
A: freedom of worship
A: the right to bear arms
52. What do we show loyalty to when we say the Pledge of Allegiance?
A: the United States
A: the flag
53. What is one promise you make when you become a United States citizen?
A: give up loyalty to other countries
A: defend the Constitution and laws of the United States
A: obey the laws of the United States
A: serve in the U.S. military (if needed)
A: serve (do important work for) the nation (if needed)
A: be loyal to the United States
54. How old do citizens have to be to vote for President?
A: eighteen (18) and older
55. What are two ways that Americans can participate in their democracy?
A: vote
A: join a political party
A: help with a campaign
A: join a civic group
A: join a community group
A: give an elected official your opinion on an issue
A: call Senators and Representatives
A: publicly support or oppose an issue or policy
A: run for office
A: write to a newspaper
56. When is the last day you can send in federal income tax forms?
A: April 15
57. When must all men register for the Selective Service?
A: at age eighteen (18)
A: between eighteen (18) and twenty-six (26)

AMERICAN HISTORY A: Colonial Period and Independence 58. What is one reason colonists came to America? A: freedom A: political liberty A: religious freedom A: economic opportunity A: practice their religion A: escape persecution 59. Who lived in America before the Europeans arrived? A: Native Americans A: American Indians 60. What group of people was taken to America and sold as slaves? A: Africans A: people from Africa 61. Why did the colonists fight the British? A: because of high taxes (taxation without representation) A: because the British army stayed in their houses (boarding, quartering) A: because they didn't have self-government 62. Who wrote the Declaration of Independence? A: (Thomas) Jefferson 63. When was the Declaration of Independence adopted? A: July 4, 1776 64. There were 13 original states. Name three. A: New Hampshire A: Massachusetts A: Rhode Island A: Connecticut A: New York A: New Jersey A: Pennsylvania A: Delaware A: Maryland A: Virginia A: North Carolina A: South Carolina A: Georgia 65. What happened at the Constitutional Convention? A: The Constitution was written. A: The Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution. 66. When was the Constitution written? A: 1787 67. The Federalist Papers supported the passage of the U.S. Constitution. Name one of the writers. A: (James) Madison A: (Alexander) Hamilton A: (John) Jay A: Publius 68. What is one thing Benjamin Franklin is famous for? A: U.S. diplomat A: oldest member of the Constitutional Convention A: first Postmaster General of the United States A: writer of "Poor Richard's Almanac" A: started the first free libraries 69. Who is the "Father of Our Country"? A: (George) Washington 70. Who was the first President? A: (George) Washington B: 1800s 71. What territory did the United States buy from France in 1803? A: the Louisiana Territory A: Louisiana 72. Name one war fought by the United States in the 1800s. A: War of 1812 A: Mexican-American War A: Civil War A: Spanish-American War 73. Name the U.S. war between the North and the South. A: the Civil War A: the War between the States 74. Name one problem that led to the Civil War. A: slavery A: economic reasons A: states' rights 75. What was one important thing that Abraham Lincoln did? A: freed the slaves (Emancipation Proclamation) A: saved (or preserved) the Union A: led the United States during the Civil War 76. What did the Emancipation Proclamation do? A: freed the slaves A: freed slaves in the Confederacy A: freed slaves in the Confederate states A: freed slaves in most Southern states 77. What did Susan B. Anthony do? A: fought for women's rights A: fought for civil rights C: Recent American History and Other Important Historical Information 78. Name one war fought by the United States in the 1900s. A: World War I A: World War II A: Korean War A: Vietnam War A: (Persian) Gulf War 79. Who was President during World War I? A: (Woodrow) Wilson 80. Who was President during the Great Depression and World War II? A: (Franklin) Roosevelt 81. Who did the United States fight in World War II? A: Japan, Germany and Italy 82. Before he was President, Eisenhower was a general. What war was he in? A: World War II 83. During the Cold War, what was the main concern of the United States? A: Communism 84. What movement tried to end racial discrimination? A: civil rights (movement) 85. What did Martin Luther King, Jr. do? A: fought for civil rights A: worked for equality for all Americans 86. What major event happened on September 11, 2001 in the United States? A: Terrorists attacked the United States. 87. Name one American Indian tribe in the United States. [Adjudicators will be supplied with a complete list.] A: Cherokee A: Navajo A: Sioux A: Chippewa A: Choctaw A: Pueblo A: Apache A: Iroquois A: Creek A: Blackfeet A: Seminole A: Cheyenne A: Arawak A: Shawnee A: Mohegan A: Huron A: Oneida A: Lakota A: Crow A: Teton A: Hopi A: Inuit INTEGRATED CIVICS A: Geography 88. Name one of the two longest rivers in the United States. A: Missouri (River) A: Mississippi (River) 89. What ocean is on the West Coast of the United States? A: Pacific (Ocean) 90. What ocean is on the East Coast of the United States? A: Atlantic (Ocean) 91. Name one U.S. territory. A: Puerto Rico A: U.S. Virgin Islands A: American Samoa A: Northern Mariana Islands A: Guam 92. Name one state that borders Canada. A: Maine A: New Hampshire A: Vermont A: New York A: Pennsylvania A: Ohio A: Michigan A: Minnesota A: North Dakota A: Montana A: Idaho A: Washington A: Alaska 93. Name one state that borders Mexico. A: California A: Arizona A: New Mexico A: Texas 94. What is the capital of the United States? A: Washington, D.C. 95. Where is the Statue of Liberty? A: New York (Harbor) A: Liberty Island [Also acceptable are New Jersey, near New York City, and on the Hudson (River).] B. Symbols 96. Why does the flag have 13 stripes? A: because there were 13 original colonies A: because the stripes represent the original colonies 97. Why does the flag have 50 stars? A: because there is one star for each state A: because each star represents a state A: because there are 50 states 98. What is the name of the national anthem? A: The Star-Spangled Banner C: Holidays 99. When do we celebrate Independence Day? A: July 4 100. Name two national U.S. holidays. A: New Year's Day A: Martin Luther King, Jr., Day A: Presidents' Day A: Memorial Day A: Independence Day A: Labor Day A: Columbus Day A: Veterans Day A: Thanksgiving A: Christmas
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Graphic below: Setting Sail, oil by Jo Yaa, East Tennessee

Setting Sail, oil by Jo Yaa, East Tennessee Signers of our Declaration of Independence were from the colonies of NH(3), MA(4), RI(2), CN(4), NY(4), NJ(5), PA(9), DE(3), MD(4), VA(7), NC(3), SC(4) and GA(3).

Signatories of the United States Constitution were from the states of NH(2), MA(2), CN(2), NY(1), NJ(4), PA(8), DE(5), MD(3), VA(2), NC(3), SC(4), and GA(2).

"The State of Franklin, or Frankland, from 1784 to 1788, [Tennessee] was finally named after the Cherokee villages called tanasi on the Little Tennessee River.... It was the 11th and last state to secede on 6/8/61, and the first to be readmitted on 7/24/66. South Carolina was the first secessionist state on 12/20/60, and Texas the last to be readmitted on 3/30/70." -- New York Public Library Desk Reference

Tennessee, having amongst the Confederate States the second highest number of Civil War battles fought on its lands, has many commemorative fields and reenactments annually of those presaging years across its diverse latitude.

Fort Pillow in Tennessee is perhaps the most referenced massacre to be memorialized.

"The split between Unionists and Confederates was, if anything, more fractious and violent in eastern Tennessee than in the rest of the state. Politically and geographically, the mountainous East was distinctive. Although there were slaveowners, particularly in Chattanooga and Knoxville, most east Tennesseans lived apart from the cotton economy and strongly opposed secession. Most of the 42,000 white Tennesseans who joined the Union Army were from this section. The East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad, joined to the East Tennessee and Georgia Railroad, was the only railway that crossed the Appalachian Mountains and connected Virginia with the South’s interior. While rivers held the key to west and middle Tennessee, railroads supplied the crucial arteries in the east. This made the region of vital importance to the Confederacy, whose troops occupied Knoxville and tried early in the war to secure the valley towns. An irony of the war in Tennessee was that Federals controlled mostly secessionist areas, while the Confederate Army held sway over a predominantly Unionist region. One of the first acts of east Tennessee Unionists was to burn railroad bridges in an attempt to sever the rail connections with the Confederacy. Confederate authorities reacted by harshly suppressing loyalists – they hung a number of the bridge burners and imprisoned many other Unionists.... The Chattanooga and Knoxville campaigns cemented Union control of the mountain region. Depredations by Confederate raiders continued, but Federal supremacy was never again seriously challenged. In September, 1864, General John Hunt Morgan, formerly a terror to Union troops, was ignominiously shot down in Greeneville. The political significance of east Tennessee Unionism became evident during the 1864 national election, when Lincoln drafted a Greeneville Democrat, Andrew Johnson, as his vice presidential running mate. The selection of a Southern loyalist symbolized the sort of compromise that Lincoln believed would be necessary to reunify the country after the war. East Tennessee Unionists such as Johnson and William G. "Parson" Brownlow would lead the process of restoring Tennessee to the nation – the first Confederate state to do so." -- Tennessee Civil War History Trail

1865: first state civil rights law passed in MA; 13th Amendment abolishing slavery passed; KKK formed in Pulaski TN
1869: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony established the National Women's Suffrage Association
1870: Victoria Claflin Woodhul becomes first female Presidential candidate
1872: Southern franchise is restored
1875: Civil Rights Act gives equal rights to blacks in public accommodations and jury duty
1881: the Civil Rights Act is invalidated by the Supreme Court; all-black Tuskegee Institute established by Booker T. Washington
1890: Sherman Anti-Trust law is passed by Congress
1893-97: national financial panic

"The American Revolution in the South is the theme of a potential national heritage area that may be established in North Carolina and South Carolina. During the next two years, representatives from the National Park Service, NC and SC will conduct a feasibility study for such a heritage area and report back to Congress in 2010 with a recommendation. Several criteria apply to achieving the status of a national heritage area and all will be evaluated quite carefully. One important subject area has 'the natural, historic, and cultural resources that together represent distinctive aspects of American heritage worthy of recognition, conservation, interpretation, and continuing use' and that can be best managed through public/private partnerships. 'This is a wonderful opportunity for the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail,' said Paul Carson. 'Not only will we be linking our heritage story with other parks, museums, trails and the like, but we will be able to tell our special story of how the OVNHT has come to be. After all, our Trail, stretching across four states and 330 miles, exists as a result of and through continuing public and private cooperation.... Those wishing to comment without attending a meeting can submit remarks at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/serv. Click on the link for Southern Campaign of the Revolution Heritage Area." -- OVNHT 2008 Progress Report


oil by Margaret Gregg, Abingdon VA
Graphic above: oil painting by Margaret Gregg, Abingdon VA (Click for We Shall Overcome as sung in the 60s by Mahalia Jackson)

A few other notables from Tennessee African American History:
  • Dr. Dorothy Brown (1919-2004): "In the 1940s, surgery was not a real career option in the south for an African-American female. The person who broke that glass ceiling was Dr. Dorothy Brown. Born in Philadelphia in 1919, Brown was placed in an orphanage in New York until she was 13 years old. Her mother reclaimed Brown at that age, but Brown ran away five times, each time returning back to the orphanage, where she felt comfortable. She was placed in a foster home at the age of 15 and enrolled in Troy High School. Her foster parents were Lola and Samuel Wesley Redmon. They became a major influence in Dorothy Brown's life, a source of security, support and enduring values.
    Brown graduated from high school at the top of the her class in 1937 and was awarded a four-year scholarship to Bennett College in Greensboro NC. She received her bachelor's degree in 1947, graduating second in her class. Brown had always wanted to become a physician and enrolled in Meharry Medical College in Nashville TN, graduating in 1948.
    After an internship at Harlem Hospital, she set her goal for a surgery residency in the South, where there were no African-American women in general surgery. Brown was accepted into a five-year surgery residency program at Meharry and George W. Hubbard Hospital. She withstood many obstacles and became an assistant professor of surgery and the first African-American woman to be made a fellow of the American College of Surgeons. From 1957 to 1983, Brown served as the chief of surgery at Nashville's Riverside Hospital and clinical professor of surgery at Meharry Medical College.
    There are other 'firsts' associated with Brown. She became the first single mother to adopt a baby in Tennessee. In 1966, she ran for and won a seat in the state legislature, becoming the first African-American female to serve on the legislative body.
    ... The Carnegie Foundation awarded her a humanitarian award.... She considered herself a role model, not so much for all the things she accomplished, but proving to young people that they can succeed no matter what challenges they face in life."
  • Ernest C. Withers (1922-2007): "Capturing African-American history through his lens was a God-given talent possessed by photographer Ernest C. Withers. A native Memphian, he captured the African-American experiences, immortalizing people, events, and the cultural and societal changes surrounding him. As an African-American man, he was poised to witness and record the struggle for civil rights that enveloped the Memphis community during this time.
    His stunning black-and-white images bear witness to the movement's slow but steady progress, from the grisly murder of young Emmett Till to the integration of Little Rock High School. Withers was there for the high points such as teh first desegregated bus ride, as well as the lowest point marked by the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther Kind Jr. at the Lorraine Motel. He is known around the world for his 'I Am A Man' sanitation strike photograph.
    ... Over several decades he photographed the likes of B. B. King, Isaac Hayes, Aretha Frankln and Elvis Presley. Withers captured them in the heat of driving performances, mugging for his camera and at quieter moments backstage.
    As a freelance photographer, Withers often attended Negro League Baseball games where he was treated like an insider. He knew the players, photographing them in action or posed with family and fans on the field.
    ... Pictures Tell The Story is the first retrospective look at the more than 50-year career of Ernest Withers. The recipient of numerous awards, Withers received two honorary doctorate degrees and was inducted into the Black Press Hall of Fame in 1988. His photographic genius continues to be displayed in multiple exhibits in museums and public buildings across the country."
Graphic below: Photograph of historical marker for Langston High School, Johnson City TN
Historical marker for Langston High School, Johnson City TN

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