Category Archives: History

World History and the Meaning of Being Human – Developing into a Dancer: My Own Foundation Myth – by Alexa Lee. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

World History and the Meaning of Being Human – Developing into a Dancer: My Own Foundation Myth – by Alexa Lee. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

My mom read to me all the time, but especially before bed, and I had a book about a ballerina that was my absolute favorite. She jokes that she had it memorized, and still does (even though neither of us remember the title, so I am not so sure about that). After she read this book one night, we kissed goodnight and I drifted off thinking about ballerinas. That night, I had a dream that I was a dancer – a tap dancer. There were flowers thrown on the stage, the lights were hot, people were cheering, and there was a tall blonde woman in front of me moving her feet and making noise with them. I knew I was supposed to mimic her steps, but I couldn’t move. It was actually a nightmare, and I was so scared I had an accident, both on the stage and in real life. I woke up crying, and my mom rushed into my room. When she saw what happened, she soaked my sheets in the laundry tub and I got to sleep with her that night.

The next morning, I asked her if I could join dance because I wanted to know how to make noise with my feet. It was the middle of the year so she thought it was unlikely, but perhaps they would let me. She brought me to Becky’s Dance Studio in Cloquet, Minnesota. We were told that there was no way I could be in recital, the dances were already started and costumes ordered, but I could be in the class anyways and not perform. My mom said that was fine, and I went to the class that day. My teacher was tall and blonde, and I told my mom it was the lady from my dream. She even stood right in front of me and would move her feet, telling us to copy her. That time, I did, and I did so well, I got to perform in the recital that May. To this day, before I perform, I think about that dream. If I did not have it or the accident, I probably would not have joined dance because then I would not have been facing my fears. I still think about four-year-old me, how far I have come, and how the urge that I might pee my pants before a performance in front of five or five hundred people never goes away, despite the fact that I have been doing it for seventeen years.

I think my foundation myth relates closely with the primary source “Becoming a Brahman Priest” in Tignor’s book. Satyakama asked his mother whose family he belonged to, and she did not know. He then asked Guatama Haridrumata if he could be a Brahman Priest, and when he answered honestly that he did not know what family he came from, Guatama Haridrumata exclaimed that only a true Brahman would “speak out” like that (149). I think this relates to my experience of becoming a dancer because I asked to be one like he asked to be a priest. We also were both questioned, but ultimately given the opportunity and in some way proved that we were worthy of the chance – him by speaking out, and me by being able to remember the steps.

Another founding myth in Tignor’s book was the Shang Dynasty’s. Its ruler, Tang, defeated the previous king and offered himself up to end the drought that was brought on when “the sun dimmed, frost and ice appeared in the summer, and a long drought followed heavy rainfall and flooding” (103). This is different from my story because it involves more people and the beginning of an entire empire, but it is also similar because it was a time of despair. Theirs was a little more intense, but both the Shang and I were looking for an answer to a problem that we came across, and creation myths are universal in this way.

The Amazon people in the documentary we watched had a surplus of rituals and creation stories. One story that I think aligns well with mine was about this rock that they believed was a spirit that would appear in human form during rituals. Although she was in human form in my dream and real life, my dance teacher appeared before I met her. Her appearance in my dream started my dance career, and she was more symbolic and spiritual than real. This relates to our class discussions about being mindful when hearing creation stories. It may seem ridiculous that I think I dreamed about my teacher before I met her, and so might the idea that a rock can turn into a human, but we both believe it and have rituals that surround it. My mom is the one who reminds me that I was meant to be a dancer because of my dream, and it bonds us. The Amazon people also shared their stories with their children to connect on a deeper level. Without founding myths, this kind of connection would be nearly impossible.

Founding myths are around us everywhere that we look, and they do have a universal purpose for humans. For one, they provide answers, but they also provide values and importance to one’s life. They are a way to preserve the memory of something that is very important to the individual, or to a mass amount of people, in an effort to see connections and have a sense of where they come from. Additionally, humans tend to read into things a lot more, so maybe the Shang were making something more of the drought, the Amazons were making something more out of a rock, and I was making something more out of a dream, but does it matter? It changed the course of our lives in one way or another, and that is what is important, not its probability or factuality. Our myths are true because they make us happy, they give us purpose, and we believe them. They are also fun to tell. To me, that is all that matters and all I need.

From Professor Liang’s Spring 2017 World History I class.

Works Cited, Tignor, Robert L., et al. Worlds Together, Worlds Apart: A History of the World: Beginnings Through the Fifteenth Century. 4th ed. New York: W.W. Norton, 2014. Print.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In three years we have published over 250 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. The North Star Reports is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports. Eleni Birhane and Matthew Breeze, Assistant Managing Editors, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, with generous support from The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Filed under History, Professor Hong-Ming Liang, Professor Liang's Classes

World History and the Meaning of Being Human – Myths, Storytelling, and The Moon – by Der Yang. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

World History and the Meaning of Being Human – Myths, Storytelling, and The Moon – by Der Yang. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

[Original art work from Der Yang]

Coming from many regions across South-East Asia, there is one of many myths that haunts my past today. This folktale is about a woman, with a name that I did not initially know of, who lived on the moon. According to an article by A Beginner’s Guide to Hmong Shamanism, it states that the Chinese society calls this woman Chang E, the goddess of the moon. The folklore of this woman dates back to as long as my ancestors can remember. Passed down onto my parents and my generation, I still remember the story today. The moon that everyone sees now at night, is the symbol of this myth. Although very short, I had an unforgettable experience.

Chang E was known as a vengeful spirit because she longed for her husband. When she lived as a human being, her husband was given a magical immortality potion as a reward for saving the world from the ten blazing suns. He took down nine and left one for the world to stay bright. However, as nearby civilians heard the news, they gained greed and selfishness for a long life, causing them to invade Chang E’s home. Without her husband present, her fear and impulsivity caused her to swallow the magic. She was then automatically sent to the sky, choosing the moon as her new home. Since then, Chang E has been known to punish any and everyone who points her way, a sign of attack.

From my experience, my parents have always told me from a very young age to never point at the moon. At the age of four, I never understood the reasons behind their story of the moon. They would tell me that if I looked long and hard enough, a woman sitting on the moon would wave to me. They would say that this woman was bound to cut my ears if I pointed her way. However, I thought to myself, “How could this person possibly come to earth and cut my ears off? How could this woman that mom and dad keep mentioning hurt me if she is so far away?”

A few days right after learning about this mysterious woman on the moon, I shared the cool news with my older cousins at a gathering. Unfortunately, it was right around 8-9 PM in the summer and the moon was starting to appear. Being the “wise and nice” cousins they were, they told me that if I pointed at the moon, then I would be able to go to the playground with them. I directly shot my tiny pointer finger towards the big, round moon. After a two second wait, everyone laughed at me and told me that I only told fibs. No one believed this myth, not even myself.

When I arrived home, I didn’t think much of the actions I completed. I bathed and got ready for bed, as usual. The only unusual thing was the skin area connecting my right earlobe to my head felt a bit sore. It felt as if someone was tugging on my earlobe for a very long time and wanted it off. That may sound exaggerated, but I remember the fine details of this incident.

The next day, I found my earlobe full of scab and discomfort. Tears ran down my eyes while I cluelessly ran to my mother. After I told my mother about my actions the night before, I remember her scolding me, “I told you to listen to me but you did not and this is what you deserve.” She then formed a small ball of spit in her mouth and spat on her fingers. Her hands moving closely to my right ear lobe, I moved in objection to her spit. Nonetheless, she firmly grabbed me by my ear and chanted, “Quav qaib, quav npua, quav nyuj, quav twm.” Which translates in English as chicken poop, pig poop, cow poop, buffalo poop. She chanted this phrase once while rubbing my ear with the spit. Surprisingly, it was soothing. I then asked my mother what she was doing and the reasons behind it. She explained, “It is our ritual to help your ear from getting worse, to heal it faster. However, it would have been preventable if you told me right after you did what you have done. That way, she will not come to get your ear as I have just spread all sorts of poop on your ear [figuratively].”

According to history book Worlds Together, Worlds Apart, by Robert Tignor and other authors, a myth can be found throughout the chapters but specifically on page 179. El Lanzón is an excellent art carving from the Chavín in the Andes. The example of El Lanzón portrays some of the similarities as my myth shared above. It is a large monument demonstrating the aspects of one of their deities. It shows features of snakes, cats, and human parts. Its whole picture conveys a hybrid supernatural figure, possessing powerful strengths. Tignor states, “Carved stone jaguars, serpents, and hawks, baring their large fangs and claws to remind believers and nature’s powers, dominated the spiritual landscape.” [179] Unlike the myth of Chang E, there seems to be no artistic representation in the Hmong culture, the culture that I identify with. Yet, in China or other south Asian countries, there are many drawings and video games based on the goddess of the moon.

Pertaining to class discussions, all human beings are contradictory and complex, multifaceted, and teachable [Professor Liang].  Just like all of the civilizations from the Tignor’s work, people from Ancient Voices, Modern World: The Amazon, and my own society, we are hard to understand, adaptable, and we have a mindset willing to expand. Artifacts have proven the different lives at different times all around the world. We as social creatures live off from traditions, folktales, and skills to survive. An example would be the legend of the Basarana river people, also known as the lost Amazonian. Their culture and belief system is so vastly different from ours, yet somewhat similar. When celebrations happen, there are many rituals to be done, ancestors are involved in one way or another, and cultural preservation is relevant. Such as the making of their bread, stitching of cultural hats, and preparation of hallucinogenic drinks. The bread is passed out at the end of the ceremony to represent completion and blessings. The hats, created from feathers, shells, beads, etc, are worn by mostly men of the river people to signify pride. Created from feathers, shells, beads, etc. Last but not least, their drinks are prepared with a type of drug to lighten their moods and dwell wholly in their ceremony. The Basarana people share sacred locations and activities just as us many Americans do.

Today, many of us as social creatures like to look into the world and search for a supernatural explanation of why things are the way they are. Personally, I think that myths and legends are universal features in the human existence. Their existence makes us human by allowing us to hold a history to our name. With histories, we are able to learn from them and utilize them as a guideline to life. Whether a history is true or false, it is a myth that has power over some individuals more than the others. Not everyone will believe in myths. Nonetheless, these imaginative stories give human beings a sense of energy to continue the human existence. Additionally, just as it has occurred within my life to the Basarana people, fables are meant to be shared through many generations.

[From Professor Liang’s Spring 2017 World History I class]

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In three years we have published over 250 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. The North Star Reports is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports. Eleni Birhane and Matthew Breeze, Assistant Managing Editors, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, with generous support from The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Filed under History, Professor Hong-Ming Liang, Professor Liang's Classes

The Oldest Building — The Grant House, Rush City, Minnesota – The North Star Reports – by Mackenzie Sherrill. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

The Oldest Building — The Grant House, Rush City, Minnesota – The North Star Reports – by Mackenzie Sherrill. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

mackenziebuilding

The Grant House in Rush City, Minnesota was built in the year 1880 in the heart of what was then a flourishing milling town. Rush City was growing due to the completion of the railroads that covered Minnesota from the Twin Cities all the way to Duluth. As more and more people traveled the railroads for trade and farming, they would often stop in Rush City to eat and sleep since this was the halfway point along their route. For this very reason, Russell H. Grant, second cousin of President Ulysses S. Grant, decided to build the Grant House to serve as the central building of the town where people gathered to eat, rest, and relax during their travels. The president himself was said to be a popular visitor at the Grant House, as he was often in the area for trout fishing on the Sunrise River.

After a fire destroyed much of the original hotel and restaurant in 1895, Russell Grant decided to build a more solid foundation upon the original foundation which had survived the flames of the fire. The new structure of the building included 16-inch thick bricks and some of the original woodwork, which can still be seen in the Grant House today. Then in the fall of 1896, Russell Grant sold the Grant House, and ownership of the building has been since passed to several different people, the latest being Barbara Johnson, who purchased the Grant House in 2012. I went to the Grant House on Sunday morning and spoke with Barbara, who was both very knowledgeable, and also quite excited to share information with me after informing her that my research was for a history class I was currently taking in college.

Growing up in Rush City, I heard many stories about the building from people in the community, but never really had read or done any research on the Grant House for myself. It has been one of the buildings in my town that has always been in business, despite the hard economic times many have recently been experiencing. The endurance and strength of the building holds such significance to both my community and me. It is not only a symbol of why our community was started in the first place, but also a symbol of the town’s historic value. Today, it continues to be a place where the residents of the surrounding communities can come to have a nice meal, and even stay the night if they chose to do so. As my research came to an end, I concluded that buildings hold a very important significance as a place where people can gather and talk about their days or share stories and pieces of history that can be passed down from one generation to the next.

[From Professor Liang’s Spring 2015 World History II class]

The Oldest Building. World History students at our host institution, The College of St. Scholastica, were given the assignment to find out about the oldest building in their hometown. The structures students ranged from the modest to grand, and while some were well-documented, the history of most was hard to find. Through their research students found valuable local resources as they found out more about the development of their hometowns. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, The College of St. Scholastica and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal’s online learning community and outreach program with undergraduate and K-12 classes around the world. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:

http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

The North Star Reports publishes edited essays from our students, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. Students have reported from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, Norway, northeastern China, Micronesia, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing reviews of books, documentaries, and films, and analysis of current events from around the world. We will post their dispatches, and report on their interactions with the North Star Reports students and teachers. We thank The Department of History and Politics and the School of Arts and Letters of The College of St. Scholastica for their generous financial support for The North Star Reports and The Middle Ground Journal.

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports.
(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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What’s in a Name? — Lake Koronis, Minnesota – The North Star Reports – by Zach Friederichs. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

What’s in a Name? — Lake Koronis, Minnesota – The North Star Reports – by Zach Friederichs. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

lakekoronis zach
[Lake Koronis – Photo taken by Ann Friederichs]

A name is arguably the best way to identify a person, place or thing. They are used as a concrete point of reference and save lots of time and effort in comparison to using a long list of possible adjectives that could be used to arrive to the same point.

Names don’t just pop up out of thin air, they are generally assigned by someone or some group who have encountered the assignee first and have felt the need to give a label. It seems fair enough to me to let the discoverer call the shots just as your parents called the shot upon your first few weeks of life. Although, this has been known to cause conflict, especially when the name is offensive or the nature of the discovery is unofficial.

A name that is of interest to me is Lake Koronis. It is a 3,000-acre, freshwater, glacial-made lake located in Stearns County in the Southwestern part of Minnesota. It is very unusual in that it has three islands going straight cross its center. This name is important to me because I was raised in a small house located on its shores and spent much of my childhood playing and swimming in its clear waters.

There is some controversy surrounding the origins of the name of the lake which involves two competing theories. The most widely held theory draws from an account of an Indian maiden named Koronis who leapt off of a high edge on one of the islands in order to escape a marriage she did not want. The second theory refers to the shape made by the three islands as a crown, which is translated from the Greek word korones. Needless to say, the first theory is a bit more exciting and acknowledges the presence of the Dakota Indians in the area. The Dakota Indians were said to migrate up the North Crow River by canoe during the spring season in search of resources after spending their winters in the Mankato area. Later, European explorers settled the area in the late 19th century and the Dakota Indians were forced out.

The name Lake Koronis has always acted as a word that describes my home and a beautiful place for vacationers to spend the summer. I think a lot of history and economic development would be lost if the name were to be changed. It may be simple but it has served as a point of reference and description for well over a century. It would take lots of time and effort to create a new legacy to accompany a new name.

[From Professor Liang’s Spring 2015 World History II class.]

What’s In a Name? World History students at our host institution, The College of St. Scholastica, were assigned the task of researching the name of a person or place with a personal connection to their lives, looking into the history of the name, the motives behind its use, and the significance of the name in the past and present. Students selected a variety of names including hometowns near and far and family names. Whether it was a name they’d always wondered about or one long taken for granted, their findings were often unexpected. Even when the name itself was not found to be especially meaningful a recurring theme emerged of increased awareness and respect for those who came before and the value of knowing their stories. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, The College of St. Scholastica and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal’s online learning community and outreach program with undergraduate and K-12 classes around the world. The North Star Reports has flourished since 2012. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:

http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

The North Star Reports publishes edited essays from our students, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. Students have reported from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, Norway, northeastern China, Micronesia, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing reviews of books, documentaries, and films, and analysis of current events from around the world. We will post their dispatches, and report on their interactions with the North Star Reports students and teachers. We thank The Department of History and Politics and the School of Arts and Letters of The College of St. Scholastica for their generous financial support for The North Star Reports and The Middle Ground Journal.

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

11150890_447281555439307_3652092331655400221_n

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Filed under History, North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang, Professor Liang's Classes

What’s in a Name? — My Family Name, Pederstuen – The North Star Reports – by Karn Pederstuen. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

What’s in a Name? — My Family Name, Pederstuen – The North Star Reports – by Karn Pederstuen. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

KarnName1

[Photo 1: Although I did not have a picture of Paul, this is a picture of his son Torger’s family. Names in order from left to right: Ingman, Torger, Palmer, Guri, Morris (my grandfather), and Jalmer.]

Every time I sit in class while the teacher takes attendance, am next in line for a ceremony, or any other time I am waiting for my name to be called, I try to predict if the speaker will be able to say my name correctly. Most of the time, the answer is no. While I am proud of my last name, “Pederstuen” is not a very common name, nor is it easy to pronounce. After the first botched attempt at pronouncing my last name, it takes some people two or even three more tries to get it right. After finally mastering how to properly pronounce Pederstuen, people often inquire to its origin. I quickly reply that it is a Norwegian name and most of the time the questions stop there. However, I did have one professor this year that asked what my last name meant. Sadly, I had to answer that I didn’t know. A quick Google search did not clarify the meaning or origin of my name, and I did not look any further. However, I recently looked into my family history, and I was able to find out how the Pederstuen name began.

Karn name 2

[Photo 2: This is a picture of my great-great grandfather’s farm near present day Skabu.]

My research was quite simple. I asked my parents to bring me a binder that is full of typewritten pages about my family history which trace my family lineage on the paternal side. The Pederstuen family name began with my great-great grandfather, Paul Syverhuset. The book about my family history explained that it was customary for someone to change their family name and take on the name of the farm they lived on. Later, my great-great grandfather moved to Perstuggu (near present day Skabu) and took that on as the new family name. In the spring of 1906, Paul and some of his children came to America, the rest joining them that summer. When Paul moved to America, he went to live on the farm where his sister, Anna, was already living. It was then that Paul changed his last name to Pederstuen. I discovered the Pederstuen means Peder’s house or living place. Although I do not know where the Pederstuen came from before that, this is the point it first came into my family lineage, eventually being passed on to me.

I am glad that my family has such a detailed record of our history and that I had to opportunity to learn from it. I now have a better understanding of how my family name came to be, and I am grateful for this stronger connection with my family history.

[From Professor Liang’s Spring 2015 World History II class.]

What’s in a Name? World History students at our host institution, The College of St. Scholastica, were assigned the task of researching the name of a person or place with a personal connection to their lives, looking into the history of the name, the motives behind its use, and the significance of the name in the past and present. Students selected a variety of names including hometowns near and far and family names. Whether it was a name they’d always wondered about or one long taken for granted, their findings were often unexpected. Even when the name itself was not found to be especially meaningful a recurring theme emerged of increased awareness and respect for those who came before and the value of knowing their stories. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, The College of St. Scholastica and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal’s online learning community and outreach program with undergraduate and K-12 classes around the world. The North Star Reports has flourished since 2012. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:

http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

The North Star Reports publishes edited essays from our students, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. Students have reported from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing reviews of books, documentaries, and films, and analysis of current events from around the world. We will post their dispatches, and report on their interactions with the North Star Reports students and teachers. We thank The Department of History and Politics and the School of Arts and Letters of The College of St. Scholastica for their generous financial support for The North Star Reports and The Middle Ground Journal.

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored by The Middle Ground Journal and The College of St. Scholastica. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Filed under History, Karn Pederstuen, North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang, Professor Liang's Classes