Honoring ancestors at Dickson Mounds
Editor: I appreciate the inclusion in the December issue of Dan Guillory's essay on Dickson Mounds (pp. 21-25). In the 12 years I have lived in Illinois, I have visited the museum probably a half-dozen times, and it is always memorable to out-of-state guests whom I have escorted there. The reaction is one of awe. Personally, I do not feel separate from these remains; rather, as part of the human race now inhabiting central Illinois, I feel a kinship with those who once walked these fertile grounds, observed the same sunrises and sunsets, and wondered at the mighty rivers running through this vast prairie. In viewing the mummified remains of ancient Egyptians on display at the Field and British museums I find them to be tangible evidence of my connectedness to that time and place in human history also.
The pending legislation that will give Native Americans ownership of the skeletal remains at Dickson Mounds appears to be the best political solution, one which does indeed demonstrate that in a democracy the majority can bend it to the wishes of a minority. However, once Native Americans have this authority legalized, they have another decision to make and that is whether the only proper way to honor their ancestors is to bury them literally. A case could be made that honoring their dead could also mean overseeing the preservation of their remains for anthropological study and medical research to benefit all mankind, thus underscoring that as human beings we have much more in common in our hopes for the future of the human race than we have dividing us in our political history. As the Native American proverb on my wall states, "All honorable men belong to the same tribe."
Jacqueline J. Cresswell, D.D.S.
Conventional literacy models merit attention too
Editor: I'd like to thank you for publishing the short article ("Adult illiteracy: new frontiers at home and on the job," by Grant Pick in December, pp. 26-28) describing some of the activities of our family literacy program. To be truthful, though, we were expecting a slightly longer article that might also have touched upon some of the more traditional (e.g., individualized adult tutoring) programming that we have had success with. When one considers the social context in which our work is performed, success with more conventional models of literacy programming could be exemplary, even pioneering.
We do understand, however, the limitations that any publication must work within. So, again, we are most grateful to Illinois Issues for sharing information concerning our activities with its readership. We might add that we've already begun to receive letters and telephone calls in response to the article.
For individuals or programs that are interested, the title of my oral history is We Think With Our Hearts: An Oral History of Literacy and Community. This book is to be published during the winter of 1991. So far, I have given a number of workshops and lectures focusing on varying aspects of oral history collection within the context of literacy programming.
Also, our poetry workshop has published an anthology of poetry written by students in our literacy program entitled Echoes (fall 1990). Interested parties may obtain copies by sending $5 plus $1 postage to the Chicago Public Library, Stateway Gardens Branch, CPL/CHA Literacy Initiative, 3618 South State Street, # 105, Chicago, IL 60609.
Readers: Your comments on articles and columns are welcome. Please keep letters brief (250 words); we reserve the right to excerpt them so as many as space allows can be published. Send your letters to —
Caroline Gherardini, Editor
February 1991/Illinois Issues/7