Saturday, July 16, 2005

History of Western Sahara

History of Western Sahara. This is a history of one of the largest pieces of disputed real estate in the world. Western Sahara is not a nation and never has been. It was formerly a Spanish colony. When Spain withdrew in 1975, Morocco promptly attempted to annex the area.

To this day, the sovereignty of the Western Sahara remains the subject of a dispute between Morocco and the Polisario Front (Popular Front for the Liberation of the Saguia el Hamra and Rio de Oro).

In 1991, a cease fire was agreed to with the understanding that their would be a referendum on the status of Western Sahara with a choice between annexation to Morocco or independence. The election was never held. In 2003, Morocco noted that it will no longer accept independence as one of the ballot options.

It is unfortunate that this matter is not in the news much. This matter should be put on the ballot with the people of Western Sahara being able to determine their own fate. A clear vote would end this dispute one way or the other. (And maybe that is why Morocco will not allow a vote?)

From the site:

In 1975, the International Court of Justice issued an advisory opinion on the status of the Western Sahara. The Court held that while some of the region's tribes had historical ties to Morocco, the ties were insufficient to establish "any tie of territorial sovereignty" between the Western Sahara and the Kingdom of Morocco. The Court added that it had not found "legal ties" that might affect the applicable U.N. General Assembly resolution regarding the decolonization of the territory, and, in particular, the principle of self-determination for its people. Most Sahrawis (as the majority of persons living in the territory are called) live in the area controlled by Morocco, but there is a sizable refugee population near the border with Morocco in Algeria, and, to a lesser extent, in Mauritania. The majority of the Sahrawi population lives within the area delineated by a Moroccan-constructed berm, which encloses most of the territory.

On November 6, 1975 the so-called Green March into Western Sahara began when 300,000 unarmed Moroccans converged on the southern city of Tarfaya and waited for a signal from King Hassan II of Morocco to cross into Western Sahara. As a result, Spain abandoned Western Sahara on November 14, 1975, repatriating even the Spanish corpses from its cemeteries. Morocco later virtually annexed the northern two-thirds of Western Sahara (formerly Spanish Sahara) in 1976, and the rest of the territory in 1979, following Mauritania's withdrawal.

On February 27, 1976, the Polisario Front formally proclaimed the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), and set up a government in exile.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Vucedol Culture

Vucedol Culture - Vucedol culture flourished between 3000 and 2200 BC in what is now modern Croatia. Their copper metallurgy was based on a new process of mass casting. This culture had a great influence on other contemporary cultures in the European heritage.

This web site claims they invented the first European calendar and presented it in their ceramics. I am not sure about this but clearly the Vucedol culture was advanced for the time it existed.

There is more on Vucedol Culture at Wikipedia. An interesting claim there is that, "There are serious hypothesis that Vucedol culture, which lasted about 800 years, being strong and spreading very wide in all directions from Danube basin, from Czech Republic to Transylvania, and from Ljubljana to a Adriatic seashore, the Kotor Bay, could be the originating culture of earliest Troy."

From the site:

Vucedol Culture was the first farming culture to exist in Europe; its center was in Croatia, but it expanded into the broader region of Central and South-Eastern Europe.

It flourished in the period between 3000 and 2200 BC, around the time of Sumer and the Old Kingdom in Egypt. The Vucedols are thought to have spoken the original Indo-European language, and they knew how to make various products out of copper. They also invented the first European calendar, and represented it in their ceramics.

The high standards of Vucedol culture were first achieved through an economy related to stock-raising, and in later phases on mining and copper metallurgy based on a new revolutionary technological process - mass casting.

This predominant culture had a great influence on other contemporary cultures, and it also left behind considerable traces in the European heritage as a whole.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Macario Sakay, Tulisan or Patriot?

Macario Sakay, Tulisan or Patriot? - This is a biography of a notable person who fought against Americans early in the 20th Century. The Philippine-American War (1899-1902) followed directly after the Spanish-American War. Many Filipinos did not wish to replace Spain with a new colonial power as they wanted independence instead.

The war officially ended when Emilio Aguinaldo capitulated to the USA. However, long after the last of General Aguinaldo's men surrendered to the Americans, independent armies continued their fight for independence. One of these was led by Macario Sakay.

From the site:

Contrary to popular belief, Philippine resistance to American rule did not end with the capture of Emilio Aguinaldo in 1901. There were numerous resistance forces fighting for Philippine independence until the year 1910. One of these forces was led by Macario Sakay who established the Tagalog Republic.

Born in 1870 in Tondo, Macario Sakay had a working-class background. He started out as an apprentice in a calesa manufacturing shop. He was also a tailor, a barber, and an actor in comedias and moro-moros. His participation in Tagalog dramas exposed him to the world of love, courage, and discipline.

In 1894, Sakay joined the Dapitan, Manila branch of the Katipunan. Due to his exemplary work, he became head of the branch. His nightly activities as an actor in comedias camouflaged his involvement with the Katipunan. Sakay assisted in the operation of the Katipunan press. During the early days of the Katipunan, Sakay worked with Andres Bonifacio and Emilio Jacinto. He fought side by side with Bonifacio in the hills of Morong (now Rizal) Province.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Teaching with Historic Places

Teaching with Historic Places. This is an excellent ERIC Digest by Kathleen Hunter from 1994. It deals with teaching K-12 students about history using the local community as a classroom.

Eleven years later, this program stills seems to be in place at the National Parks Service. I am glad to see that. History is boring to most students. Why not make it relevant by connecting the past to the place where students live?

I was bored by history as a student. I vividly remember when I first got interested in the past. My elementary school class went on a trip to see Fort Meigs in Perrysburg, Ohio. I was impressed by both the fort and the old fashioned guns they showed off! And it made me realize that I lived in a historic place that was not that far removed from the frontier days.

From the site:

Our communities are classrooms waiting to be explored; they offer places that are continually shaped and reshaped by our historical experiences and cultural expressions. Some of these places document dramatic events, heroic deeds, creative and technical inventiveness, and the lives of extraordinary men and women. Others reflect the everyday events and patterns of ordinary people over time. Both types of places--the extraordinary and the ordinary--become a part of our local, state, and national heritage.

These kinds of historic places are focal points of a new curriculum project for schools sponsored by the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places and The National Trust for Historic Preservation. These agencies have formed a partnership to offer a program of educational materials and professional training and development for teachers, museum educators, and site interpreters. This ERIC Digest discusses the TEACHING WITH HISTORIC PLACES program, its products, and how they can be used in classrooms and communities by students, teachers, and other interested groups.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

History of Tuvalu

History of Tuvalu. This is a brief history of an Oceania island nation that you might not have heard much about before. Although not the most eventful of places, there is some history here including the forced abduction of some natives to labor in Peru and the use of the island as a base in World War Two.

You might see domain names with the extension of .tv. This is the top level domain name assigned to this island. Mind you, almost all of the uses of the extension are by non-residents.

Wikedpia notes that, "Tuvalu is an island nation located in the Pacific Ocean midway between Hawaii and Australia. Its name means 'Eight Standing Together' in Tuvaluan. With the exception of tiny Vatican City, it is the independent nation with the fewest inhabitants. Due to their low elevation (5 meters, or 14 feet maximum), the islands that make up this nation are threatened by any future sea level rise. The population may evacuate during the next decades to New Zealand, or Niue, a small Pacific island (independent but associated with New Zealand) that isn't threatened by sea level rise, but does have decreasing population."

I am not sure about the rising sea level claims as that is probably tied to the global warming debate. Climate and weather are tough to predict long term and it is yet to be seen if global warming is actually going to happen. If it does, and sea levels rise, this small island nation is doomed.

From the site:

The Spanish were the first Europeans to see the islands in the 1500s. However, in 1819 an American ship captain, De Peyster, named the main island in the group Ellice's Island after a British politician who owned the cargo aboard his ship. In 1841, the U.S. Exploring Expedition commanded by Charles Wilkes visited three of Tuvalu's islands and welcomed visitors to his ships. Other early interactions with the outside world were far less benign--in 1863, hundreds of people from the southern islands were kidnapped when they were lured them aboard slave ships with promises that they would be taught about Christianity. Those islanders were forced to work under horrific conditions in the guano mines of Peru.

Eventually, the islands came under Britain's sphere of influence as the Pacific was divided up in the late 19th century. The Ellice Islands were administered by Britain as part of a protectorate (1892-1916) and as part of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony (1916-74).

During World War II, several thousand American troops were in the islands. Beginning in October 1942, U.S. forces built airbases on the islands of Funafuti, Nanumea, and Nukufetau. Friendly cooperation was the hallmark of relations between the local people and the troops, mainly U.S. Marines and U.S. Navy SeaBees. The airstrip in the capital of Funafuti, originally built by the U.S. during the war, is still in use, as is the "American Passage" that was blasted through Nanumea's reef by SeaBees assisted by local divers.

Monday, July 11, 2005


Bailup - Site devoted to Ned Kelly, the famous Australian outlaw and historic figure, with an aim to debunking popular myths and legends. Includes news and related links.

The site notes that, "Ned Kelly, leader of the infamous 'Kelly gang' of armoured bushrangers, was found guilty of murdering a policeman and executed in November 1880. He is now an Australian legend. Why?" That is a good question. And the site makes a nice stab at answering it by examing oral and written accounts dealing with Kelly's exploits.

I found the design of the site a little confusing. I kept going in circles trying to find some of the more meaty content. The site map at is useful for getting to the more interesting articles.

From the site:

This site is aimed to clear up the numerous misconceptions about the 'Kelly Story', without necessarily seeking to establish a particular point of view. For the history student a History in Detail section offers close investigation into areas of disputed history and attempts to dintinguish the fact from the folktale.For those looking for a short history of the Kelly gang a Quick History section is also provided, which includes a time line, historical overview, and some personal details of the gang members, Ned and Dan Kelly, Joe Byrne & Steve Hart.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

William I, The Conqueror

William I, The Conqueror - Biographical article and links to related information, including the Battle of Hastings, and the ten laws established by William after the Norman conquest.

Many historians consider the Battle of Hastings in 1066 to have been the most significant event in Western history. Others will place it in the top ten. As such, William the Conqueror has to be considered one of most important people in world history.

If King Harold had not had to defeat a Norse invasion at the Battle of Stamford Bridge on September 25, 1066, would he have been stronger and more able to have beaten William? We will never know but the alternate histories that can be spinned off of that one possibility alone...

From the site:

William, the illegitimate son of the Duke of Normandy, spent his first six years with his mother in Falaise and received the duchy of Normandy upon his father's death in 1035. A council consisting of noblemen and William's appointed guardians ruled Normandy but ducal authority waned under the Normans' violent nature and the province was wracked with assassination and revolt for twelve years. In 1047, William reasserted himself in the eastern Norman regions and, with the aid of France's King Henry I, crushed the rebelling barons. He spent the next several years consolidating his strength on the continent through marriage, diplomacy, war and savage intimidation. By 1066, Normandy was in a position of virtual independence from William's feudal lord, Henry I of France and the disputed succession in England offered William an opportunity for invasion.