Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape

Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape

Language: English

Pages: 240

ISBN: 1619028255

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Sand and stone are Earth’s fragmented memory. Each of us, too, is a landscape inscribed by memory and loss. One life-defining lesson Lauret Savoy learned as a young girl was this: the American land did not hate. As an educator and Earth historian, she has tracked the continent’s past from the relics of deep time; but the paths of ancestors toward her—paths of free and enslaved Africans, colonists from Europe, and peoples indigenous to this land—lie largely eroded and lost.

In this provocative and powerful mosaic of personal journeys and historical inquiry across a continent and time, Savoy explores how the country’s still unfolding history, and ideas of “race,” have marked her and the land. From twisted terrain within the San Andreas Fault zone to a South Carolina plantation, from national parks to burial grounds, from “Indian Territory” and the U.S.-Mexico Border to the U.S. capital, Trace grapples with a searing national history to reveal the often unvoiced presence of the past.

In distinctive and illuminating prose that is attentive to the rhythms of language and landscapes, she weaves together human stories of migration, silence, and displacement, as epic as the continent they survey, with uplifted mountains, braided streams, and eroded canyons. Gifted with this manifold vision, and graced by a scientific and lyrical diligence, she delves through fragmented histories -- natural, personal, cultural -- to find shadowy outlines of other stories of place in America.

"Every landscape is an accumulation," reads one epigraph. "Life must be lived amidst that which was made before." Courageously and masterfully, Lauret Savoy does so in this beautiful book: she lives there, making sense of this land and its troubled past, reconciling what it means to inhabit terrains of memory—and to be one.















critics believed this war was, in the words of historian John Schroeder, “unnecessary, impolitic, illegal, and immoral.” Indeed, even the outbreak of hostilities lay shrouded behind extremely suspicious circumstances. Yet by its end in 1848 Mexico had lost nearly half its claimed territory to the United States. With a “purchase” of more land from Mexico five years later, the United States assumed continental dimensions that would become the “lower forty-eight.” This conflict would also serve as

would begin offshore, in the Gulf of Mexico, from the mouth of the deepest channel of the Rio Grande (or Río Bravo del Norte) and follow the river upstream. Separating “with due precision” the interior tracts of northern Sonora and Chihuahua from the ceded land lying between the two rivers would prove more difficult. The treaty had delimited the southern boundary of the new American province as that “laid down” on the 1847 map by John Disturnell, Mapa de los Estados Unidos de Méjico. But

domestic servants, waiters and cooks, carpenters, bricklayers, oystermen, blacksmiths, washerwomen, hackmen and carters, livery-stable hands, shoemakers and tailors, messengers, general laborers. This list goes on. Though the city council continued tinkering with the codes, nearly one-third of the District’s inhabitants were people of color by the mid-1840s. Most of them, more than thirteen thousand, were free. Months before the opening volleys at Fort Sumter, the 1860 census would count 5

the New Deal, men and women buried at Woodlawn broke barriers meant to keep them “in their place.” Here lie members of Congress, physicians, educators, artists, civic leaders, lawyers, and business-people of note. Lyric soprano Lillian Evanti was the first African American to sing with a major European opera company. To preserve a burial ground is an act of remembrance. Neglect may reflect many things: commitment but lack of means; amnesia or apathy; perhaps forces more complex and sinister.

143 49th parallel, 49, 129 92nd Infantry Division, 144, 146 93rd Infantry Division, 144, 145, 146, 209 A Aaron, Daniel, 58, 197 abolitionists, 126, 164, 172, 176 Adams, John, 165 African Americans, 22–28, 39, 84, 91–92, 97, 99–105, 109, 112, 121, 137, 142–159, 162–163, 165, 168–169, 172–180, 201–205, 208–213 Alabama, 21, 27, 29, 77, 85, 113, 164 Alberta, Canada, 183–184 Algic Researches, Comprising Inquiries Respecting the Mental Characteristics of the North American Indians, First

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