History in Siouxland, Communication Breakdown and the Inkpaduta Tragedy, Rural Woodbury County

21 Jan

A stopping place for Inkpaduta before he and his Indian band in rural Woodbury County, Iowa before he and his group later moved north to an area near the Iowa Lakes where the group killed white settlers and kidnapped young girls, seen Saturday, August 6, 2016. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s probably been long stated that communication is key in any context. Even in today’s vitriolic political stalemate. People just don’t listen to one another and take offense at what is said. So history repeats itself. And a bit of history in Siouxland informs a person that communication between native Americans and the early settlers did not always garner the clarity that would have prevented violence and misunderstanding.

A plaque commemorating a stopping place for Inkpaduta before he and his Indian band in rural Woodbury County, Iowa before he and his group later moved north to an area near the Iowa Lakes where the group killed white settlers and kidnapped young girls, seen Saturday, August 6, 2016. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

In 1857 a band of renegade Sioux Indians were wandering what is now the rural Woodbury and Monona Counties and places north. Settlers were pushing the Native Americans off their former land to live their own version of paradise and renewal, starting life in a new place. Inkpaduta was a tribal chief of this small band of Sioux and his name became infamous in what was to become northwest Iowa when later in the same year he and his band killed settlers and kidnapped young girls from the Spirit Lake area. It’s hard to imagine even what the area looked like in the late 1850’s compared to now, with farming of the area continuous since that time period, and probably even more expanded as technology allowed farmers to cover more ground with tractors and other mobile equipment.

Terraced corn crop in rural Woodbury County, Iowa Saturday, August 6, 2016. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Horses grazing in a field in rural Woodbury County, Iowa Saturday, August 6, 2016. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And whatever few trails carried travelers through the area probably still exist as one or many of the current roadways that traverse the area. What was probably idyllic looking then is probably the same as now, only with fields rather than prairie grass. Over so many decades one would hope people would learn that it is better to communicate and find a way forward than repeating past mistakes than generally never end well.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A gravel road running through a part of rural Woodbury County, Iowa Saturday, August 6, 2016. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

An area in rural Woodbury County, Iowa near an Inkpaduta plaque marking a place where he and his tribe camped prior to heading north to the Iowa Lakes they later killed white settlers, seen Saturday, August 6, 2016. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

 

Enjoying a Short Day in Siouxland, Solstice at the Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center

19 Jan

A solstice hike is led and explained by naturalist Dawn Snyder, Education Program Director at the Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Hikers head out for an hours walk led by naturalist Dawn Snyder, Education Program Director at the Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center, Thursday during a solstice hike , Dec. 20, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

In December I went for a short walk on a short day in Siouxland to learn a bit about the solstice at the Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center. Dawn Snyder, Education Program Director for the nature center led a a small group during a late afternoon hike up to a hillside and overlook and talked about the shortest day of the year and reminding people that longer days of sunlight are coming hopefully with more sunshine to counter the current cold spell.

Even on cold days, the sunshine is still sweet to help one overcome any feelings of gloom that sometimes happens when days are filled with overcast skies and snowfall. And it’s always nice to get out and enjoy nature with others of similar mind. And to learn a bit more about area parks. The group stopped under an oak tree that Snyder pointed out was probably 200 years old or so according to its branch structure, having grown in such a fashion  because they were fewer trees at the time allowing it to “spread its wings” so to speak, compared to other nearby trees that were growing more vertically. This would have been a period during pre-Iowa statehood when the area was probably mostly prairie.

During an hour hike naturalist Dawn Snyder, left, Education Program Director at the Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center talks about nature and some of the park’s older inhabitants like the oak tree speculated to be about 200 years old during a solstice hike Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A few hikers spent an hour learning from naturalist Dawn Snyder, Education Program Director at the Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center during a solstice hike Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

On extremely cold days I don’t venture out as much as I used to when I was younger. Enjoying my creature comforts too much as I age and liking to spend my time during the daylight hours and pondering such thoughts as I have on those long winter nights.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A few hikers make their way down a hill spending an hour learning from naturalist Dawn Snyder, Education Program Director at the Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center during a solstice hike Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A few hikers spent an hour learning from naturalist Dawn Snyder, Education Program Director at the Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center during a solstice hike Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Children get into the spirit of a solstice hike is led and explained by naturalist Dawn Snyder, Education Program Director at the Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A solstice hike is led and explained by naturalist Dawn Snyder, Education Program Director at the Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Seeing Beyond the Trees in Siouxland, Le Mars Bike Trail

17 Jan

Fall colors on the bike trail in Le Mars, Iowa, Tuesday Oct. 17, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes after visiting a place in Siouxland, even a place I have been too a few times, I don’t always see things until later, when I review images. Seeing the forest for the trees is an old saying. I don’t remember who coined the phrase or when. But this particular bike trail in Le Mars I have walked and ridden on a number of times. I enjoy it in all seasons. It mostly runs along a creek and is on the edge of town. It borders along corn fields and you are “in the country” even if you are near the town. But looking at the trees and the brightly lit leaves I begin to see leaf motifs in the trees. The branches and leaves mimic the the veins in the leaves themselves. Walking this trail I have looked at these trees and the area numerous times. And it begins me thinking how many interesting items are sometimes in plain sight, if only we take the time to actually see and wonder and ponder what is right before us.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Fall colors radiate a sun shiny day along the bike trail in Le Mars, Iowa, Tuesday Oct. 17, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Branches on a tree appears almost like veins with colorful leaves along the bike trail in Le Mars, Iowa, Tuesday Oct. 17, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Light and Shade in Siouxland, South Dakota and Nebraska

15 Jan

Shadows and lines in the Haymarket in Lincoln, NE Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Driving about Siouxland and parts near and farther, it’s not always the destination that I look to photograph or even the journey. Sometimes I am motivated simply because of the light, or lack thereof that draws my attention. Light and shade, it’s what makes images. Most times it’s the lighting of a subject or place or landscape a person is trying to share. But for me, it’s the interplay between the two and what transpires and the result.

Shadows and lines in the Haymarket in Lincoln, NE Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes it is not always as “clean” an image as I would like, but I still like the interplay that I see before me and try to capture and show what I saw at that moment in time.

Of course it helps to have objects that allow the interplay of light and shade to happen all around them, more easily done in urban settings, but sometimes it’s found more in nature, well, maybe where man had a hand in “shaping” nature.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Shadows and lines in the Haymarket in Lincoln, NE Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Light play through windows onto the floor of a former court room in the Old Courthouse Museum in Sioux Falls, SD Monday, Oct. 22 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Lights and shadows in a bird blind at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday Nov. 24, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Enjoying the Outdoors in Siouxland, DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge

13 Jan

I’m not a very often wildlife kind of photographer. On occasion I will photograph birds when I come upon them and am happy when I get a fairly decent image like one near Winnebago, NE not too long ago.

A raptor takes off from a tree near a snow covered field where bison grazing outside of Winnebago, NE Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©) (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

I recently visited the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge that straddles both Iowa and Nebraska and has communal link which is the Missouri River. My visit happened before the recent nonsense brought on by Washington politicians who always seem to be out of touch with folk in the real world and never seem to care about those affected. They still get paid.

I was testing out a newly acquired lens (to me) to see if I wanted to actually purchase an older manual focus Canon telephoto lens. And I was pleased with the results, and glad the geese I photographed were not moving too quickly.

Geese on open water at the DeSoto Wildlife Refuge near Missouri Valley, Iowa Friday, Dec. 21, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Geese on frozen water at the DeSoto Wildlife Refuge near Missouri Valley, Iowa Friday, Dec. 21, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The refuge is a nice place to visit and hang out, even if one is not photographing migratory birds, but just wanting to enjoy the quiet and what the refuge has to offer which I learned about from a previous visit. And some of the history that is associated with the area during the expansion west.

But I wanted to see if the lens still retained its sharpness even on an overcast day with created its own mood with the birds and even though it was chilly or rather cold, still a nice way to spend a day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Geese on open water at the DeSoto Wildlife Refuge near Missouri Valley, Iowa Friday, Dec. 21, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Geese on frozen water at the DeSoto Wildlife Refuge near Missouri Valley, Iowa Friday, Dec. 21, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Geese walking on frozen water at the DeSoto Wildlife Refuge near Missouri Valley, Iowa Friday, Dec. 21, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying Art in Siouxland, Buena Vista University

11 Jan

Student artwork on display in the Social Sciences and Art Hall at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 30 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Whenever I am in a college town traveling about Siouxland, and there are a few, I always like to stop into that institution’s art department building and see what students are creating. It’s always a joy. Whether photography, sculpture, or painting. It’s nice to see a person’s take on life. And during a visit to the campus of Buena Vista University in Storm Lake I was also struck by where the art was seen. I assumed it was time to change the pieces on display and so some waited on the floor until they are hung. That to me created another dynamic in art. It’s display. I found it just as interesting even though I assumed this would not be for the duration. It still gave me pause and got me to think about presentation. And certainly got my attention.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Understanding Nature in Siouxland, Buena Vista University, Storm Lake

9 Jan

Many times I have visited the community of Storm Lake where Buena Vista University is located. It’s a nice looking campus, situated near a lake and a city park and contains many interesting elements in and of itself. One place on campus I have not checked out what a science center.

Natural science items on display in the Estelle Siebens Science Center at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 30 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

An Alaskan brown bear on display in the Estelle Siebens Science Center at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 30 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 30 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Students learn science by doing according to online information. I was surprised by the number of stuffed animals on display, as well as a few skeletal remains exhibited too. Walking by classrooms and viewing the taxidermy students seemed very engaged in their learning process. And seeing items posted in a hallway it seems students get a chance to put their theory into practice. Posted photos showed students in the field learning and performing field tasks.

The skeletal remains of a white rhinoceros on display in the Estelle Siebens Science Center at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 30 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 30 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A variety of animal busts on display in the Estelle Siebens Science Center at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 30 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 30 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I personally love education. There is all sorts to be had, not all of which requires an extended amount of time studying in institutions of higher learning. But my own college education was something I still draw from to this day. The experiences, people, both student and instructor and for the first time using my noodle to decipher and understand a much larger world around me than I could even imagine growing up at home. While I might not have directly used my higher education in pursuit of my career, its foundation and learning the ability to critically think and understand and improve my comprehension of various matters have helped me immensely as I have traveled through life. And I also find that even though my collegiate years are decades behind me, I am still learning and striving to critically assess and understand life events that unfold around me and help inform me to better understand the world I am living in.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The skeletal remains of an African elephant on display in the Estelle Siebens Science Center at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 30 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 30 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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