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statue

“Forward” outside Madison State Capitol. Note “Wisconsin” statue on top of the Capitol dome

Earlier, I mentioned the statue “Wisconsin” on top of the dome of the Wisconsin State Capitol on Madison. Another important statue linked to the Capitol is called “Forward”.

The woman on top of the Capitol dome is named “Wisconsin”, although she’s often misidentified as “Miss Forward”. Perhaps that’s because she was placed on the Capitol dome as a symbol of the state’s motto, ‘Forward’ and to represent ‘the spirit of Wisconsin progress’.

The statue at the State Street corner of the Capitol Square is also often misidentified as “Miss Forward”, but “Forward” would be more accurate. However, actually this is a replica of the original “Forward”, which is now in the Wisconsin Historical Society’s HQ. Originally placed at the entrance of the Capitol in 1895, the original was moved to North Hamilton Street in 1916, where it stayed until 1995, when it was moved because of damage by the elements. So, a bronze replica was made and installed at the State Street entrance to the Capitol.

The 7-foot-tall original “Forward” was created by Wisconsin sculptress Jean Pond Miner. She made it for the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, when she fulfilled a plaquecommission to create art representative of her native state. She felt that “Forward” was a symbol of devotion and progress, special qualities of Wisconsin.

Miner was born in Menasha, Wisconsin in 1865 and grew up in Madison. She graduated from Downer College in Fox Lake and continued her studies at the Art Institute of Chicago. She planned to become a portrait painter, but her classes with famous sculptor Lorado Taft convinced her to change her major. In 1893, Taft and the Janesville Ladies Afternoon Club recommended her for an artist-in-residence position at the Columbian Exposition. Hence this lovely statue.

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On the first zig-zag on the road going to the right uphill, the statue is where the white umbrellas are at the roadside cafe

statueOn the edge of Garachico, on a bend in the road going up the hill out of town, we passed a small car park, with a viewpoint, roadside café and an intriguing statue. It’s called “Monument to Canarian Emigrants” and we wondered about its significance. It was erected in August 1990, and the sculptor is Fernando Garciarramos.

Well, it turns out this is a big part of the history of the islands.

One of the important stories about the Canary Islands is the history of migration out of the islands. Because the islands are a crossroads in the Atlantic, they soon developed a very important relation with the newly conquered territories across the Atlantic. Canarians, both of indigenous and European descent, were present on some of plaqueColumbus’ journeys.

The flow of people from the Canaries to the Americas was constant from the late 15th century to the middle of the 20th century. This was due mainly to the small size and poverty of the islands, and the lure of a better life. For example, in the early 1800s more than 18,000 Canary Islanders emigrated to the Americas. Most to Cuba, and fewer to Venezuela and Puerto Rico. There are also Canarian communities in Louisiana, Florida and Texas in the USA.

statue2Many Canarians in the Americans played important roles in the bid for independence from Spain in many of those countries. For example, leaders such as Francisco de Miranda (Venezuelan military leader) and Simón Bolívar were of Canarian ancestry, and the iconic leader of Cuban independence, José Martí, had a Canarian mother.

The last large migration of Canarians towards the Americas took place in the 1950s mainly to Venezuela. Since then, Canarians have started, for the first time, to migrate to Europe. Most settled in Spain, but a few small Canarian communities are in the UK, Germany and Sweden.

A small minority of Canarian emigrants and descendants have also returned to the Islands from the 1960s onwards. As living conditions worsened in Latin America and at the same time improved on the Islands with the boom of tourism, many American-born Canarian descendants applied for Spanish passports so they could return settle back in the land of their ancestors.

A really interesting part of the history of the islands, which is way more complex than we ever realized before coming here.

 

 

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hailsignHonoring the Mohawk Native Americans

Reaching out with Hope

When we attended a family wedding in the Berkshires this October, one of the things I was determined to do was visit the “Hail to the Sunrise” Statue on the Mohawk Trail. Luckily we were staying nearby, so it was quite possible. And we were not disappointed.

The Mohawk Trail is a 63-mile winding road stretching east from the Massachusetts/New York line, close to Williamstown, to Millers Falls on the Connecticut River, just beyond Greenfield in Massachusetts. It runs through part of the well-known Berkshires, and is especially beautiful to drive in fall when the fall colors are truly glorious.

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You can just see the Chief directly behind the circular pool

chiefRodThe Mohawk Trail began as a trade route for the Native Americans of the Five Nations and connected Atlantic tribes with tribes in Upstate New York, hundreds of years before European settlers arrived. They used it to pass between the Connecticut and Hudson Valleys. It followed the Millers River, Deerfield River and crossed the Hoosac Range in the area that is now northwest Massachusetts.

Hail to the Sunrise” is a lovely monument just outside the town of Charlemont, Mass, about halfway along the Trail. The Monument consists of a prominent statue of a Mohawk Indian and a reflecting pool, and is the main feature of Mohawk Park, a roadside park on the Mohawk Trail. It was sponsored by The Improved Order of Redman, and Degree of Pocahontas.

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The monument honors the peoples of the five Mohawk Nations that inhabited western Massachusetts and New York State. The Mohawks who traveled this trail were said to be friendly to while settlers. Today the monument is a reminder of the area’s Native American heritage.

The bronze statue depicts a Native American man in traditional garb

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Note the arrowhead-shaped inscription stone

looking eastward across the Deerfield River with his arms uplifted in supplication. He faces the direction of the rising sun and is greeting the Great Spirit. The bronze statue, created by sculptor Joseph Pollia (1893-1954), rests on a 9-ton boulder. It was unveiled in October 1932, attended by more than 2000 people. The arrowhead-shaped tablet on the base of the statue reads: “Hail to the Sunrise—In Memory of the Mohawk Indian. The Mohawks of the Five Nations began to settle in New York State in 1590 and for 90 great suns they fought the New England tribes. The New York Mohawks that traveled this trail were friendly to the white settlers.”

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One of the inscription stones

The pool is lined with 100 inscribed stones from various tribes and councils from throughout the US. The grounds are open to the public and the park is a welcome stop along the scenic highway. It’s a great place to stop and contemplate Native American culture and history and how these peoples were so badly treated overall by the white settlers. For me, the man’s pose gives cause for hope, like he’s reaching out for a better future.

Charlemont is an old town, first settled in 1749. Every summer, the Mohawk Trail Concerts take place in the old, acoustically-perfect Charlemont Federated Church. They have been held here since 1970, founded by Arnold Black, a violinist.

 

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Approach to Wawel Castle Hill

Approach to Wawel Castle Hill

In the cave system (the Dragon's Den)

In the cave system (the Dragon’s Den)

Krakow is arguably one of Poland’s most beautiful cities (maybe even top of the list), with a long and complex history (as have many European cities). I’ll cover more of that in the months to come.

For now, this is part history, part myth, part legend—who knows for sure. Krakow has a dragon story, which is woven into the history of the city. Head for the Dragon’s Den (Smocza Jama), below Wawel, the Castle complex on the hill overlooking the River Vistula. Formed about 25 million years ago, the spectacular limestone formation of Wawel Hill is not the solid piece of rock it appears to be. Rather, it is riddled with caves, cracks, crevices, and crawl spaces, and as you walk through a small section of them you can easily imagine that various creatures have lived/might still live in here.

Sonya D, Rod M, Nathalie M in the caves

Sonya D, Rod M, Nathalie M in the caves

Part of the caves

Part of the caves

Exit the Dragon's Den at river level

Exit the Dragon’s Den at river level

The story goes that these craggy chambers below Wawel were once home to Smok Wawelski, or the Wawel Dragon, a particularly nasty creature that loved to gorge himself on sheep and local maidens. Legend has it that, as the village ran out of local virgins, the King promised the hand of his only daughter to the hero who could vanquish the evil beast. One after the other of many brave knights fell to the dragon’s fiery breath.

Eventually a poor cobbler called Krak tricked Smok into eating a sheep stuffed full of sulphur, which instantly ignited inside the dragon’s throat. This gave the dragon an unquenchable thirst, so he ran and drank half the river, causing his extended belly to explode. Thus, the town was freed of the dragon and Krak married the princess. Krak later became king and built his castle on the dragon’s lair. The people built a city around it, named Krakow after their savior king.

Nice story. At the exit to the Dragon’s Den near the river, these days there is a large sculpture of a dragon that periodically blows out a fiery plume. The dragon is part of Krakow culture now, an unofficial emblem, and we saw a dragon on all kinds of items—-from flags, to T-shirts, to mugs, small statuettes etc. Interesting how a legend can become a city mascot. As we traveled around Eastern Europe we came across other dragon stories, which I’ll try to unearth.

Breathing fire!

Breathing fire!

Dragon statue

Dragon statue

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