Monday, February 12, 2018

Today I Learned about Pine Leaf, Woman Chief of the Crow

Posted by Daniexmachina

Hello everyone! Today I learned about a very interesting and badass woman of history! Her name was Pine Leaf, also known as Woman Chief and she was a warrior of the Crow Nation. When Pine Leaf was just a small, ten-year-old child, she was kidnapped by the Crow from her native tribe of the Gros Ventre.

The story of her kidnapping has two possible versions. The first possible idea is that when she was kidnapped she talked her way out of being killed on the spot by claiming to have actually been kidnapped by the Gros Ventre recently and she got away with it by knowing some of their language. The other option is a Crow warrior was actually looking for a replacement for his deceased son.

Whatever the truth is, she was raised to be strong and extremely good at everything. She learned to ride a horse, shot her bow and cleaning and carving a buffalo. She was a warrior who on her very first battle killed two enemies and herded some nearby wild horses because she wanted to.



Pine Leaf was what the Native Americans call a two spirit, meaning she was a different gender from the usuals. Most two spirits wore masculine clothes but Pine Leaf did not. She always dressed like a woman. She promised not to marry until she killed 100 enemies. A man who lived with the Crow people in the 1880s named James Beckwourth claimed to have married this woman for five weeks but these claims are thought to be untrue.

What was true was she married at least four women and did something the Natives called counting coup. This meant they would tease the enemy by doing something like running over the enemy unarmed and knocking the person over. She lead the tribe as the War Chief for twenty years.

In 1851 the Treaty of Fort Laramie brought new jobs for the former war chief. She helped in negotiations between the tribes of Upper Missouri and brought peace between her native tribe of Gros Ventre and her current tribe of the Crow. Unfortunately, after many years of peace, Pine Leaf was ambushed by the Gros Ventre and murdered.

Sources:

Radeska, Tijana Pine Leaf was a Woman Chief and warrior of the Crow people 2016 9-20

Smallwood, Karl Pine Leaf, The Badass Female Native American Chief 2016 5-11

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Today I Learned about Irena Sandler

Posted by Daniexmachina

Hello everyone! Today I learned about a very amazing lady who made a huge difference during World War II and hadn't even been heard of until about 18 years ago! Her name is Irena Sendler, born Irena Krzyanowski in February of 1910 to her doctor father and his wife. Her father passed away due to typhus after treating some patients no other doctor would treat because they were afraid of catching the disease. Many of those patients were Jewish and as a thank you for her father's service, the Jewish community got together and paid for Irena to go to college.

When at school, Irena saw they had a ghetto bench system in place, which I had to look up to find the meaning. Apparently, before World War II, Jewish students were forced to sit in a segragated section of the lecture hall on the left or face expulsion. Irena was agianst this so she defaced her grade card and was subsequently suspended from her university for three years.

Irena moved to Warsaw before the start of World War II and she started working for Social Welfare departments at the municipal level. Shortly after the German invasion she began to aid the poor and destitute Jews. She was unable to continue her work when the Germans forced the Jews into a ghetto. But she found a way to get past this.

With the help of her coworkers, they created 3,000 fake documents in order to continue to help the Jews. The group knew that if they were caught assisting the Jews, they would be put to death, but they believed so strongly in justice and freedom that they put their lives as secondary to the people they would help.

There was an underground organization called the Council to Aid Jews and they made Irena, code name Jolanta, as the leader of the children's section. Since Irena was a social worker she was able to get access to the ghetto in order to check up on any disease that might be there. Under this guise, she and her coworkers smuggled out many Jewish children.

They had many ways to get the children out. “She and her friends smuggled the children out in boxes, suitcases, sacks and coffins, sedating babies to quiet their cries. Some were spirited away through a network of basements and secret passages. Operations were timed to the second. One of Sendler’s children told of waiting by a gate in darkness as a German soldier patrolled nearby. When the soldier passed, the boy counted to 30, then made a mad dash to the middle of the street, where a manhole cover opened and he was taken down into the sewers and eventually to safety.”

Irena was arrested in 1943 but before she was caught she managed to put the names of all the children she saved into glass jars in her friend's garden. And she also secreted away money to help the The Germans tortured her, questioning her for the names of her fellows, she never gave in. She and the other women would make holes in the German's underwear while on prison laundry duty. The Germans found out and shot every other woman. She lived. She was still sentenced to death but her people bribed a German officer to let her go and so there were signs everywhere that she was to be shot. She lived again.

In spite of the threats of her death, she didn't stop her important work. She was thought to be exectuted so she tried not to be seen. Even before the Zegota movement started, Irena had been helping Jewish families and they estimate she saved about 3,00 Polish Jews.

When the war finally ended, Irena dug up the jars. She had hoped to reunite families after all this time but unforutunately, many of the family members had been gassed. So the children she saved went to be adopted either by Polish families or they went to Israel.

Though she had been recoginized by the Polish people, the rest of the world knew nothing about her. Until in 1999 when some students from Kansas were given a newspaper clipping by their teacher about Irena and only one website had any mention of Irena. The children went on to learn all about her, even traveling to Poland and writing her when they learned she was still alive in 2000. The children put on a presentation called Life in a Jar which shares the life story of Irena.

I'm glad that I was able to learn about her and the amazing work she did. Thanks to some kids in Kansas, there are tons of websites that talk about Irena and give her the fame she deserves. She passed away in 2008.

Sources:
Life in a Jar: The Irena Sendler Project
Wikipedia : Irene Sendler
Vashem, Yad “Women of Valor” Stories of Women Who Rescued Jews During the Holocaust – Irena Sandler 2018
Snopes Irena Sandler, supposedly a candidate for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, is credited by saving 2,500 Polish Jews from the Holocaust