Check out this article about a new American Indian Movement Center slated to open in Minneapolis. The American Indian Movement was founded in the city in 1968, and is featured in The 1968 Exhibit, on view at the Minnesota History Center until February 20, 2012.
And-- breaking news: This week, we've made a new addition to the exhibit: this vest, on loan from Indian activist Kathryn "Jody" Beaulieu, an enrolled member of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians. It was, she says, "designed by a friend from Alaska, painted by a Dakota, and worn by an Anishinabe equay [Ojibwe woman]," and so she calls it her "United Nations" vest. Beaulieu wore it during the Indian occupation of Alcatraz Island in 1969; again a year later at another occupation near Davis, California; at Pitt River in northern California when Pitt River Indians were in a standoff with the local electric company; and at the Wounded Knee occupation in 1973.
Also, go to The 1968 Exhibit website and watch "Taking AIM"-- the award-winning short film by Lucas Langworthy.
Can't get enough of 1968? The Minnesota Historical Society has created a new online virtual tour, the 1968 Tour of the Twin Cities, which highlights some of the most interesting and important places locally in the Twin Cities in the year 1968.
Dorm room at St. Cloud State, 1968
1968 was a pivotal year nationally, particularly in terms of the Vietnam War and the arts, and Minnesota was no exception.
Some highlights of the year that you can find as part of the tour:
-Local record store Electric Fetus first opened its doors in 1968.
-Aretha Franklin, Jimi Hendrix and The Door performed at the Minneapolis Auditorium.
-Students and staff from the University of Minnesota held a week-long sit-in at the mayor's office at St. Paul City Hall to protest the police department's possession of AR15 rifles.
-Hundreds of protestors demonstrated at the Old Federal Building to protest the draft and the Vietnam War, and the Twin Cities Draft Information Center worked to provide men with alternatives to the draft.
To check out the full tour, visit: http://www.placeography.org/index.php/1968_Tour_of_the_Twin_Cities
"The Nightmare that keeps on giving"
On tonight's (Friday, 12/30) Turner Classic Movies lineup (1:30 am Central Time-- so it's actually on 12/31 at 1:30 am) is one of the GREAT movies from 1968: George Romero's Night of the Living Dead. The progenitor of an entire film library of zombie flicks (not to mention such great, if derivative, TV shows as The Walking Dead), NOTLD is one of the six films from 1968 chosen for the prestigious National Film Registry of the Library of Congress-- awarded to films of "cultural, historic, or esthetic significance." (The others: Bullitt, The Producers, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Planet of the Apes, and Once Upon a Time in the West.)
This blog has been to Living Dead land (i.e., Pittsburgh) before, of course-- but it's never a bad idea to pay another visit. And you can see a clip from the movie in the 1968 Exhibit at the Minnesota History Center.
To quote from the TCM website:
"It's hard to convey just how appalled some people were when Night of the Living Dead started popping up on movie screens back in 1968.... Drive-ins and second-tier theaters were used to showing tacky movies, of course, many of which contained horrific creatures. But despite its obvious low budget, there's something very convincing about George Romero's nightmare vision of a small hamlet that's been overrun by flesh-eating zombies.
"Night of the Living Dead is one of the first horror films that refused to turn away from its own gruesomeness, and the terror it reveals can't be arrived at logically. The characters seem fated to simply live in a hell that they can't comprehend, until it breaks into their makeshift fortress and eats them alive. It's rather hard to believe, then, that this ultra-bleak vision was created by a gang of Pittsburgh-based filmmakers who normally churned out industrial films, sports coverage and local TV commercials....
Night of the Living Dead remains unnerving because its black-and-white verite images look like they were recorded by accident. ... Much of Night of the Living Dead is hilarious. Let's face it, these zombies can be scared away by a burning La-Z-Boy recliner. But it can still give you a serious case of the creeps if you let it. Against all odds, a bunch of guys out in Pittsburgh, who apparently didn't know what they were doing, filmed your worst nightmare. And, as new generations of horror fans discover Night of the Living Dead, it's the nightmare that keeps on giving."
You can actually watch the whole movie online, for free, in High Definition-- but it might look a little better on your TV.
THE PUEBLO INCIDENT COMES TO AN END, 1968
Since North Korea has been much in the news this past week, it would be timely to revisit the worst single incident in the long-standing-- and continuing-- Cold War standoff between North Korea and the United States: the infamous capture of the USS Pueblo and its crew by North Korean forces in January 1968. (The "Great Leader" of North Korea -- aka the DPRK-- in those days was Kim il-Sung, the grandpappy of today's heir apparent, the Michael Jordan superfan, Kim Jung-un.)
The Pueblo, officially known as AGER-2, was built during World War II, but by 1966 had been re-purposed as a Navy intelligence-gathering vessel, with a crew of 83. On January 23, 1968, it was doing exactly what it was supposed to be doing-- gathering intelligence on North Korea from off-shore, in what it claimed to be outside of that Communist-led country's territorial waters. The DPRK forces thought otherwise, and chased down the US ship, issuing demands for surrender and firing its weapons. During one salvo, one US serviceman was killed. After frantically attempting to destroy classified documents and intelligence-gathering equipment, the Pueblo's crew surrendered, the ship was boarded by DPRK forces, and the ship was led into a North Korean port.
The 82 men of the Pueblo, including their commander, Lloyd M. Bucher, were imprisoned and tortured for almost the entire year of 1968. After finally submitting a forced apology and confession, the crew was released on December 23, 1968-- exactly 43 years ago. The crew was returned, one by one, walking over the "Bridge of No Return" on the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea.
The USS Pueblo--still a commissioned ship in the US Navy-- remains in the possession of North Korea, and is, in fact, a popular museum and tourist attraction in Pyongyang--pictured above. You can read much more about the incident here. BETTER STILL: Watch this segment of a terrific documentary made by North Koreans about the incident:
Vaclav Havel, the writer and intellectual who became the president of a post-Communist Czechoslovakia in 1989, has died at age 75. You can read his obituary here.
Havel made his first trip to the United States in May 1968. (This photo shows Havel in 1968, when he was 31 years old.) He had already begun to distinguish himself as a dissident with the publication of an article, "On the Theme of an Opposition,‚Äù which advocated the end of single-party rule, so it was somewhat surprising that the Communist regime let him out of the country. But he was allowed to visit New York on an invitation by Joe Papp--producer of the New York Shakespeare Festival--to see the theater's production of Havel's second play, The Memorandum.
It was the last time Havel was allowed out of the country under Communist rule.
During the "Prague Spring," the brief period when reform Communists, led by Alexander Dubcek, believed that ‚Äúsocialism with a human face‚Äù was possible, Havel argued--correctly, as it turned out--that Communism could never be tamed.
The reforms were brutally crushed by Soviet and Eastern bloc troops in August 1968.