A cannibal, snake-haired misogynist: What 2019 America has in common with the founding of the Iroquois League



Posted January 10, 2019

Twitter is going crazy with a 2-minute segment of a 1950s TV series called Trackdown. Thanks to Alex Hirsch and others for Tweeting.

Here’s Hirsch’s introductory Tweet: “What the fresh hell. This is REAL. Filmed in 1958- about a conman who grifts a small town of suckers into building a wall. History not subtle enough for you? GUESS THE GRIFTER’S NAME (And watch until the end)”

Snopes.com did a fact check.

Spoiler alert:  The grifter’s name is Trump.

Spooky.

Here’s another woogie-woogie connection — between the founding of the Iroquois League and the Constitutional crisis that we are now experiencing. To use Hirsch’s phrase, “History not subtle enough for you?” Read on.

BACKGROUND ON THE CREATION OF THE IROQUOIS LEAGUE:
A misogynist snake-haired cannibal shaman

Of interest to Americans during this Constitutional crisis of 2019 is a chapter of Native American history that features a misogynist cannibal shaman who was the last leader to accept the Great Law of Peace — the five-nation agreement that created the Iroquois League.

There are different versions of the story, but most seem to agree that Adodarho (alternatively Atatarho) had a headful of snakes, an indication of confused thinking. Another salient feature of the story and of Adodarho is that he had a seven-foot penis wound about his waist. This was not related to sex (according to one scholar, Barbara Alice Mann) but indicated some “seriously bad medicine” (see quote below, Resource A, p. 277).

Most versions also seem to agree that the climactic moment of the story is when the people of all five nations surround Adodarho to demonstrate how far out of consensus he is. Ultimately, he was rehabilitated (at least partially) by making him the nominal first leader of the men’s Grand Council and by combing the snakes out of his hair.

Here are some quotes from various resources (both indigenous and non-indigenous) and various versions of the story. Let the reader draw her/his own conclusions.

A good question to ask in terms of these similarities and in light of Resource D below (Stephanie Morningstar’s invocation of restorative justice in Adodarho’s case): Is there anyone actively proposing a rehabilitation process for Donald Trump—and/or his colleagues? How would that work?

(For more details on the Great Law of Peace as the template of the U.S. Constitution — and containing some important missing links that the U.S. founders left out, read my recent blog: In Case of Constitutional Crisis…Start Here: The Great Law of Peace. Contains current indigenous American resources.)

 

ADODARHO AND THE GREAT LAW OF PEACE: Quotes and Resources

A. BOOK: Iroquoian Women: The Gantowisas
by Barbara Alice Mann (Bear clan, Seneca), professor of humanities at University of Toledo.
Peter Lang publishers, 2000

The Haudenosaunee (modern name for Iroquois) Second Epoch is calculated to run from 800-1000 C.E. (Great Law of Peace) through 1799-1801 (the era of Handsome Lake).

p. 36
Generally, however, the Second Epoch opens on the Iroquoian world at war. The insane Onondaga chief and shaman, Adodaroh, was terrorizing the people with his foreign-inspired cannibal cult, in a strong-man raiding society with its roots in the fading world of the hunt.

p. 37
Adodaroh, the terrifying shaman who worse live and writhing snakes in his hair and the severed heads of snakes on his fingertips, so that snake eyes looked out wherever he might point.

p. 38
Then, Adodaroh stood alone. In a ploy suggested by the Jigonsaseh, the peace trio confronted Adodaroh in body with all their supporters from all the nations, silently encircling him, thus dramatically demonstrating to him the strength of the peace movement. Instead of threatening Adodaroh, however, they offered him the chairmanship of the new League, should he agree to the peace. He did. The Peacemaker then assigned Ayonwantha the gigantic task of unwrinkling the mind of Adodaroh. Accordingly, Ayonwantha combed all the snakes from the hair of Adodaroh (i,e., he straightened out his twisted thoughts), thus becoming He Who Combs, a spiritual designation indicating a gifted counselor.

At last, the Peacemaker gave the Kaianeraserakowa, or the Great and Binding Law of Peace, outlining the form and operations of the participatory democracy of the League….

p. 130-31
…the Keepings state directly that the final negotiations leading to the Great Peace were guided by the Jigonsaseh. In the end, after she, Ayonwantha, and the Peacemaker had spent a lifetime lobbying for the Corn Cause of Peace, only the fearsome shaman, Adodaroh, remained opposed to the Great Law. The Peacemaker and Ayonwantha had already attempted to cross a lake to approach him on two occasions, but had been rebuffed by his extreme command over natural forces, which had caused the waves to rear up, pushing back their canoes.

At this impasse, the Jigonsaseh called a council to offer her own alternative plan of approach, which featured a carrot as well as a medicine stick. The carrot was to be an offer to Adodaroh that he assume the position of first chairman of the men’s Grand Council of the League. The stick was to show Adodaroh just how far outside of consensus he really stood in opposing a Peace that everyone else supported. The Cayugas also say that the Jigonsaseh gave Ayonwantha and the Peacemaker a powerful medicine song to smooth their approach and put Adodaroh in a more amenable mood.

Accordingly, as the Peacemaker and Ayonwantha approached Adodaroh for the third time, the Peacemaker successfully sang the Jigonsaseh’s Peace Song [Note: I’ve not included the original language here.]

My offspring, I come to greet them again;
The war chiefs, I come to greet them again;
The body of women, I come to greet them again;
My grandparents, it was their work;
my grandparents, do ye continue to listen to them.

(The emphasis in the line, “The body of women, I come to greet them again,” appears in the original.)

The pair also mustered their supporters in body to face off against the insane old shaman. All the counselors of all the nations who had come over to the cause of Peace stood silently surrounding Adodaroh, in a chilling demonstration of their strength and his isolation. The loneliness of his position having been forcefully brought home to him, the Peacemaker spoke the words of the Great Law to Adodaroh, then gave Ayonwantha the task of combing the snakes out of his hair (i.e., untangling his moral and ethical derangement). Chief Gibson stated that, at this point, “our mother, the Great Matron,” the Jigonsaseh, put the antlers of office on his head, officially designating Adodaroh the first chairman of the League. Having capitulated to the cause of Peace, the once-dreaded Adodaroh transmuted into an honored chief, passing his name down through the generations as the Fire Keeper (chairman) of the men’s Grand Council.

p. 207
Cheerful teamwork was the key to survival. Whereas the European model sought to pare human relationships down into their smallest possible units, the Iroquoian model saw society as a circle of joined hands. Consequently, loners—those “rugged individualists” so prized by capitalists—were looked down upon by the Iroquois as mentally unbalanced or mystically misanthropic as was the lone shaman, Adodaroh, before the snakes were combed from his hair. It was not accidental that the climactic moment in the tradition of the Great Law came when Adodaroh was persuaded to re-enter the Iroquoian community as a contributing member.

pp. 277
…to the Iroquoian mind, the oversized penis wound about Adodaroh’s waist like a python was unrelated to sex. Instead, it signaled some seriously bad medicine. Overgrown things in general were always signs of spirit power, either the negative otkon or the positive uki. In the case of Adodaroh, the oversized penis alluded to his otkon ability to kill people, even from afar. Thus, one of the Peacemaker’s uki tasks in giving Adodaroh a new, human mind was to unwind “the many fathoms” of his perilously elongated penis.

p. 301
To a culture that elected (and deposed) its leaders based on the worthiness of their track records, the Christian God came across as an illogical, irresponsible, immature, and destructive personality. Such characters were not held in esteem by the Iroquois, nor did they consider it sane to put dictatorial power into the hands of such a one. In deed, much of the message of the Second Epoch, through the metaphor of the terrible Adodaroh, was that no single entity should ever be allowed to wield unaccountable power. Thus, however comprehensive to people living in patriarchal hierarchies, the notion of a strong-man God who had to be approached through a privileged intermediary—lest, in a fit of indigestion, His poor impulse control led Him to whack the sorry petitioner—was literally inconceivable to the democratic Iroquois.

 

B. SCULPTURE AND ARTIST NOTES: Jud Hartmann Gallery
Blue Hill, Maine and Grafton, Vermont
Bronze sculpture of Atotarho’s snake-covered head by Jud Hartmann with this text:

Atotarho (First Among Equals)
CHIEF OF THE ONONDAGAS

A reknowned warrior and a mighty magician stands with his hair of writhing snakes, grotesquesly conspicuous through the dim light of tradition at this birth of Iroquois nationality. This was Atotarho (aka Tadodaho), chief of the Onondagas; to this day, his name has been passed down through numberless generations to the present bearer of that name and title: Atotarho – first among equals). “With earthly and celestial aid, the league of the Iroquois was consummated and through all the land, the forests trembled at the name of the Iroquois!” — Francis Parkman, c. 1870

It will never be known with certainty when the League of the Iroquois was founded but it is likely that it was established between 1400 – 1550. From oral tradition we learn that the period preceding the league’s formation was an endless cycle of blood feuds which threatened the very survival of the five nations. “At length, says tradition, a celestial being incarnate on earth (Deganawidah and his spokesman Hiawatha), counseled them to compose their strife and unite in a league of defense and aggression. Another personage wholly mortal, yet wonderfully endowed, a reknowned warrior and a mighty magician stands with his hair of writhing snakes, grotesquesly conspicuous through the dim light of tradition at this birth of Iroquois nationality. This was Atotharo (aka Tadodaho), chief of the Onondagas; and from this honored source has sprung a long line of chieftans. (Preeminint among the 50 Sachems – the ‘Confederate Lords’ – who comprised The Grand Council, to this day, his name has been passed down through numberless generations to the present bearer of that name and title: Atotharo – first among equals). “With earthly and celestial aid, the league was consummated and through all the land, the forests trembled at the name of the Iroquois!”

C. PAINTING + ARTIST NOTES:  Steve Simon’s series on The Great Peacemakers
Iroquois Great Law of Peace

Here are the paragraphs on Adodarho, part of a longer retelling of the founding of the Great Law of Peace and the influence that the Iroquois League on the founders of the United States and on the U.S. Constitution.

…there lived an evil chief of the Onondaga Nation. Legend states he possessed supernatural powers and the human flesh he preyed and feasted upon nourished his twisted mind and body. So evil was he that his hair crawled of snakes and birds fell from the sky through the waving of his arms. His body was crooked in seven places. His name was Atotarho, “The Entangled.”
….
The seven crooks include Atotarho’s menacing hair, the unjust deeds done by his hands, the crooked paths traveled by his feet, the dark visions beheld by his eyes, the unkind words uttered through his throat, the twisted interpretations of his hearing, the unclean urges of his sexuality, and the wicked thoughts of his mind.
….
The peace, they told Atotarho, would be crowned by the planting of the Great White Pine, which shall spread in all directions and eventually shelter all mankind. Moved but unconvinced, Atotarho questioned what was in it for him. In a stroke of brilliant diplomacy, Deganawidah and Hiawatha offered Atotarho the opportunity to preside over the Great Council that would represent the League of Five Nations—a power greater than even his current one. The offer was indeed one Atotarho could not refuse.

 

D.  BLOGPOST: “Combing the Snakes….” by Stephanie Morningstar
Herbalist based in Ridgeville, Ontario. Founder of Sky World Apothecary.
About the MeToo movement in the indigenous herbalist community.

October 30, 2018
Mentions the story of Tododaho (Adodarho) in reference to restorative justice:

…If my time working for the Six Nations Justice Program co-creating an Indigenous Dispute Resolution (IDR) framework taught me anything, it taught me how important restorative justice is. The IDR framework centres around the story of Todadaho, the leader of the Onondaga nation and a sorcerer with a “crooked body and snakes for hair” who terrorized his people with violence and cannibalism. Deganawidah, the Peacemaker, worked with a radical woman named Jigonhasee to transform Tododaho’s violence into peace. They began this process with a song that led to healing, straightening his body and “combing the snakes from his hair” (Walker 2009, Stevens 2002.) The story of Todadaho is central to the dispute resolution process, considering the healing of the wrongdoer just as essential as the survivors. Often times this concept falls on deaf ears or even disgust, as it’s difficult to want anything beneficial to happen for those who cause harm. As Haudenosaunee people, we have had to reconnect with our customary practices that never left anyone behind. As herbalists, we were drawn to herbal medicine because of its holism, its ability to address not just symptoms, but root causes that eventually direct the vital force to achieve balance. Restorative justice work is similar- in order to fully heal, to achieve reduced recidivism rates, to stop the cycle of abuse from being perpetuated, we need to hold those who harm accountable to their healing process. This is what harm reduction looks like in action.

 

E. VIDEO:  [History of Iroquois League], presentation by Barbara Alice Mann (Bear clan, Seneca)
2nd World Congress on Matriarchal Studies (Oct. 2005)

Approx. 7 minute mark:  11th century moundbuilders: patriarchal priesthood practicing spiritual terrorism: large military, hoarding, gang-raping led by Adordarho
Approx. 16-25 minute mark: Peacemaker and Jigonsaseh made Adodarho an offer he couldn’t refuse: If you agree to the Great Law of Peace, you can be first lieutenant (chair of men’s council).

 

Disclaimer by Debbie Hillman: I am not Native American Indian although I am native American, having been born in Chicago and I try to be indigenous to my home. If any Native American Indians have any objections to this posting, I am happy to learn.

 

 

Open Letter to Center for Women’s History & Leadership



Questions from an impatient and concerned observer in Evanston, IL
Posted December 20, 2018
Update February 3, 2019:  See response from Executive Director of CWHL

 

To: Center for Women’s History & Leadership
Evanston, IL
Attn:  Glen Madeja, Exec. Director

Dear Mr. Madeja:

I think I speak for many when I say that I have been greatly anticipating the detailed plans for the new Center for Women’s History & Leadership. When the Frances Willard Historical Association (FWHA) announced its name change in August 2017, I was excited about the prospect of having such an organization in my hometown. Seven months after the January 2017 Women’s March amped up women’s engagement, many women including myself were still looking for new or additional outlets for our individual geographies, talents, and interests. “Center for Women’s History & Leadership” sounded like something I might want to get involved in — a real stake in the ground, possibly a national center, practically in my neighborhood.

The original announcement (Aug. 15, 2017) read:
On Sunday, August 13, 2017 members of the Frances Willard Historical Association (FWHA) voted to re-incorporate as a new non-profit organization, The Center for Women’s History and Leadership. Accompanying this name change, later this fall the new Center will also become the owner of the property and historic buildings in the current Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) Evanston Local Historic District. The Center’s mission will be to honor the leadership of women of the past to inform the present and inspire leaders of the future.

Since August 2017, as I’ve received each subsequent FWHA newsletter, I’ve searched for news about the new Center. But in the 16 months since the first announcement, there has been little to chew on or dream about.

U.S. INSTITUTIONS IN FLUX
At the same time, as these last two years have played out on the national political and cultural stages, many of us have been looking at long-time institutions with new eyes and, indeed, thanks to social media and new generations of researchers, new information is daily streaming out on all our institutions and our collective history.

For me, this has been true of FWHA’s parent organization, the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). Yes, I had always known that the Frances Willard Museum and FWHA were owned by the WCTU. But public events never mentioned the connection and, in fact, I assumed that the WCTU was no longer an active organization.

As time went on after the name change announcement and the silence from the new Center for Women’s History & Leadership became deafening, I started to wonder why. Early in 2018, the Center shared that the board had been going through a strategic planning process, funded by a grant from the Evanston Community Foundation. But no substantive information was included and the process seemed to be taking a long time. I began to wonder more about WCTU itself and started doing a little research.

WCTU OPPOSITION TO ABORTION AND HOMOSEXUALITY
One of the first things I came across when Googling WCTU was a reference to a 2004 WCTU conference described in a Chicago Tribune article (Oct. 29, 2004). The article mentioned two items in the conference platform: opposition to abortion and opposition to homosexuality. Specifically, the Tribune said:

“At the WCTU’s most recent national convention in August in Charleston, W.V., it passed six resolutions it asked its members to act on. One encouraged people to vote, and another set Sept. 9 as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Awareness Day.

“But of the other four, one commended President Bush for his effort to stop the use of federal funds for stem-cell research–consistent with the organization’s opposition to abortion. The remaining three involved sexuality. One supported the Marriage Protection Act, another encouraged children to take part in the Day of Purity, and another commended students who opposed homosexuality.”

These are not positions in the women’s movement that I want to be a part of. Or that I thought an organization with the generic and seemingly all-inclusive name of “Center for Women’s History & Leadership” would promote. Not after having lived through months of intersectional compassionate messaging courtesy of the Women’s Marches, with more and more women finding our voices. I began to wonder if my original enthusiasm for an organization called Center for Women’s History & Leadership had been misplaced.

WCTU AND ANTI-SEMITISM
Simultaneously, thanks to Donald Trump’s signifying, events across the nation and the world have sprouted more and more anti-Semitic propaganda and indeed anti-Semitic violence. As a Jew, I am becoming more hyper-vigilant for any new instances of anti-Semitism as well as old instances that haven’t been fully reckoned with.

A penultimate straw to me writing this letter was something I read in a library book that I had reserved two months ago that finally became available last weekend: Jill Lepore’s 2018 history of the United States, These Truths. On page 340 in a section about the WCTU, Lepore writes:

“…Sarah E.V. Emery, a devout Universalist from Michigan, rose to prominence as a speaker and writer through the WCTU, the Knights of Labor, and the Farmers’ Alliance. The Farmers’ Alliance sold over 400,000 copies of Emery’s anti-Semitic tract Seven Financial Conspiracies Which have Enslaved the American People.”

What finally moved me to start drafting this letter is the recent announcement about Alice Walker’s racism in the form of raging anti-Semitism. This was not entirely new to me as I had read her poem on the Talmud and had an inkling that something was wrong with one of my feminist idols. But I had chosen to overlook her poem and two days before the New York Times interview came out (about the books on her nightstand, one of which is by a well-known British anti-Semite, David Icke), I had posted a long quote from Alice Walker on my Twitter page. It was about a totally different subject and I used the quote because it was so inspiring. (I’m now rethinking my relationship to Alice Walker and her work.)

So far as I know, Alice Walker has no connection to WCTU or FWHA, but here’s the connections that are being made in 2018  by some people all over the country (not to mention the world):

Jill Lepore described an example of Sarah Emery’s anti-Semitism and quoted from Emery’s tract:

“‘But that period has passed, and today we boast more millionaires than any other country on the globe; tramps have increased in a geometrical ratio; while strikes, riots and anarchists’ trials constitute an exciting topic of conversation in all classes of society.’ Emery blamed this state of affairs on a conspiracy of Jewish bankers.”

This Jewish banker stuff is exactly what’s being spouted by Alice Walker, David Icke, and many others, and something that I addressed in an August 2017 blog (following the neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville): Monetary science and healing for white supremacists, Jews, and other confused Americans.  For the record, I reject the “Jewish bankers” theory as the cause of all our collective economic and social problems. For every Jewish banker, there have been many more non-Jewish bankers. (My blog is a little more nuanced.)

QUESTIONS GOING FORWARD
Given that some of my friends, neighbors, and colleagues have been involved with FWHA over the years and that I have appreciated having FWHA and museum in my 40 years in Evanston, this whole can of worms has been deeply disturbing. Perhaps I’ve connected some dots that should not be connected. Perhaps these questionable things in WCTU’s past have nothing to do with the lack of information about the new Center for Women’s History and Leadership.

I am fully aware that individuals in the organization may be insulted by my use of the phrase “questionable things” for sincere beliefs that some may have. For the record, I support every individual’s right to choose not to have an abortion or to not marry a particular person or to not bank with a particular banker. But making one’s individual beliefs a public policy is a “questionable” intention in my opinion, especially when such policies deprive others of their rights. This history cannot be overlooked if we are all to move forward–as Evanstonians, as Americans, as women, as leaders. It would help to have some questions answered so that we can know where we stand vis-a-vis the Center for Women’s History and Leadership and the Frances Willard Museum.

Questions to the Center for Women’s History and Leadership:
1. What does it mean to preserve the WCTU legacy as cited in the Aug. 15, 2017 comment by Glen Madeja, Executive Director of the FWHA?

“This is a very exciting time and opportunity for a redefinition of the FWHA into an expanded organization. We are very honored that the WCTU, as it approaches it’s 150th anniversary, has entrusted us with ensuring the future of its legacy. Members and leaders of both organizations have been working on this project for over two years. Their goals have been to safeguard the future of the property, ensure the legacy of the WCTU, and provide for proper stewardship of the Willard House Museum and the WCTU Archives so that they remain open to the public and available to researchers long into the future.”

2. What does it mean to merge these two organizations, as described in the Evanston Roundtable (Sept. 20, 2017):

“Now the NWCTU [National Woman’s Christian Temperance Union] and the Frances Willard Historical Association (FWHA) are merging into a single non-profit entity: the Center for Women’s History and Leadership.”

3. Is the Center going to continue to promote the WCTU’s 2004 platform, including opposition to abortion and homosexuality?

4. Will the Center make any statement disavowing past anti-Semitism in the WCTU? Will there be any plans to deal with anti-Semitism if it arises again within the new organization?

5. If the new Center is going to continue as a Christian women’s organization (or an organization that reflects a particular set of values not shared by all women), would you consider changing the name to reflect that fact so that people are not confused about the Center’s name?

6. Can you let us know any more details about the Center’s formal mission, activities, and official opening date?

 

I hope that the Center for Women’s History & Leadership can address these questions publicly, sooner rather than later. I would like nothing better than for the new Center to start its life with full enthusiasm, a welcome for all women, and programming unencumbered by any historical millstones (while also serving as a place to acknowledge historical events, artifacts, women, women’s accomplishments, etc.).

I have wanted to promote the new Center to my networks (local, state, regional, national), but have been unable to do so without any real information about the new organization. On the other hand, if the new Center is not going to be inclusive of all women and for all women, I’d like to know that, too.

Thanks for any information that you can provide.

— Debbie Hillman
Evanston, IL
www.FoodFarmsDemocracy.net

 

Response from Executive Director of Center for Women’s History and Leadership
Dated January 15, 2019
Published in full, with permission

Hello Debbie,

Thank you for writing to us and expressing your thoughts. We have been closed for the holidays – the Museum will reopen in February and the CWHL Board will reconvene in March.

We have been working in the background to ready ourselves organizationally. The announcement came out shortly after we filed for re-incorporation, changing the corporate identity from the Frances Willard Historical Association to The Center for Women’s History and Leadership. Since then, we have been going through a series of getting legally-required documents in place and approved by the Board, such as our by-laws. In addition, there have been many meetings with a law firm in Chicago (who is working on this project pro bono) to create the necessary documents that govern the relationship between the CWHL and WCTU. There were also documents required for Board and Staff members to sign, such as disclosure forms for conflict of interest. Additionally, we had to create governance structures for the CWHL, Frances Willard House Museum, and Frances Willard Memorial Library and Archives, establishing committee structures, revising the Board manual, developing Trustees’ responsibilities, etc. This is not exciting stuff for public consumption.

We have also done much in the way of planning. We received a grant from the Evanston Community Foundation to hire consultants to help us create a three-year strategic plan and a fundraising/development strategy and plan. We also worked with two graphic arts designers on creating a logo, which will be revealed later in the year. Please understand that our small Board is composed of all community volunteers and we meet four times a year. Things necessarily take a long time to create, refine, and implement.

In the meantime, these same people have had to deal with the daily operations issues and short-term planning for the Museum, Archives, and properties, which we manage on behalf of the WCTU.

We apologize for the lack of communication about these activities. We have tried to correct this through the addition of a CWHL section on the Willard House website, which includes a statement of our mission, vision, values, and activities, as well as a news page when we have any. My contact information has also been added to the main Contact page and the Board and Staff page under CWHL. That was an oversight.

The former Frances Willard Historical Association, now the current Center for Women’s History and Leadership, is a separate legal entity from the WCTU, with a separate mission, goals, and operations, and governed by an agreed-upon Management Agreement. The FWHA/CWHL is primarily a historical organization which runs the Museum and Archives and strives to tell the story of Frances Willard and the WCTU in an objective and factual way possible. We are not an advocacy organization. Our purpose is to learn from the leadership that Frances Willard and other WCTU leaders demonstrated to teach and inspire today’s women to be leaders in their communities.

Since we are a historical organization, we use the term “legacy” as synonymous with “history” which is why it is part of our corporate identity. Miriam-Webster Dictionary defines legacy as “something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past”.

Any organization or group of people who have a long history (the WCTU is almost 150 years old) is going to have some individuals or actions who do not fit with today’s social norms. We have seen it locally with John Evans, a founder of Northwestern University and after whom Evanston is named, having been involved in the Sand Creek Massacre of Native Americans when he was governor and superintendent of Indian Affairs of the Colorado Territory. Sheridan Road is named after a military man who also killed many Native Americans. And Frances Willard herself had a confrontation with Ida B. Wells over the issue of lynching given Willard not promptly and decisively denouncing it.

As a historical organization, we have an obligation to explore fully what were the circumstances, activities, and language at that time that led to actions that we can learn from today. The confrontation between Wells and Willard is an example of this kind of exploration: over the past two years we have been developing a public history project entitled “Truth-Telling: Frances Willard and Ida B. Wells.” We have partnered with Northwestern University and Loyola University to create a website which fully presents this issue and will hold a free public reception and panel discussion on the conflict between Willard and Wells will be held at Northwestern on Thursday, March 14. We invite you to join us for that program.

Finally, a note about the proposed merger between CWHL and the WCTU. Our pro bono law firm believes this is the most expedient way to allow for the transfer of the property and any other WCTU assets to the CWHL without tax consequences or legal wrangling. There is no plan to merge the operations of the two organizations. The merger will be finalized when the WCTU has decided they will dissolve their corporate entity.

I hope this answers your questions. Thank you for your interest and watch for future news as the CWHL grows as an organization

Glen Madeja
Executive Director
Center for Women’s History and Leadership
Franceswillardhouse.org