Wednesday, November 23, 2016


Welcome to another installment of SHANE'S EXCELLENT NEW WORDS, a regular Wednesday feature at NA Confidential.

But why all these newfangled words?

Why not the old, familiar, comforting words, like the ones you're sure to hear when asking the city's corporate attorney why the answers to my FOIA/public records request for Bicentennial commission finances, due to be handed over on July 8, still haven't arrived on November 23?

Bicentennial commission financial trail? What's two (yawn) weeks (shrug) after 463 days?

November 23 update: Make that 20 weeks since the FOIA record request's due date and 588 days since I asked Bullet Bob Caesar to tell us how many coffee table books were left unsold, and how much the city's 200-year "summer of love" fest actually cost us. It's with Indiana's public access counselor now, and a verdict is to be rendered no later than the first week of December, so perhaps "compliance" would be a word for our friend's future consideration.

No, it's because a healthy vocabulary isn't about intimidation through erudition. Rather, it's about selecting the right word and using it correctly, whatever one's pay grade or station in life.

Even these very same iniquitous, paving-bond-slush-engorged municipal corporate attorneys who customarily are handsomely remunerated to suppress information can benefit from this enlightening expansion of personal horizons, and really, as we contemplate what they knew and when they knew it, all we have left is plenty of time -- and the opportunity to learn something, if we're so inclined.

Many readers already know about the Calumet Club in New Albany. There are also Calumet rivers, regions and towns. But what is a calumet as a noun? It's a Native American pipe.

Tobacco, indigenous to North America, followed Indian trade routes throughout the continent long before Columbus arrived, and pipe smoking took on a ritual and religious importance in many tribes. Naturally, the crafting of pipes became equally important.

The most famous Native American pipes are the long calumets or "peace pipes" of the Sioux and other Plains Indian tribes, which were made by attaching a wooden stem to a bowl carved from catlinite or "pipestone." (Pipestone is native to Minnesota, but due to intertribal trade was available throughout Native North America.) Other native pipe-making traditions included the smaller one-piece stone and ceramic pipes of the Iroquois and Cherokee tribes, wood and antler pipes of the Southwest Indians, and the post-Columbian tomahawk pipes with a metal pipe bowl and hatchet on opposite ends of the stem.

Calumet Club Dates in History, courtesy of the Calumet Club, illustrate that it was a thriving social institution on post-WWI New Albany. Finally, from the library's Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room comes this memento of times long gone.

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