Horses in North America

While horses are kept by Americans and are considered such an important part of our history, few people understand that for a period of time, the existence of horses in North America came to an abrupt halt. Digs and studies have found horses and their close relatives to had lived on the North American continent as long as 3.5 million years ago, but about 10,000-13,000 years ago the North American horses died off for unknown reasons. Some believe this was due to climate change, disease, or a combination of both. Some scientists speculate that their food availability changed due to many areas becoming colder and having less plant life to support them. It is more likely that some type of infectious disease became widespread and killed them off, due to many other species of 4 legged animals thriving during this same time period. Regardless of the cause, horses went extinct for thousands of years.

The first horses to run on North American soil again were from foreign lands. Christopher Columbus brought horses with him in the late 1530s when he landed on what is now Florida. However, Hernán Cortés let the first horses run on North American land about 12 years earlier. Over the decades many explorers brought much larger quantities of horses, but almost all the horses came from Spain in one respect or another. Eventually horses from other countries made their way in, and through cross-breeding and trade, many other breeds became common.

While Natives made contact with some early explorers, it is unknown exactly when Native Americans obtained and learned to care for horses. One can only imagine the reaction of a Native American, who has seen all their land has to offer, then coming face to face with these large hoofed beasts for the first time. Native Americans heavily utilized horses as they were able to obtain them. Horses allowed Natives to hunt faster, fight more effectively, and trade with greater ease. The horse completely changed the way buffalo hunting was executed, in ways that were good for the horses population, but bad for the buffaloes.

Later on, horses became a major part of the movement out west in the United States, especially in cattle herd management, agriculture, transportation, and movement of freight. Eventually with technological advancements like the automobile and trains, horses lost most of the need and their numbers dwindled. It wasn’t until the mid 1900’s that their numbers increased just from people keeping them for hobbies including horseback riding and rodeo.

Banknote

One of my lifelong hobbies has been collecting banknotes (dollar bills) from other countries. I’m going to start featuring essays on some of my notes from time to time.

Peru- 500 Intis- 1987

Featuring the face of Jose Gabriel Condorcanqui Tupac Amaru II, known as simply Tupac Amaru II, who was the leader of a huge Andean uprising against the Spanish in Peru. He died for his cause in the uprising in the summer of 1781, forever immortalized in Peruvian culture as a leader of independence and human rights.

Peru is a South American country bordering Colombia, Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Chile. The country has a population of roughly 32 million people. The largest flying bird on Earth, the Giant Andean Condor is found flying above Peru’s lands, with a 14 foot wingspan allowing it to fly for hours without flapping its wings. Peru has two-thirds of its land covered by the Amazon Rain Forest, and believe it or not Penguins are known to hang out on the beaches of Peru in Paracas.

Hiroshima

Hiroshima is a city of an estimated 1.2 million people, located in Western Japan. Founded near the very end of the 1500’s, Hiroshima eventually became a growing area that held a significant military status throughout multiple centuries. Hiroshima is well known most for the actions that took place at 8:15am on August 6th, 1945. At that moment, a United States Army Air Forces dropped an atomic bomb on the city. The bomb known only as ‘little boy’ was the first atomic bomb to ever be used in war. It is estimated that as many as 150,000 people died within a year due to the blast and its lasting effects. To this day the decision to use atomic weapons is still debated on a worldwide scale due to its immense power to destroy.

Hiroshima was targeted due to Japans involvement in World War 2, after Japan attacked the United States at Pearl Harbor. Battles raged in the Pacific Ocean and on countless islands between the two powers, until the United States made the decision to end the war by dropping atomic bombs. This made Hiroshima one of only 2 cities to ever fall victim to a nuclear weapon. The second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki only a few days later, effectively causing Japan to surrender for fear that Toyko would be next.

Let’s learn about Iceland

Iceland is a Nordic country that has a population of 360,000, and is one of the most sustainable energy producers by population. 85% of the country’s primary energy comes from hydroelectric and geothermal power creating more electricity per capita than any other country in the world. The landscape of the country is made up of volcanoes, geysers, lava fields, and hot springs. Due to its climate, Iceland almost never gets above 65 degrees (F) all year long. It is the 18th largest island in the world, and is larger than the island of Ireland.

Iceland’s history is heavily rooted in the Vikings, and the horses that still roam Iceland to this day are direct descendants of Viking horses, as no outside horses have ever been allowed to visit the land. Iceland has less than 1,200 documented insects, far less than the 50,000+ most countries have. Prior to human arrival, the only living mammal known to live in Iceland was the Arctic fox, although it is not unheard of for polar bears to visit occasionally before returning to their homes.

Famous for their long words, the longest Icelandic word that holds real meaning is ‘vaðlaheiðarvegavinnuverkfærageymsluskúraútidyralyklakippuhringur.’ It’s meaning involves a key ring.

The Battle of the Little Bighorn

The Battle of the Little Bighorn occurred on June 25th 1876, and lasted less than 12 hours. The battle was fought with forces from the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes battling the U.S. Army’s 7th Cavalry Regiment led by Lieutenant Colonel George Custer. Often referred to as Custer’s Last Stand this battle was a major win for Native warriors, and a huge loss to Army soldiers. The native warriors were led by legendary leaders including Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse that sought to protect the land and their tribes.

Located right next to the Little Bighorn River on the Crow Indian Reservation in Montana, this war took place due to large amounts of gold being found nearby in the Black Hills, and the American government decided to ignore previous treaties with native tribes in an effort to mine the newfound gold. As word spread the government was marching towards this land, thousands of Natives from countless tribes gathered together to defend it.

Multiple Army columns lined up preparing to take the land if natives didn’t leave. Once Custer’s 600 men entered the area, Custer’s cavalry was told to scout for enemy combatants and to hold for reinforcements before engaging the Natives that were protecting the land. Custer decided to engage before reinforcements would show and the native forces engaged them in combat. Custer’s men were suddenly separated and overwhelmed when an estimated 3,000 native warriors began their defense of the land, Custer and 250 of his men fell to their deaths within an hours time. Many soldiers fled with serious injuries and died later due to their wounds. The Army lost the battle for the land and used this as propaganda to convince Americans that natives were blood thirsty savages that needed to be controlled. While it was a great victory for the natives, within 5-10 years all of the same tribes would be confined to small reservations and lose most of their freedoms they had, taken from them by the US Government.

Stars and Stripes

Everyone knows why we have 50 stars on the American Flag… hopefully.

What many people may not know, or even realize is why there are 13 stripes. Do you remember learning the song “13 Original Colonies” in school? Maybe not, but that’s why we have 13 stripes; 7 red stripes and 6 white stripes, because of the 13 original colonies that our country had.

These were 13 colonies of Great Britain, inhabited on the East Coast, eventually declaring Independence from Britain in 1776. These Thirteen Colonies consisted of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Most people don’t know that the 14th state, the first to be cut out of the classroom song, was Vermont.

The 13 colonies eventually created the ‘Articles of Confederation’ that served as our first constitution. It was ratified in 1781, but was replaced by the United States Constitution effective March 4th, 1789. The Articles of Confederation did not include a Supreme Court (Judicial Branch) or a President of the United States (Executive Branch), it included only a Congress.

Caliber vs MM and why

A common confusion in firearms begins with the ammunition. Some ammo has a decimal in front of it, some ammo has ‘mm’ after it, some says NATO on it. Let’s clear up the differences. All of these terms are regarding the diameter of the bullet/barrel being used.

Caliber is mostly an American term, and is written as a decimal of an inch. This means in theory a .45 caliber, has a bullet that is 45/100 of an inch wide at its widest point. Due to manufacturing and marketing reasons, these numbers may be slightly off. An example: the .380, .357 Mag, and .38 Special all use the exact same .356 bullet. This still gives you the idea that the bullet is between .35 and .39 of an inch wide. All of these rounds have different casings behind them holding different amounts of gun powder.

MM is for millimeter, or 1/1000th of a meter. This means a 9mm bullet is 9/1000th’s of a meter wide. A millimeter is 0.039 inch, so 9mm uses the exact same bullet as the .380, .357 Mag, and .38 Special as it uses a .356 bullet. A good conversion to get you a ballpark number is multiply the mm by four since 0.039 can be harder to calculate in your head. 9mm x 4 =360mm, convert to caliber and .360 and .356 are very close measurements to eachother. Another example is the 10mm and a .40CAL use the exact same bullet, differences are behind the bullet.

NATO is an ammo designation for ammunition used by NATO forces. NATO is the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a group of 30+ countries in a military alliance. Since most of these countries use the metric system, all NATO rounds are referred to in MM. Common NATO rounds are the 9MM NATO, 5.56 NATO (similar to .223), 7.62x51MM (similar to .308), and the 12MM NATO (.50 CAL). NATO rounds do have slight differences to their civilian caliber counterparts.

What these measurements do NOT tell you is the power created by the gunpowder behind the bullet. Bigger bullets do no necessarily have more power. Rifle rounds usually have smaller bullets than handgun rounds, but fly 3-7 times faster due to larger amounts of gun powder behind them. You will also see ‘gr’ or ‘grain’ with ammunition size, this is the weight of the BULLET being held by the casing, the higher the grain, the heavier the bullet. This changes impact pressure, velocity, and long range accuracy.

What happened to Yugoslavia?

Yugoslavia is a former country that has a long history of suffering and bloodshed. After the end of World War 1, the territory of Yugoslavia formed in 1918 as the ‘Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes’ but did not actually adopt the name Yugoslavia until 1929. Before the sun rose on April 6th, 1942, Nazi forces (German, Italian, and Hungarian) invaded Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia lasted only 11 days of bombing by the German Luftwaffe before they surrendered. Over 300,000 Yugoslavian officers and soldiers would be taken as prisoner of war by the Nazis in the following weeks. Different parts of the country were taken control of by the Axis Powers. Over 500,000 were murdered in their own homeland, at the direction of mostly Nazi leadership. It is estimated that from 1942 to 1945 over 1,000,000 Yugoslavian’s were killed in World War 2.

After World War 2 ended, Yugoslavia rejected Soviet power and moved towards a Socialist government known as the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. This name lasted until the early 90’s when the Yugoslav Wars began. The ‘Yugoslav Wars’ lasted from the early 90’s to the early 2000’s. These conflicts were between multiple territories but all involved ethnic and religious conflict, as well as battles for territorial independence. It is estimated that the Yugoslav Wars took the lives of 140,000 people. These wars led to the separation of Yugoslavia into multiple independent governments. Yugoslavia broke up into multiple countries: Slovenia (population: 2 million), Croatia (4.1 million), Bosnia and Herzegovina (3.3 million), Serbia (7 million), Montenegro (630,000), Kosovo (1.9 million), and Macedonia (2 million).

Yugoslavia no longer exists as a recognized country but its history is still important, as it endured more bloodshed and unrest than most European countries have seen in the same century.