Mixing History With Economic Development in the “Old-Man River” Renaissance Idea

by Bobby Reyes

| Photo by Andrew James on Unsplash

Part XXVI of the “EDEN America” Series

It is public knowledge that the “Old-Man River” is the world’s fourth-longest river. Here is its description: “At 6,275 kilometers (3,902 miles), the Mississippi-Missouri-Jefferson River System is the fourth-longest in the world and the longest river in the United States. Although each river separately would not be in the top five, these three rivers are grouped into one because the Missouri River meets the Mississippi near the city of St. Louis, while the Missouri connects to the Jefferson River in Montana.” Please read more of its description in Phys.org at this link. (Note: Some of the salient points in the Phys.org report are mentioned in this instant article, as correctly identified with quotation marks.)

Yes, the “Old-Man River” has a long history of passenger and cargo vessels (riverboats and barges, too) sailing its waters. From time to time, tragedy strikes.

As Googled, one of the most tragic incidents was the sinking of the S.S. Sultana. A commercial side-wheel steamboat exploded and sank on the Mississippi River on April 27, 1865. The mishap killed 1,168 individuals in the worst maritime disaster in United States history. Reports say that it was authorized to carry only 400 passengers.

Modern cruise ships sail the Mississippi, Ohio, and Tennessee Rivers on 5- to 14-night theme cruises. Cruises depart from New Orleans, Memphis, St. Louis, St. Paul, Louisville, Nashville, and Cincinnati. As advertised, many of the cruises offer onboard, and on-shore “cultural-enrichment” trips or excursions.

Indeed, the waters of the Mississippi and all its river tributaries have “a long history of significance”, especially to Native-American Indian (NAI) cultures. “Many (NAI) nations lived along its river banks, most of which were hunters and gatherers that used the river as a source of water and for transportation. But for some – such as the Mound builders – the river was key to the formation of prolific agricultural societies.”

“Indeed, the waters of the Mississippi and all its river tributaries have “a long history of significance”, especially to Native-American Indian (NAI) cultures.”

Approximately seven tribes in Colonial Tennessee: the Muscogee (Creek), Yuchi, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Cherokee, Shawnee, and Seneca. This columnist and his supporters in Tennessee, like Ms. Thalia Young and other well-meaning folks, will have to sit down with the representatives of the said seven tribes. And brief them of our ideas on how to help them achieve the ideal socio-economic empowerment. This column will present on December 29th some of the said suggested plans and programs so that the tribal leaders can discuss if they may like to join the planned consortium, aka a Public-Private Partnership (PPP). Of course, as previously mentioned, those “economic dreams” will have to be turned into feasibility studies by experts in their areas of excellence.

Then we will encourage the NAI tribes that decide to join the said consortium to contact the other tribes in the 30 other states (and the two Canadian provinces) if they also want to do the planned ventures in their respective tribal nation. They may like to form a consortium within the grand federation of consortia and cooperatives.

“The arrival of Europeans in the 1500s changed the native way of life drastically as first explorers, then settlers, ventured into the basin in increasing numbers and colonized the area.” But this topic may have to be discussed by more-qualified American historians. It is beyond the pay grade of this writer.

“Then we will encourage the NAI tribes that decide to join the said consortium to contact the other tribes in the 30 other states (and the two Canadian provinces) if they also want to do the planned ventures in their respective tribal nation.”

Perhaps all the cruise-ship companies operating in the Mississippi, Ohio, and Tennessee Rivers can pool their resources in collating and documenting all the historical narratives for a massive 13-part documentary series and coffee-table books. The cruise ships can serve as floating mini-museum, libraries, book stores, and theaters. Or the cruise-ship passengers can watch them via closed-circuit television in the privacy of their cabins (or at their respective residences when they return home) at their convenience.

And speaking of documentary films, this columnist befriended Francesco Quinn years ago, an actor son of the legendary Anthony Quinn, who broke the glass ceiling of Hollywood. We discussed the production of films about the Spanish conquests and historical expeditions in North America and other countries like the Philippines. Francesco was set to organize a new movie studio (with our group as a minority industrial partner). He was determined to play the role of Fernando de Magallanes, who died in what became the Filipino archipelago in 1521. But as fate would have it, he passed to the Great Beyond on August 5, 2011. But our dreams did not die with Francesco. We are still talking with the Quinn Family, as his widow and their two children are all members of the American Actors Guild.

But the words in Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 (KJV): “To everything, there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die … – console the Quinns and us.

We have never given up the hope that there will be a time when a Multiethnic-Quinn Studio will be born and organized in North America and the Philippines. As the adage says, “Hope springs eternal.”

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