Friday, January 30, 2009


I've continued to defend my position that the best argument against vouchers is private schools are intentionally off the hook from really going deeply into civics out of loyalty to Uncle Sam, grooming students to be president someday.

For example, you might be doing this "grin and bear it" stint in Oregon, a Japanese national, staring down the barrel of some ETS equivalent, have no time to waste on what passes for "curriculum" at Joe Sixpack public high school.

So you attend a private school, funded by Japanese companies, and no, you can't take public tax funded vouchers to fund your attendance here, nor did you ask to do that, ever.

The USA is very accepting
of the many cultures and isn't hell bent on stifling freedoms, so we have lots of Yeshivas, Ashrams, Gulags, Gazeebos you name it.

Many kids go through life mostly oblivious to the USA's inner workings and dynamics, don't need to know, don't care to know, read the voters' pamphlets, take cues from community leaders.

However, those public systems which work openly in service of the public trust in having a USA sustained charter, need to focus on training and recruiting future elected officials and their support staffs, providing them with the skills necessary to work in a rough and tumble democracy with many diverse ethnicities endeavoring to self-govern as USA citizens.

Filling openings in local, state and federal government from the ranks of public schools is not a conflict of interest, it's what these schools are especially good at, by design.

Now one could imagine an "eager beaver" private school turning itself into a 100% flag waving pro USA elite academy, taking that tack, and then lining up to take vouchers, could happen.

But that's a kind of back handed loophole approach, versus simply forming a new charter and accepting public monies openly and directly, i.e. if you want to quack like a public school, why not just be one?

There's a wrinkle here, in that some private academies might actually have a more effective way of promoting its grads into government positions i.e. it is indeed possible for privately run schools to outshine public ones, even where training "virtual presidents" is concerned. Something in the meatloaf? Some secret sauce?

However this is not inherently a contradiction, nor need these schools take a position any different from mine on the voucher issue, i.e. they're proud of not taking government handouts, even as they help staff the ranks of government. Takes all kinds.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Back at Cubespace

I'm geeking out around town again, hoping to snarf five PHP books before sundown, praise Allah for O'Reilly's Safari.

These have been heady days. I phoned the office of a heart surgeon, talked with the secretary, hoping for permission to use his name as a reference, having collaborated on that application for the operating room years ago.

Too boring for ER or Gray's Anatomy: Kirby in scrubs, 2 AM, plugging away in Microsoft FoxPro at the observation station, all darkness and empty theaters, nothing going, reams of xBase reflecting in my glasses, pre-iPod (CD players in the theaters though).

By day, I'd be out of their way, except those few times when perfusionists called me in for a font change or something, a way of keeping alert during a sometimes long procedure, for which they are highly trained.

Open heart surgery is a little like open source programming: many eyeballs praying for easy fixes for complications (aka "shallow bugs"). Surgeons have a cool bag of tricks, more every day, plus sometimes an angioplasty is sufficient (like with a stent or balloon).

I'm still debating about OSCON
, whether I should give a talk this year in San Jose (Silicon Valley). Would anyone be interested? Do I have a budget?

Attracting Grunchies to cosponsor my Oregon Curriculum Network has been like pulling teeth (mine). No one thinks there's any commercial potential in tetrahedra I guess, aside from Lipton, or at least not 4D ones -- 3D is OK, as long as squares get to go first and qyoobs get all the respect they deserve.

Hooray for qyoobs
, I love Big Brother, V-sign etc. (flag waving -- not white though).

I accepted an invite to join another book review team, another "animal book" maybe, University of Michigan connection.

Monday, January 26, 2009

More School Business

Anna continues chopping wood for her Thunderbird Early College Charter. Her meetings with LEP High, which I arranged, had to do with governance structures, model UN, and relationships with local institutions of higher learning.

The K-16 pipeline isn't about regimenting by age too strictly, especially in terms of technical content -- orthogonal to "lore" I would argue, e.g. there's nothing to stop Big Bird from teaching about complex numbers, other than reputation (character) -- no small asset in his case, ditto Barney.

So, if Jill shoots ahead up the fish ladder, wants to geek out, the well-designed charter obliges by providing early access to college materials, presuming that's what she craves. This presumes good town-gown relations, between administrators and faculties.

Closer to home, I've continued lallygagging with OS Bridge organizers Audrey and Selena, Igal and Ed. I referred them to my letter of introduction to the new PPS superintendent, about promotiong Portland schools at Pycon 2009, a possible source of marketing ideas?

How to interest teachers, executives, activists of all stripes, in the prospects of free and open source software (FOSS) and hardware? What good is "open source" if you can't read it or change it?

Not just the Gutenberg Press sparked a renaissance; also critical was learning how to teach reading effectively.

Private sky namespace: I'm liking CHR for "chief of human resources", rhymes with CTO, CSO etc., plus HR also stands for human rights.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Quiet First Day

re "evil Russians"
This is post number 501 to Control Room, sounds like a blue jeans commercial.

Alexia is over for a family breakfast. They're heading to Multnomah Friends, where Tara has committee responsibilities. Then we get to meet up with our friends from Stillaguamish Country (north of Seattle).

Speaking of Quakers, Quaker-P is abuzz with policy discussions this morning, John Wilmerding, fellow faculty at John Woolman College, having just archived something to the new USA president, others (e.g. me) kibitzing.

I'm currently in the process of getting my Python for Teachers peer reviewed, just sent out some more links, to like New Mexico Tech and places. Loyal readers of my blog will have seen a lot of this material already.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Salons Dot Net

Some holdouts still think the printed page is the best investment, and I do enjoy my glossy magazines, bought the new Vanity Fair at Powell's yesterday, Tara getting something in metaphysics.

However the scribes were doing illuminated manuscripts while dreaming of Prospero's Books, much as Leibniz was dreaming of machine executable languages. They were enjoying a thriving economy while prefiguring a future one, ours, based more around LCDs, with more economies to come.

In the lore we study as geekoid Americanos, Romany Marie figures in as one of our early CSN queens. She helped Bucky and Isamu find one another, making history. Philosophy and coffee shops have an old relationship anyway, some saying those were the beans Pythagoras raved about, in terms of boosting his IQ. I don't believe it.

The printed page stays important of course, nor is there a line between those, and the illuminated screen versions. We're talking a kind of isomorphism here, with digital storage actually more secure, assuming a high tech civilization able to perpetuate itself (a lot to assume, but it's what the book people were aiming for, so it's not like we're abandoning their dream of literate descendants).

I'm awake early again, chipping away on my slides for Chicago, fixing those typos. We're gonna slog through a pre-college "curriculum of tomorrow" (or visit an "other tomorrow" as Esozone put it) but not by treating ourselves as if we're on some remedial track. No, we're busy professionials, here to have fun. Experience counts for something. We'll share lotsa lore.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Save the Polar Bears
Twas my privilege to meet with the CSN CTO at Laughing Planet today, to go over my Pycon 2009 Chicago slides. I'm now one of the lucky few with this Save the Polar Bears T-shirt, a fine work of art.

We also chatted about the CFO some, another jet setter, if I may use an archaic term.

Prior to jets, Hollywood movie stars would head for Avalon, Catalina, a romantic overnight trip. The small airfield wasn't really about handling large scale commercial traffic, so when jet travel came into vogue, Catalina sort of went off the radar, in favor of Paris, Hawaii...

The Chicago talk looks at the importance of mnemonics, the Art of Memory, as a complement of skills building. We master new skills with a purpose, because we're expecting to accomplish some real world task. A seminar or workshop will have that purpose as a focus, and gear its stories accordingly.

The same skills-building exercises will come wrapped in different stories, depending on which subculture is making use of the tools (in this case, computer languages).

My choice of predominantly Akbar font was pretty interesting. We talked about Oregon's history as a source of cartooning, including of political cartooning. My particular brand of positive futurism builds on that past.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inaugural Day Ball

Confetti by D. Koski using vZome
David Koski has been working hard on his analysis of the 62-faced great rhombicosidodecahedron in terms of component hexahedra, in turn comprised of edges from the golden cuboid.

These studies relate to Steve Baer's vis-a-vis the 90-faced enneacontahedron, the hexahedral Baer cells likewise expressible in terms of phi-scaled tetrahedral components.

This newest dissection features 455 hexahedra with some of these (70) flattened into tiles, yielding one hexagon and two compositions of three Penrose tiles (two thin and a fat, two fat and a thin), the latter suitable for tiling the 12 decagons.

Additional patterns pertain, relating the axial count to surface:total facet ratios. These patterns served Koski as a guide, when developing this 15 axis shape from a 14 axis precursor, adding 91 hexahedra in the process.

Five of the component hexahedra are simple cubes and in Confetti (above), their locations are depicted. Note that one of these cubes is on the surface. David comments: "The name? First thing to pop in my head. I do like the Obama inaugural celebratory tie in."

Sunday, January 18, 2009


I drove to the place on NE 33rd where the Google Streets car turned by the Oregon Food Bank, a former client.

Google Maps helpfully demarcates Streets View coverage, when you drag the little person icon onto the map, so finding this turn was no problem.

Dignity Village, not currently included in the dodeca-cam archive, is experimentally prototypical of the small, remote (sometimes extremely) campus of tomorrow, featuring local self government, some permaculture, plenty of bandwidth (potentially), and easy enough access to transportation (PDX is adjacent, while the #10 stops right outside the main gate).

Today was bright and cold, with a strong east wind from up the Columbia Gorge.

The weather wasn't severe enough to keep us off the water however. Brenda of Washington DC, and Leslie of Multnomah's Friendly Care Committee joined us in this Wanderers head office for a pow wow. I dug out the Bucky play brochure and talked about Doug Tompos, the actor, coming on the boat last year.

Given Leslie is highly trained as a teacher, I was happy to get some pointers on my technique after explaining the gist of public key cryptography to her, a topic she thought might be of interest to Montessori students.

Welcome back Alexia, after a long drive from Tennessee, looking forward to seeing you once you get settled.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

OOP in an Hour

Learn OOP the Python way, from a master. Sure, it's a home movie in some ways, but that's part of its charm.

This takes us back a ways, to the dawn of Python 2.3 when the property descriptor was introduced. What's a descriptor again? If you've heisted the __set__, __get__ and __delete__ rib cage, that makes you one.

Note: every Python class comes with a "rib cage" of special names or __ribs__, for which you're free to define special behaviors. Snakes have lots of ribs so this all makes some sense, no?

OS Bridge

Kid Friendly
:: pythonic math in the silicon forest ::

Minimum Two
:: birds of a feather ::

Winterhaven Science
:: open source science ::

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Mathematical Toyz

Projectile Motion in VPython
by Erik Thompson at Cal State

Calling it "progamming for everyone" ala CP4E and/or P4E may give the wrong picture, given cultural stereotypes.

TV people program, sequence our shows (lotsa loops on HBO). Go to the theater, many churches, and they hand you a program don't they. The calendar is a program, a web framework, serving events (meetings, holidays) -- ready or not a lot of the time (those wheels keep on turning).

You'll interact with our snake (Python), play with a deque, a chat bot, reach into the guts of our objects for methods (dot notation), but did you write any programs? Maybe, maybe not (sure, sometimes). We don't care that much, what you call something everybody does (dinks around? solves stuff?).

We're too busy learning about vectors and polyhedra in Vpython to care strongly if this is "computer programming" or not (what's that again?). We've got this philosophical model, a logic, of objects with attributes, and yes, it happens to be machine executable (a feature, not a bug).

We're playing with "toyz" (edgier than "toys" -- closer to real tools of the trade).

Or do we deny junior much access to toyz? Too dangerous to empower her or him with executive level skills. She might become a hacker, move to Portland, feed that open source revolution or whatever they call it. Can't have that. Must oppress, must deaden.

No Zome, no vZome, no magnetic MITEs, no StrangeAttractors, nothing much hands-on (certainly no GPS, no classes in how to use those school-issued PDAs), no YouTube... a conspiracy of idiocrats or simply obsolete programming?

Does it matter whom we blame? Only to the extent that this helps us solve the problem. Allow for upgrades (have faith), do the work, be attentive, experiment. These are some Quaker teachings as well.

:: stairway 2 by David Koski in vZome ::

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

At Work

:: cube view ::
I'm a cube farmer today, in familiar digs, having checked in at the front desk. My job: curriculum writing around Unicode, bridging that to our gnu numeracy sequence, which takes you to public key cryptography, embedded in every web browser, by senior year (the better to run your Visa card my dear -- you've seen that little key when in SSL mode right?).

My solution: do the early group theory stuff using non-Latin-1 characters, or maybe with Latin-1 if working with those unfamiliar with it. The point is to focus on the patterns without getting sucked in by any meaning, let the characters stay alien and interesting; more cardination than ordination.

You'll see another approach in my Vegetable Group Soup, done in Flash. Turn down your sound if you're in a cube not using headphones, might be annoying.

On my lunch break, I'm doing something perverse: buying the same pair of shoes I just bought from Payless, because I somehow managed to misplace some size 13Ws. My understanding of P.D. Ouspensky is he'd've had himself taken back side of the barn and shot for such spaciness (something about an umbrella -- kinda scary those Russians), but then fortunately "man cannot do" (joke).

That'll give me a chance to move the car (in a 30 minute slot) and pick a different cube (lots of empties, not tethered by an Ethernet cord). I've got the Men's Warehouse shoes now, doing "the professor". Cell phone: Mary just called, setting up lunch for Thursday, cool. The CFO, met via Western Equities, is flitting about, doing the "hotlanta circuit" via Texas.

US Bank did come through with that SBA thing, but it's not really a capital equipment challenge (KTU3's giant Sony Trinitron monitor may be going soon, I'll grant you that). It's more a matter of HR, of too many lawyers not knowing enough SQL, if I might be blunt about something. People sit around in meetings deciding what they're entitled to, but nobody has the skills. I understand Patrick's disillusionment and the millions Portland may have already lost to some other city with more savvy about buzz bots (very SQL intensive). Reminds me of the old bedside story where the patient goes "whassa matter doc, ain't my millions good enough for ya?" Too much stairway to heaven talk in some circles, no one enrolling in medical school, actually doing the hard jobs.

Of course I exaggerate the direness of the situation. Given the global Internet, we're not dependent on any one local economy for smarts. Plus Portland is on a steep learning curve, thanks to the Bucky play, thanks to Powell's, thanks to ISEPP, thanks to a lot of reasons. We're a very literate culture, plus have that pioneer spirit to boot.

Nick was through yesterday, coming from Bellingham, looks like Chehalis has opened again. Fernwood was like under water I think he said. We yakked about the student loan problem, Princeton having an enlightened policy on that score (ahead of its time). I'm more in the mood to talk "refund" than "forgiveness" but that's just my usual blarney (goes hand in hand with that elvynchyk "not ready to make nice" talk). OK, gotta go. My XO fits in the Ubuntu bag no problem. I have two XOs, thanks to "get one, keep one" (joke).

Monday, January 12, 2009


A Duck Type
:: looking at Spore ::
OK, it's somewhat demented, but consistent with my view that shadow boxing with puppets is a way to sublimate violence, more than encourage it. Channel aggression into these games, play chess (cold), not war (hot). Even make the games remunerative in some way, educational.

From the Wanderers list:
Here's an invention, based on Spore and like those: kids breed their own chickens, based on various comical algorithms, on the computer (cartoon chickens), ready for combat in a game called 'Cockfight!'. At first parents object but then we show how it comes with a syllabus, like Clifford Geertz doing deep description, lots of National Geographic video about cock fighting cultures, and suddenly it's OK, and not only that, junior gets academic credit in the anthro department, plus you can play for real money, so some of the parents get involved, muscle junior aside, get involved in obsessive cockfighting for money -- all thanks to me.
As I mentioned later on edu-sig:
My own DWA / 4D has: Satellite Toshiba x1 (x2 counting mom's when she's around, plus she has a Sony Vaio which I'm not counting); OLPC XO x2; Ubuntu Dell laptops x2; various PC desktops x4 (3 in office, one for Spores etc., working on Spores-based Cockfight! concept, an alternative to violence against chickens (roosters), with real money bets possible, more on Wanderers Yahoo! list (have to knock to get in)).
Note I say "concept" i.e. I am not equipped to write this computer game all by my lonesome (nobody is -- takes a team). Most projects that interest me aren't one person jobs (e.g. the edu-sig link above talks more about my "bizmo" fleets).

In the context of Wanderers, I went on to compare having the Bucky & Ed stuff in philosophy to having a "combat chicken" on steroids giving philosophers fun ways to engage other departments on their own turf, more like in the old days, very Quadrivial.

Of course that's a trivializing metaphor, but hey, as a Quaker who plays Quake, I have my own karma to work out. My World Game Museum is another one of my outlets, helps me get through the day.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

1-2-3 Testing...

I use Skype with my CTO sometimes (even to send money). Here I'm testing Google Video Chat with Friend Fabik. Works great. Dave's on an Eee PC by Asus (costs more than an XO).

Friday, January 09, 2009

Weird Technoinvective

From the Wanderers list (adding hyperlinks here); me swatting at something. FAQ: "what's technoinvective Dr. Urner?"

Yeah STEM is a big buzz word, see that on Math Forum, also in Anna's writings (she's the charter school founding home schooling Sarah Palin type in Wasilla, doing Thunderbird Charter based on STEM).

What I heckled IEEE about at Portland Center Stage is how it's all so much lip service, as here I am, giving the basic STEM class, focusing on late 20th century sphere packing etc., which you'd think we'd be up to by now, yet I have approximately zero competition. They cart kids back to their public school prisons in tears after my class, as that's probably the last light of intelligence they're ever gonna see. Then it's back to dark ages Oliver Twist and anglophile curricula (count me an anglophile, but these curricula are from the time of Malthus-Darwin and we've come a long way since then).

So I do tend to snicker and sneer when I hear people tout their "reforms". As a back stage kinda guy, I know they're just bluffing, have no intention of saying "buckminsterfullerene" in the context of teaching about hexapents (e.g. nanotubes) which, if they have any clue about, they're not sharing (Alaska, on the other hand, does seem sincere, even wants to teach Python). It's the lower 48 (48L) that serves as a base for a cesspool of scam artists, a lot of them big name foundations, very into strut-and-puffery (reminds me of pre-WWII in some ways).

Anyway, not to sound too pessimistic, I don't think it's all up to the lower-48 where we go with STEM. Japan has a lot of strong leadings, and South Africa has already been a key player, will continue to be so. Alaska ain't so stupid either. Even Guam is ahead of West Virginia I'd hazard (but then who isn't?).

I'm just not looking to WDC for any leadership on this (Obama an exception -- he's from Hawaii, not L48), as legislator-lawyers don't have much math-science under their belts, can't think their way out of a paper bag, just take direction from Obnoxico (cite my rants on Exxon Math recently -- hollow self-promotion in the wake of wanton eco-slaughter).

Doug Strain was pretty funny on this, when talking about the transition to "cesium time" -- lots of pretty boys in the Navy, acting all miffed, just because they couldn't wrap their heads around metrology (Doug's forte). So they go down in history looking stupid, so what else is new?


Thursday, January 08, 2009

Front Lines

When taxes go towards streamlining medical record keeping, the solutions obviously belong in the commons somehow. Copyleft doesn't mean "commie" it means "you paid for it already". The engineers didn't see how they could ethically sell you the same pile of bits over and over, whereas marketing had no problem with that (they live on commissions). So GNU banded with Linus and others to make the critical tool set free of charge. Only problem: it still takes a lot of skill to use them, especially well.

So when the government moves in on some disaster zone, working on collecting census information (demographics), that's not about throwing money at the private sector and saying "hey, we're too dumb to do this ourselves" (it's not about outsourcing). The government has engineers and scientists just like everyone else and contributes. Not only that, but it contributes in a generous open way that lets more private operations benefit. We call this a BSD or MIT license -- many names for it.

Other times, we're more restrictive, because we don't trust the private sector to not pirate (copyright) what wasn't theirs to begin with -- the historical pattern. Some memes are just too valuable, make too much sense, to let the moneymakers hog 'em exclusively for selfish gain, in their trademarked "legally piggily" fashion (Bucky's word for it, cite Critical Path). Governments aren't behaving mindlessly when they protect their assets from being dumbed down by scam artists, other brands of counterfeiter, snake oil salesmen or whatever.

People worried about all this wealth flowing into cyberspace, economists mostly, think it's probably misbegotten altruism, not long for this world. But the more intelligent picture is we have a layered stack with open and closed in a sandwich (like a Dagwood). The benefit of free tools is it levels the playing field, opens the game to many more talented players.

The reason economists needn't worry is there's still good old fashioned competition and the ability to keep trade secrets (secret sauces). A typical business will carve out a niche in some coral reef, e.g. Python + SQL + Django (a turf I'm familiar with), then value-add in some proprietary direction, or maybe it's just the data that's private (medical records, bank accounts, whatever transactions). The government, like IBM, like MIT, pumps new wealth into the commons, plus has its own way of keeping secrets.

The idea of governments contributing to open source projects, especially those aimed at internationalization, i.e. opening up the interfaces to local languages, keeping a distro nurturing to a nation's children, is not all that new. This ability to build some core icons into the GUI is what will help young citizens begin to learn their way about vis-a-vis their government sponsors and services.

Faculties will be assisted in forging those voluntarily alliances with agencies reaching out to assist, not just with dollars, but with state of the art teaching materials. Recruiting begins early, a high level of civic-mindedness becomes taken for granted.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Physics Update

The physics community has long dreamed of games atop physics engines, with a lot of those coming true, as in Spore and Uru. The importance of storytelling, not just particles dashing about, was singled out by Thomas Malone, a cognitive psychologist writing in BYTE magazine back in 1981 (see endnote). His theories of intrinsic motivation aimed to explain why computer games are fun, if they're fun. One of the guidelines: include lots of hidden info, make it a treasure hunt of some kind.

Our marketing is moving towards an "adds spice" message, in relation to a boringly bland diet of all XYZ all the time. It's not "teach the controversy" as the "intelligent design" people counseled, but "share the stage" i.e. we get equal time for our puppets, or at least a bigger slice of the programming pie than today, wherein few have ever heard of the great rhombicosidodecahedron (too big for Big Bird's little brain, let alone Bert's), and wherein our "arrowhead geometry" is considered strictly out of bounds, too NC-17 for any high school geometry classes (so call it geography then?).

My sense is the physics community isn't as stuck in the mud as the mathematicians and will have no problems with our slight variants on the Newtonian themes. Saying all linear momentum is angular momentum really makes no difference if your orbits are long enough, and all that matters since Einstein is "geodesic" in any case, the shape of space being described by accelerations (world lines), not any "instant, simultaneously everywhere, XYZ grid" (relative to which observer again?). These subtleties aren't enough to matter, 99% of the time. Mostly we all just want to teach the same old same old as best as we're able: how to live long and prosper while remaining worthy of such a fine planet.

Endnote: Malone, T.W., What makes computer games fun? Byte, 1981, 6, 258-277 (Reprinted in Computers in Education (U.K.), 1982, 4, 14-21; and in D. Peterson (Ed.), Intelligent Schoolhouse. Reston, VA: Reston Publishing Co. (Prentice-Hall), 1984. Abbreviated version reprinted as: Guidelines for designing educational computer programs, Childhood Education, 1983, 59, 241-247.)


Monday, January 05, 2009

Philanthropic Arcade Games

Vendor Games
Excerpt from a recent post to Quaker-P (Jan 3, 2009):

Buy stuff from the LCD menu, get tokens per vendor-sponsored games, and commit to various charities (could be competitive i.e. you keep some of the money yourself if you're a strong player, but if you lose you know it's to a good cause of your choosing e.g. Friends Peace Teams (depends on the shop, its selection of vendors, what your choices might be)).

Of course the cynics are saying we're just doing this to take the edge off casino gambling, removing the stigma. A percentage of winnings funneled through a "public switchboard" seems like even more direct control than we get over our taxes (like sales taxes), how they're spent by non-transparent legislatures (where are their billboard-sized displays?).

Here you get to commit some casino profits yourself through another colorful game i.e. here's one more reason to stick around and play the slots, feeling good about yourself and your legacy (more salmon!). But that's just one application. No one says your CP [Cafe Philanthropique] has to be anywhere near such a place, might be in Cape Town.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Manifest Destiny

Quoting Publisher's Weekly:
Raymond Cross is a Yale-educated attorney and the youngest son of Martin Cross, an American Indian tribal chairman who spent the bulk of his life fighting a losing battle against the construction of a post–WWII dam near the upper Missouri River that would forcibly remove hundreds of families from their ancestral lands. VanDevelder's exhaustively researched book uses the Cross family story — and Raymond Cross's eventual transformation into Coyote Warrior, the term given to a growing group of Ivy League–trained lawyers working on American Indian rights issues — to help trace the century-long struggle of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara tribes to protect their North Dakota homelands.