Chief, Actor, Dancer, Rodeo Cowboy, Musician, War Hero, Father, Baseball Player: David William Beautiful Bald Eagle Jr. Dies Aged 97

Chief, Actor, Dancer, Rodeo Cowboy, Musician, War Hero, Father, Baseball Player: David William Beautiful Bald Eagle Jr. Dies Aged 97

Last Friday Chief David  William Beautiful Bald Eagle Jr., a long standing representative of South Dakota’s Lakota people, died on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation aged 97.

Bald Eagle was at his home when he passed away last Friday, a traditional four-day wake began in his home on the following Monday.

Born in 1919 on the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Reservation, David William Bald Eagle, as the BBC reports, could not be a U.S. citizen until he was 5 – when America finally extended citizenship to indigenous people.

Bald Eagle — whose full Lakota name translates to Wounded in Winter Beautiful Bald Eagle, led a long and extraordinary life; he was a champion dancer — both ballroom and Lakota styles — a touring musician, a rodeo cowboy, a tribal chief, an actor, a stunt double, a war hero during World War Two.

He danced with Marilyn Monroe, drove race cars, played professional baseball and was a leader not only of his tribe but also made great contribution to the preservation of Lakota stories. In 2001 he was elected Chief of the United Native Nations as an advocate for indigenous people worldwide which he took on alongside his continued work in conflict resolution across the United States.

David William married an English dance teacher named Penny Rathburn. As a couple they were champion competitive ballroom dancers. Penny was pregnant with their first child when she died in a car crash. Following a lengthy period of devastation, in 1958 Bald Eagle married Josee Kesteman, a young Belgian actress he met by chance as part of a rodeo display team travelling to the World’s Fair in Brussels. Together they raised a large family, one that grew larger as they adopted many children, several of whom have served in the military like their father.

David William Bald Eagle appeared in over 40 Hollywood films as well as training numerous Hollywood actors. And at the age of 95, he had his first lead role starring in the independent film ‘Neither Wolf Nor Dog’ which premiered at Edinburgh Film Festival

Sonny Skyhawk, a member of the Sicangu Lakota Nation who has been a film actor for nearly four decades too, says it’s nearly impossible to find the words to describe him.

“He was a short man in stature but he was immeasurable in what he has done for his fellow man and for his native people,” Skyhawk says.

“If I had to describe, him I’d say tatanka, which is the Lakota word for buffalo. And the male buffalo in the course of a storm, a blizzard, will stand there and face it head-on. He won’t lie down and he won’t hide behind anything. That’s what this man did: he faced everything with integrity and everything that he had in his own heart.

“And it would have taken a big heart.”


Sources: NPR, BBC, MIA.MK and the obituary which can be read here

Read more about the tribes of the Lakota Tribes in our article here

The Airbnb Bubble: Boom or Bust?

The Airbnb Bubble: Boom or Bust?

Airbnb is undoubtedly one of the most successful stories of a digital industry ‘disrupter’ to quite literally erupt in the last decade. The marketplace has been overwhelmed with the launch of apps such as Netflix in the home entertainment arena; Skype and WhatsApp in telecoms and of course Uber the taxi app. All these applications are about big data, convenience, personalisation and transparency. The buzz words associated with them are ones you are most probably familiar with: smartphones, the cloud, access as opposed to ownership, and scaling up potential. They also have a certain sense of ubiquity, by reformulating a familiar activity, say the trip to your local video store to rent a film, once the technology is adapted, and it’s hard to imagine our lives without the new, improved service.

Context specific service is at the heart of these innovations – as the Airbnb start up story / mythology illustrates so perfectly. In 2007, designers Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia couldn’t afford the rent on their San Francisco apartment and decided to turn their loft into a lodging space, but, as Gebbia explains, “We didn’t want to post on Craigslist because we felt it was too impersonal. Our entrepreneur instinct said ‘build your own site.’ So we did.” And from there sprang a lifestyle focussed accommodation rental site, enabling folks all over the world to rent out a spare room or their whole property to visitors keen to connect with accommodation options other than the traditional hotel type offerings. It wasn’t long before hoteliers were quaking in their boots and the exponential growth of uptake on the Airbnb way of life means there is unlikely to be any respite for the flailing industry.

Fast forward to 2014 and the platform had 10 million guests and 550,000 properties listed worldwide, along with a $10B valuation—making Airbnb worth more than legacy players like Wyndham and Hyatt.

In March of this year, to signal a true coming-of-age, Airbnb won a contract to provide a reported 20,000 rooms for this year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Rio de Janeiro, Creative Commons/JorgeBRAZIL

Rio de Janeiro, Creative Commons/JorgeBRAZIL

Already operating in 191 countries and 34,000 cities, financial services analysts predict that by 2020, Airbnb hosts will be taking 500 million bookings a night, rising to one billion by 2025.

In the UK, more than three million people have used the site, while 52,500 people have opened their homes to strangers. A typical host can expect to earn £2,000 in return for renting out a room for 46 nights a year.

Recently, Airbnb executive Jonathan Mildenhall told Adweek that their latest advertising campaign reflects a growing “demand for experiences that are not like the typical tourist experiences that actually more reflect what it’s like to live in local places.”

Ian Wright Iran

Ian Wright hanging out with a family in Iran

With every boom, a bust is often close behind, lurking in the form of competition, tighter regulations or the unexpected affects of success.

The Harvard Business Review calls it Airbnb’s “existential crisis”, visitors get new experiences and bring in money, but as their numbers grow, they “erode the very atmosphere in which they bask and threaten the liveability of the city for residents.”

Only last week, Mark Tanzer, Chief Executive of the Association of British Travel Agents, warned that the popularity of companies such as Airbnb was leading to such an influx of visitors that there was a danger that some of Europe’s most attractive historic cities would be ruined. “If they can’t get around the city you are going to lose value from tourism, even if the numbers are going up,” he said. “Overcrowding in key destinations is becoming a pressing issue. Without controls, we know tourism can kill tourism.”

Even smaller communities are experiencing problems of scale when it comes to Airbnb. Joshua Tree is a tiny town of 7,000 people on the edge of the Joshua Tree National Park in California. It has over 200 available Airbnb rentals. Resident Christine Pfranger observes that “locals are having difficulty finding homes to rent, and are being pushed out of their homes to make way for more vacation rentals.” Another resident adds, “Airbnb and vacation rentals are changing our community…House prices are going up because people now buy houses to rent out as vacation rentals, making it close to impossible for people working in the area to buy a house.”

These Victorian rowhouses are in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco, California

These Victorian rowhouses are in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco, California

There are indications that cities are resisting. For instance, the mayors of 10 major markets around the globe are implementing task forces to formulate a united response to the problems adoption of the Airbnb app brings about. Meanwhile, in their hometown of San Francisco, in February 2015, a new rule required Airbnb hosts to register with the city. However, over a year later only about a fifth have done so resulting in the city holding Airbnb accountable for its hosts by imposing a fine on the company of $1,000 per day for each unregistered listing that the city can discover. Of course Airbnb are fighting back by suing the city and they may well win. But this raises the question of what Airbnb’s responsibilities are, if any, to the places their brand appeal of “living like a local” is taken up with most vigour?

It’s an interesting bind Airbnb are now faced with. Hardly the victims of success, far from it, demand for Airbnb signals only growth. Rather, it is the very complex position of facing the beast of accelerated tourism they have unleashed and are now yoked inextricably to.

World War I Commemorated: “We’re here because we’re here”

World War I Commemorated: "We're here because we're here"

This weekend, volunteers took part in an artwork installed across the UK to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of the Somme. The piece was conceived by Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller and the National Theatre’s Rufus Norris – the latest commission from 14-18 Now.

 “We’re here because we’re here” involved thousands of soldiers dressed in First World War uniforms appeared unexpectedly in towns and cities across the UK as part of a live public memorial on an unprecedented scale. The project marked the centenary of the Battle of the Somme during World War I, fought by the armies of the British and French empires against the German Empire.

Our team researched an in-depth guide to the causes of World War I exploring the debates as to what actually caused the war which you can read here.

Also be sure to check out Zay Harding in this Globe Trekker Special as he travels across Northern France and Belgium, visiting key World War 1 locations on the Western Front.worldwar1-3








Main image credit: ‘we’re here because we’e here’ conceived and created by Jeremy Deller in collaboration with Rufus Norris, photo by Eoin Carey

A Strawberry Affair

A Strawberry Affair
Welcome to the summer solstice, the longest day of the year when there are approximately 17 hours of light. The name comes from the Latin solstitium meaning “sun stands still” and happens because the sun stops heading north at the Tropic of Cancer and then returns back southwards.


In the northern hemisphere this means the days begin to get shorter. But 2016 is a special year, because the solstice coincides with the Strawberry Moon, a once or twice-in-a-lifetime occurence. This particular full moon, which occurs in June, was named by the tribes indigenous to America and the harvesting of strawberries in June gives that months moon its name.


Europeans have dubbed it the rose moon, while other cultures named it the hot moon for the beginning of the summer heat. The two events coincide once every 70 years.


Hope your view of the moon is clear tonight – remember to look up!


The main image pictured is: “Blue Canyon Moon (5020077179)” by John Fowler from Placitas, NM, USA – Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons – sourced via

Nautically Yours, Ian’s Photo Diary from Norway, Part 3

Nautically Yours, Ian's Photo Diary from Norway, Part 3

Ian’s adventure’s on the high seas have also been chance for some sketching…and the results are impressive, even moreso considering the wavy days!



Nautically Yours, Ian’s Photo Diary from Norway, Part 2

Nautically Yours, Ian's Photo Diary from Norway, Part 2

As our Ian sails across the high seas of Norway, in a variety of vessels, filming for the brand new series, Tough Boats, he has sent across his second photo diary update!

Plus you can read our destination guide to Norway which features plenty if information on this striking country.


Nautically Yours, Ian’s Photo Diary from Norway, Part 1

Nautically Yours, Ian's Photo Diary from Norway, Part 1

Ian has been on the road, or rather, travelling the seas in a variety of vessels, in the northern reaches of Norway, filming for the all new Tough Boats series. Between takes, Ian has been sketching, filming and snapping and holding on to his hat on the high seas!

And if Norway takes your fancy you can check out our Oslo to Bergan programme here


To the cat cafés and beyond!

To the cat cafés and beyond!

Looking for portals into other cultures is a chance to unearth fascinating insights and perspectives, and if you get lucky, they may well be of the weirdly wonderful variety.

A couple of weeks ago a press release announcing the opening of a hedgehog café in Tokyo caught my eye. Adorable tiny, prickly creatures with pointy pink noses were filmed being held in the palms of cafe customers who pay around $12 for the experience. I had heard of cat cafés, sure, even Shoshanna, the best loved character from television series Girls, worked at a neko kafe in the latest series. But hedgehogs? And if there were hedgehogs cafés surely there were other animal cafés – what other parts of this phenomenon had I missed out on? It turned out, quite a lot.


Shoshana and the cats, Season 5, Girls.

Alongside cats and hedgehogs, you can sip your matcha latté whilst stroking slobbering dogs, fluffy rabbits, goats, owls (no stroking these guys – it stresses them out), parrots, slithery snakes and even penguins…penguins? Putting aside  contentious issues surrounding animal cruelty, it’s an interesting concept merging elements of anti-stress therapy, education and the super on-trend experiential consumerism so desired within the tightly-packed, synthetic led, urban environments.

Cafe Baron

Cafe Baron

Animals twisted and twined with spirits conjoining into demons that appear across Japanese mythology and folklore such as Bake-kujira – an apparition from western Japan taking the form of a large ghostly skeleton whale said to be accompanied by strange birds and fish, or Akabeko, a legendary cow from the Aizu region of Japan, who inspired a traditional toy. Aizu legend claims that the toys are based on a real cow used to build the Enzō-ji temple in the ninth century. All these creatures wind their way into the popular anime exports we know and love in the ‘West’: think Hello Kitty, Pikachu from the Pokemon series, Catbus aka Nekobasu and Totoru himself in My Neighbour Totoru.

Catbus or Nekobasu in My Neighbour Totoro.

Catbus or Nekobasu in My Neighbour Totoro.

Ubiquitous animals such as the humble cat are elevated to dreamlike status; the Studio Ghibli classic short animation, The Cat Returns is brought to life on the island of Tashirojima, inhabited by only a hundred people, stray cats in their thousands roaming around, living in tribes, fed and cared for by the locals who believe it brings good fortune. On the island of Miyajima, deer wander freely through the streets and parks. The spot has long been considered a holy place for much of Japanese history. In 806 AD, the monk Kōbō Daishi ascended Mt. Misen and established the mountain on Miyajima as an ascetic site for the Shingon sect of Buddhism.

Japanese Sika Deer at Miyajima by Richard Fisher creative commons license

Japanese Sika Deer at Miyajima by Richard Fisher creative commons license

Animals inhabiting our virtual imaginations has been handled with a peculiar grace by Japanese designers. Back in 1966 when the infamously awesome virtual pet simulation game, Tamagotchi, hit the market they were an instant hit around the world – by 2010, 76 million had been sold. More recently, Paro, the interactive robo-seal, was introduced to the pet therapy market. It has found its place in elderly care homes where the tactile toys offer emotional connection to make up for the shortfall of human comfort, presently unable to fill the demand required by an ageing population. Inventor Takanori Shibata says he designed Paro to evoke memories of pets and babies. Powering it are two 32-bit processors, three microphones, 12 tactile sensors covering most of its fur, touch-sensitive whiskers and a system of motors that silently move its parts. It weighs about 6 pounds, feels warm and sucks on a pacifier-like charger.


Paro the seal at with a patient in a nursing home.

This seems like a good place for to pause and reflect on how virtual and physical experiences merge and mingle through our ever expanding desire to connect.

Check out Megan when she visited Central Japan

Plus our Tokyo to Taiwan guide

And there’s plenty more on Japan to explore throughout the site!


A Life Well Lived: Medicine Crow

A Life Well Lived: Medicine Crow

Joseph Medicine Crow, a Native American historian and the last war chief of the Crow Tribe of Montana died this week on April 3, aged 102.

Medicine Crow, pictured here, at a ceremony to award him Presidential Medal of Freedom, shows a drum during a reception for recipients and their families in the Blue Room of the White House on Aug. 12, 2009.

Medicine Crow, pictured here, at a ceremony to award him Presidential Medal of Freedom, shows a drum during a reception for recipients and their families in the Blue Room of the White House on Aug. 12, 2009.

Over the long course of Medicine Crow’s life, among many he was a father, a warrior, a solider, a writer, an anthropologist, and an activist.

The Crow, called the Apsáalooke in their own Siouan language, or variants such as Absaroka, are Native or indigenous Americans, from the Yellowstone River valley which extends from what is today Wyoming, through Montana and into North Dakota, where it joins the Missouri River. They are enrolled in the federally recognized Crow Tribe of Montana.

The Crow Tribe name given to Medicine Crow was High Bird. A member of the Crow Tribe’s Whistling Water clan, Medicine Crow was raised by his grandparents in a rural area of the Crow Reservation near Lodge Grass, Montana.

His grandfather, Yellowtail, raised Medicine Crow to be a warrior, training Medicine Crow from when was just 7 with a rigorous physical regimen that included running barefoot in the snow to toughen his young feet and spirit.  Crow tradition required, that in order for a man to become chief, he had to command a war party, enter an enemy camp at night and steal a horse, wrestle a weapon away from his enemy and touch the first enemy fallen, without killing him.

The conditions of the tradition were in fact fulfilled by Medicine Crow during World War II where, on the battlefield, he earned the title of War Chief after performing a series of daring deeds, including stealing 50 Nazi SS horses from an enemy encampment and hand-to-hand combat with a German soldier whose life he ultimately spared.

Despite serving in a war dominated by automatic weapons, heavy artillery, and tanks armed with 88mm cannons, Medicine Crow held on to the time-honored practices of his tribe, always wearing bright red war paint into combat, strapping a sacred yellow-painted eagle feather to his helmet for good luck:

“Warfare was our highest art, but Plains Indian warfare was not about killing. It was about intelligence, leadership, and honor,” Medicine Crow wrote in Counting Coup, one the many books he published over the course of his lifetime.

The Associated Press reports, Medicine Crow became the official historian for the Crow Tribe shortly after returning from service in World War II. The news service adds:

“Yet Medicine Crow also embraced the changes that came with the settling of the West, and he worked to bridge his people’s cultural traditions with the opportunities of modern society.”

He was the first member of his tribe to earn a master’s degree in Anthropology and went on to receive several honorary doctorates. For decades he served as a Crow historian, cataloging his people’s nomadic history by collecting firsthand narrative accounts of pre-reservation life from fellow tribal members.

He was also a living link to the 1876 Battle of the Little Bighorn, and was the last person alive to receive direct oral testimony from a participant in the Battle of the Little Bighorn: his grandmother’s brother, White Man Runs Him, a scout for Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer.

“With his prodigious memory, Medicine Crow could accurately recall decades later the names, dates and exploits from the oral history he was exposed to as a child,” says Herman Viola, Curator emeritus at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American Indians.

In the years leading to his death, Medicine Crow continued to live with his family in Lodge Grass. His wife died in 2009. Even after his hearing and eyesight faded, Medicine Crow continued to lecture into his 90’s on the Battle of Little Bighorn and other major events of Crow history.

“Joe was a true American hero,” says Darren Old Coyote, chairman of the Crow tribe. “He was a great man in two worlds.”

Main image: Delegation of Crow Chiefs Delegation of Important Crow chiefs 1880. From left to right: Old-Crow Medicine Crow, Long-Elk, Plenty-Coups, Pretty-Eagle.

Read more:

The Lakota tribes of the Great Plains

The Battle of Little Big Horn


Calling Globe Trekker Kids

Calling Globe Trekker Kids

You are never too young to hit the road.

Check out this lively little dispatch from Istanbul courtesy of  9 year old Olivia Fanders, filmed and sent to us by her mum, Kelly, on their global tour for Shrek the Musical.

Watch this space for further episodes and check out Kelly’s blog at