April 12, 1937 — Dennis Banks born

The co-founder of the American Indian Movement – a major ‘Red Power’ group in the civil rights struggles of native Americans – Dennis Banks was born in the Leech Lake Indian Reservation in Minnesota. Dennis Banks, of course, was simply his white name – in the Ojibwe language of his people, the Anishinaabe, was Nowa Cumig (which means ‘centre of the universe’).

As a leader of the American Indian Movement, he participated in numerous protests and demonstrations, often clashing with the law and even getting convicted a few times. In recent years, he has been a leader of the annual Sacred Run movement and served as a member of the Board of Trustees for Leech Lake Tribal College, a college with a primarily native American student body.

July 2, 1937 — Amelia Earhart makes her last radio transmission

At 8:43am local time, the last radio transmission definitely from Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan was received at Howland Island, Earhart’s intended destination that day.

Problematic conditions had led to the pair relying on radio navigation, but their radio contacts were sporadic and patchy. Although later transmissions were received, they were too weak to get a fix on or properly interpret. The two were never heard from again, and their plane’s wreckage has never been located. There are a number of theories regarding their disappearance, but the lack of crash evidence tends to support the idea that they crashed at sea and sank.

July 5, 1937 — Spam is first released

Spam didn’t used to have anything to do with enlarging your penis or getting cheap medicines of dubious quality.

It was originally the name of a certain kind of meat, although the ‘dubious quality’ part is well-enshrined in urban legend – known backronyms devised for it include “Something Posing As Meat”, “Stuff, Pork and Ham” and “Spare Parts Animal Meat.” Oddly enough, Spam wasn’t even the original name of the product – it was introduced because the previous name – Hormal Spiced Ham – was losing market share.

It wasn’t until Monty Python and Joel Furr got involved years later that the word assumed its modern meaning.

By the way: according to Hormel’s trademark guidelines, Spam should be spelled with all capital letters and treated as an adjective, as in the phrase “SPAM luncheon meat” – strange but true.