Fond du Lac Follies

Hibernating Corvette, and teaching Ojibwe to a Ho Chunk/Dakota grandchild

By Jim Northrup

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Courtesy of Jim

Jim's rez car, won by his wife a few years
ago at the local casino.


he Corvette is hibernating; I won't drive it for at least 60 days. In the meantime I am buying parts that I will put on it as soon as it warms up a little.


I bask in the warmth of living with an extended family here in this little village of Sawyer. I have brothers and sisters, aunties and uncles living close by. I see at least one cousin every time I go to the store or the casino. And we always have a grandchild or two visiting.

The current visitor is called Bundles, sometimes Buns but very rarely Bunny. He is all of three feet high and takes the stairs one foot at a time. He can feed himself with a spoon; I noticed that this morning when we were eating our oatmeal together. He carries a stuffed dog for security and lets me hold it occasionally.

He was acting kind of whiny one evening. I suppose he missed being home. I told him to bring his dog over and lay down on the couch next to me. He did and was asleep within two minutes. I carried him to his bed, he slept, still clutching his stuffed dog named Doggie.

One morning he surprised me when he walked over and turned on the television. My house is full of the music of Sesame Street, Barney, Teletubbies, and Mr. Rogers every day.


Bundles is on the verge of talking so I am teaching him some Ojibwe words. He says Boozhoo when greeting someone. He has trouble with giga-waabamin however. When I say zoogipoon and point at the falling snow he says boon. He says boogid especially clear.

Won't it be funny when he returns to his Ho Chunk and Dakota parents and speaks Ojibwe to them?

My son Joe brings his son Joe and daughter Sarice to visit every couple of days. Joe, at age four, is the old one of the family. When someone asks if he has a job he says he takes care of his sister, goes to school and goes for walks with his grampa. Sarice is just beginning the crawling stage of her life. She has large expressive eyes and when my sister Nancy saw them she said that little girl could see everything.

Today the grandchildren will play with each other.

What joy the young ones bring to this extended family. I am blessed.


Our Ojibwe language classes are going great. We usually have a dozen people who come to eat and learn. The doings are held at the Cloquet Community Center on Thursday nights. We pray and begin to eat at about 5:00 pm, (1700 hours to you military types) and after a certain point our teacher, Dan Jones, announces, "Gego zhaaganaashimoken." (don't use English) For the next hour or so the conversations are all in Ojibwe.

Dan keeps the conversation flowing by asking questions like, "Aabitoose ina noongom?" Someone in the class answers: "Gaawiin giiaabitoose bijiinaago, niiyo-giizhigad noongom, wiinaano-giizhigad waabang." Dan also asks us to tell our names in Ojibwe and English, what is our clan and where are we from. I like this new way of learning and I wish more Fonjalackers would be interested in learning their language. There are a lot of Fonjalackers around when the per capita payments come out on the 15th. I think there is a lot more to being Anishinaabe than just collecting and spending the money generated by gambling.


If you can read this you will know I survived that annual craziness called Christmas. I could give Scrooge Scrooge lessons.

Every year I sit back and watch the foolishness. Somehow I don't feel compelled to go shopping but I do glue myself to the TV to watch the stampedes of shoppers as they yell…Charge!when the stores open the day after Thanksgiving. It gets sillier every year. Now I learn it isn't politically correct to say Merry Christmas, instead we are supposed to say Happy Holidays. Who decides this stuff? Do we have a Department of Homeland Silly?

Once again this year I won't have to take Christmas lights down because I didn't put any up. Bah Humbug.


I have been trying to avoid writing about the war in Iraq but it is impossible. As a former grunt in the Vietnam War I am very interested in what happens to the troops there. The question still remains from the first Gulf War. How can we support the troops without encouraging the war makers?

I don't remember ever pledging allegiance to Halliburton, George Bush, Don Rumsfeld or Karl Rove...

The reasons given for starting the war were bogus, the intelligence was flawed and good people are dying almost daily.

America…are you ready for the veterans to come home from this war?

About the author
The views expressed in this column belong to the writer alone. They are not meant to represent this newspaper, this Reservation or my cousin Rathide. Comments and bingo packs can be sent to FdL Follies, PO Box 16, Sawyer, MN 55780-0016. email…northrup@cp.Duluth.mn.us web page…www.hanksville.org/storytellers/northrup/ or www.jimnorthrup.org

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