Our friend Cheryl Gresczyk died. She
was the wife of Rick Gresczyk. Our family watched as she fought her
illnesses with dignity and courage. Cheryl, you will be missed by
everyone in this household. We were saddened by your leaving but were
glad that your pain is now over.
Fond du Lac Follies motored nowhere.
That’s right, we just stayed in Sawyer so we could hold the Kiwenz
Language Camp for the sixth year in a row. Event organizers, Rick
Greczyk, my brother, Pat Northrup, my wife and I had been planning
the event for months. Kiwenz Campground was prepared for the campers.
The grass was cut and the existing waaginoganan were repaired by Jim
Northrup, III and Leroy Brown Bull. People from Mashkawizen helped in
this part of the preparations. We have a long list of other people
and organizations that helped us make the camp happen. Those names
will be at the bottom of the column.
We wanted to provide a true northern
Minnesota experience for the campers so all mosquitoes within a mile
radius were invited also. We thought the mosquitoes were tired of our
old Sawyer Indian blood and were anxious to taste new blood from the
Cities and elsewhere.
Some campers were worried the language
camp wouldn’t happen because of the fog and rain. We assured them
that the old people used Ojibwemowin whether it was raining or not.
We would too.
Rick had arranged for the cadre of
fluent speakers that would help with the language learning. These
speakers were Meg Noodin and Mike Zimmerman, Leonard and Mary Moose,
Rick Gresczyk and son, Randy Gresczyk, Memengwa and Mary were the
language helpers. The campers learned Ojibwemowin in the mornings
while the afternoons were devoted to Ojibwe arts.
With the assistance of Mi-zi-way
Desjarlait and the Circle of Generations drum, round dances were
randomly held. Frank Montano loaned his Public Address System to the
language camp, that kept people from trying to holler across the
The artists who came to teach their
parts of the culture were: Charlie Nahganub-manoomin knockers, Misco
Benayshii-moccasins, Theresa Morrison-beading, Frank Montano-cedar
flutes, Rocky Makes Room-quill work, Joe Rordak-birch bark canoe
models, and I taught birch bark basket making. Other artists were
Dr. Arnie Vainio, MD, became known as
the Science Dude to some of the children, he came to show some fun
science facts to the assembled Anishinaabe. I believe he was hoping
to spark an interest in science among the young ones.
On Friday we had a talent show and a
mini powwow. Digger DeRusha, Frank Montano and Jake Vainio provided
the guitar and mandolin picking, others used a hand drum with their
I call it a mini powwow because there
were no royalty or contest numbers on the dancers. There was a pretty
good entry but I wouldn’t call it grand, maybe half a grand. We also
had a potato dance and a game of musical chairs. There was much
laughter at Kiwenz Campground.
Hope Flannigan led the nature walk
where the campers learned some useful plants and their names in
English and Ojibwe.
Saturday we held the canoe races in
Big Lake. This is one of the most anticipated lake activities, I
believe. There were two categories, below 16 and above 16. I wanted
them to have an over 71 category but I was advised I might be the
only one in that race. I said "Yeah, what’s your point? A win is
still a win."
Pete and Bimbo provided the rescue
boat services. We know it is very rare for people to tip their canoes
and fall in but we wanted to be prepared.
I decided against listing all the
people who helped us, the list is quite long and their were many
individuals who were not part of an organization. So, for those
people I say Apii ji go miigwech. To those who helped clean up the
Kiwenz Campground at the end I will say see you next year.
Next month will be the last Fond du
Lac Follies I write, it will be 25 years since I started. I have had
much fun with it over the years. One year back when I first started
an irate group wrote a letter and signed a petition saying I wrote a
joke they didn’t like. Another year a Rez Politician said I wrote
something untrue. I got a newspaper and went over my column line by
line. Everything I wrote was true. After he was done whining I told
him Mike Hazard was making a movie about me. I showed the RBC man my
microphone and pointed out the camera. He left.
We are happy to announce the birth of
Jim Northrup V.
The Views expressed in this column
belong to the writer alone. They are not meant to represent this
newspaper, the Reservation, Eric Snowden, This Reservation Business
Committee, FdL Construction, the CIA, the BIA, those folks
administrating the Cobell, or anyone else.
Comments and bingo packs (in 25
years of begging I never got one) can be sent to FdL Follies, PO Box
16, Sawyer, MN 55780-0016 email firstname.lastname@example.org
Facebook name Jim Northrup but not on Twitter.