Fond du Lac Follies


_northrup_cover_mug_small.jpgOur 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

involved also.

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

Facebook name Jim Northrup but not on Twitter.