Fond du Lac Follies


Fond du Lac Follies motored to LCO Tribal College in Hayward, Wisconsin. I had been invited there because the Indian Literature class was using my first book, Walking The Rez Road, in their studies. What an honor I thought, someone cared enough about my writing to actually study how I use words to tell my stories.

It has been several years since I last visited LCO Tribal College and I could see the changes because of the new buildings. I stopped in the library for directions and could see how that part of the college had improved. I also noticed how cheerful the people were.

The students and some faculty members were a good audience when I read

and recited poetry. They asked many astute questions at the end of my

presentation. I asked the students if they could name any Anishinaabe

authors. It was quiet for a while until one student began naming ten of

them. I led the applause for her.

Of course I motored there in the ‘64 Corvette. It looked like one of my

last runs before the salted roads shut me down for the year. The big

motor roared a song to my ears all the way there and back.

**** Our dog, Oscar Myer Weiner Dog, was born in April and came to live

with us in June. He is a healthy active dog who brings smiles to the

faces that live here and on the human faces that visit. He eats good,

puppy food only. As a result he is growing, but this is an unusual dog

– he doesn’t grow up, he grows longer. I think he is tall as he is

going to be but I don’t know how long he will grow.

I have never had a dog that grows horizontally and not vertically.

Oscar understands the Ojibwe words ambe omaa, agwajiing, nibaan, gego,

bizaan and we are working on bekaa.  

Oscar Myer, Mayer, Meyer (spelling varies) Weiner Dog goes through the

same routine every time he comes in the house. It is the same whether

he has been outside ten minutes or two hours. He runs around in circles

rapidly, making squealing noises as if he is happy to be inside. He

jumps up into the easy chair then jumps down, along the way he picks up

one of his chew toys and continues running around. His feet noises

sounds like a big German Shepherd. The routine ends when he jumps up on

an easy chair to sleep.   

He has been to the vet twice for his shots and the vet announces he is

healthy with a fine sheen to his coat.  Unlike some pet owners we don’t

identify him as a boy dog. He is a male dog and will never grow up to

be a little man. He is a dog dog, not a surrogate child.

My wife reports that so far he has chewed up four pair of shoes and two

pair of slippers. He especially likes brain tanned deer hides. We hope

he doesn’t end up as a Great Horned Owl Happy Meal.

**** The newspapers and televison news tells me about three people

dying in a sweat lodge in Sedona, Arizona.  A culture vulture held his

sweat in a plastic tarp covered structure. I offer my condolences to

the families of the three victims.

**** I have watched some television sports lately. One thing I have

noticed is how many baseball and football players and coaches spit on

the ground.  Ish. When I was growing up TB hit the Indian community

hard. If you went to just about any house you could find someone in bed

suffering from the disease. Or maybe they were away at a TB San,

sometimes for years of bed rest, or medicines.

My dad, Bope, lost half a lung to the disease at the San called

Nopeming near Duluth. My sister Judy and I went to the one at Walker,

Minnesota called Agwajiing. I was probably about four years old, young

enough to be sleeping in a big crib. As I recall my therapy consisted

of playing in a sandbox outside in the sun.

One of the harshest rules in the San was no spitting, another was to

cover coughs and sneezes. Some sixty years later I still follow those

rules.  So, what message are these professional athletes giving us? It

is okay to spit on the ground, nookomisinaan, if you are on TV?

One would think they would be more careful in these days of flu, swine

flu and other airborne diseases. I wouldn’t want to be the guy who has

to clean the bullpen or sidelines after these guys have been spitting

for a couple of hours. Ish. Mii iwMii sa iw.