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.
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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 Ď64 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 doesnít grow up, he grows longer. I think he is tall as he is
going to be but I donít 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 donít
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 doesnít 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 wouldnít 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.