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Follies September
Thursday, October 14 2010
 
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On a weekend in August we celebrated the 32nd Annual Sobriety powwow at Mashkawisen here in Sawyer. We celebrated by putting up our Free Coffee For Veterans shelter. Once again we thanked those who served.  We visited with old veterans. This time we talked about how we were able to find good doctors as we used to talk about finding good womens.
We also celebrated the 33rd Anniversary of the Free Beer Rock Concert that was held in the same place. The band Whiskey River performed on a truck trailer. In front of them were cattle troughs of ice and beer. Some came for the music, some came for the beer. As I recall, we had a pretty good time.
Then that place became a treatment center for alcohol and drugs. In years past we used to have a food stand for those visitors who came to the powwow. We called it Stand Here. The cost for the vending permit to sell food began creeping up over the years and it crept right out of our reach. The last I heard it was 300 bucks for a food stand. My fry bread maker said it was too much work for such a small return so we got out of the food stand business and just became spectators. That was a lot easier.
We had the usual elements of a successful powwow. We had drums and singers. We had portable powwow toilets. The dancers wore their colorful dance outfits, there were no two alike. The Arena Director controlled the chaos and the MC tried to keep the crowd entertained, sometimes he succeeded.
There were 50/50 raffles and someone saw an eagle over Big Lake. The volunteers kept the grounds clean; they were armed with claw-like devices for picking up the trash, The Fond du Lac Police Department patrolled, as did the Game Wardens. I guess they were looking for human trash.
As for us, we just visited a lot with friends and family. Now we can begin the countdown for next year’s 33rd Annual Sobriety powwow and the 34th Anniversary of the Free Beer Rock Concert.
As a brown-skinned Anishinaabe I have decided to stay out of Arizona, sorry Phoenix, sorry Grand Canyon.  I don’t want to prove I am legal to those guys with the guns and tasers. It is now the United States of America minus one. As one of the originals on this continent I suppose it is too late to tighten up our immigration policy. I can’t help feeling there are a lot of ‘illegal aliens’ here now, and most of them don’t have brown skin like our Indio brothers and sisters from the south.
Once again the words of Mitch Walking Elk’s song echo in my ears.  “And when they want what we got they just change the laws.” Do we have to worry that the laws will change to make all brown skinned people illegal? I have an idea, Arizona Officials, you could save time at the checkpoints by placing a tattoo on the inside of the arm, maybe a number of some sort? A number for those who are here legally.
I wanted to check the manoomin in one of my secret spots. I chose to show my nephew that spot so he could claim it as his secret spots when I am gone. Kris was raised in the City, he finally returned home a few years back. Now the family has to Indian-ize him, teach him what he should have learned when he was younger.
We launched the canoe on a river that was eastsouthwestnorth of the Rez. I showed Kris a few things about paddling. When I heard the clunk of the paddle hitting the canoe I reminded him we don’t do that. The river had a clear channel down the middle and manoomin beds along each bank. The beds went on for more than a mile. The river smelled just river-ry. The blue sky was broken up by white puffy clouds traveling east with the wind.
We paddled downstream with the current. The turtles on the rocks and deadhead logs slid in the water as we approached. A blue heron flew down the river with majestic sweeps of his wings. The manoomin invited us over for a closer look. The plants were growing real close together.
For our return to the landing we didn’t paddle much, we let the wind blow us home. I dipped a paddle occasionally to steer and to keep us from getting sideways in the wind. So in that lazy afternoon canoe ride Kris learned about manoomin and paddling a canoe.  Now he will have something to teach his son.
Makoons Mii sa iw.

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