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It has been 22 years since the Follies has been running in The Circle newspaper in Minneapolis. So let us all gather around for the almost traditional singing of the Happy Birthday song.
Happy Birthday to it
Happy Birthday to it
Happy Birthday dear Follies
Happy Birthday to it.
There, done with that for another year. And what a different world we live in now compared to August, 1989.
I was 46 then, and since I began studying the Ojibwe Language, I can now say with great confidence niizhwaasimidana ashi ingodwaaswi endaso biboonigiz - I was 46 when I started writing the Follies. The Fond du Lac Follies has been in print niizhtana ashi niizh daso biboonagad - 22 years, that is a lot of Rez Cars and dogs ago. In that time period we have made over a thousand birch bark fanning baskets, hundreds of gallons of maple syrup, tons of wild rice and went to too damn many funerals.
Three of my books have been published and I have written and performed in two plays.
We have traveled quite a bit also. We went to England and Scotland in '95. I went to Norway twice in '97. We have been to Canada twice, once in '91 and again in '92, and Mexico in '94, specifically Mexico City. I was in Amsterdam in '97 and that is all I am going to say about that.
I have visited more than 50 Reservations or Pueblos. We also visited great cities of the United States, even Disneyworld in Orlando. I didn't go on any of the rides or look for Mickey or Minnie.
I am reminded of a quote by Winston Churchill, Winston Churchill, the Englishman who helped win WW Two. "We must take change by the hand or rest assuredly; change will take us by the throat"
Change is everywhere, even in the Follies. When I first starting writing it the length was 1,000 words, now it is a sleek 800 words.
**** The language camp at Kiwenz Campground in Sawyer was just good.
Over 500 people showed up to teach or learn Ojibwemowin. Some came for the art and learned moccasin making, ricing tools, quillwork, birch bark baskets and how to make a drumstick.
One young boy, about eight years old, came by to show me his drumstick. He brought along the hand drum he had made at last year's language camp. Randy Gresczyk was the teacher for both. He was proud as he was tapping out a beat on his drum with his new drum stick.
News from Indian Country TV has videos of the canoe race, the personal favorite of mine. This year my son Jim came in first with the rice pole race and second in the paddle race. He and his canoe partner, Willard Fools Bull, split 180 bucks for their efforts. Willard is a Lakota from Pine Ridge Reservation and this was his first time in a canoe. NFIC TV also has a video of the nature walk, and many other activities from the camp.
On our last day of the camp on Sunday, Gary Farmer stopped by for a visit. He and his band, the Troublemakers, were headed for White Earth after his appearance at Fond du Lac. He spoke to the assembled campers and told us we were doing the right thing because preservation was so important.
We did an evaluation of our work this year, looked for the things that went wrong or right. We have begun planning for the camp next year.
**** The annual Fond du Lac Veteran's powwow was a smooth summertime event. Once again it was held in Sawyer on the shores of Big Lake, Gichi-zaaga' igan, Doc Rick likes to call it.
My wife didn't put up her food stand called Stand Here. Instead she danced for all the veterans in her family.
My son Aaron sold soda pop and water to the people who came to the pow wow. It was a good move on his part because the hot weather made his stand a popular place.
I was right next door to him in my Veterans Lounge. The sign saying "Free Coffee For Veterans" was up and we had a lot of people stopping by for that. We had shade and chairs in the lounge and different veterans visited and told stories about their time in the military.
Two close friends spent a lot of time there. Ray Earley and Ted Charles. We were Marines during the Vietnam War. Ray is from White Earth and Ted is from Gallup, New Mexico.
The Veterans Lounge floor was littered with empty C-ration cans, grenade pins, and brass by the time we were done telling stories.
**** Mii iw, Mii sa iw.