Fon du lac follies


My younger sister Doris Ann also died recently, she was 61. It is hard for me to write about my sister and friend. She was always quick to offer a cup of coffee or a meal or an ear when I visited her. She told the funniest stories.

Doris was born on February 14th so every Valentines Day I sang her our traditional family song that goes:  Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, you belong in a zoo, you belong in a zoo.

She moved back to the Rez from the Cities in the early 90s. I was glad because it was easier to visit her on Mahnomen Road. She was called Doe, the Mayor of Mahnomen. 

Lee Staples did the ceremony that helped send Doris to the other side to meet her relatives that had passed on. The Sawyer Community Center was where her funeral was held. The fire was burning outside. There were quite a few of her friends and relatives who came together to help send her off. Her children and grandchildren were seated on one side of the aisle. Doris Ann’s brothers and sisters were seated on the other side of the aisle. We were seated in our birth order. Empty chairs were used to signify which brother or sister had passed on.

During the ceremony, in Ojbwe,  Lee Staples told Doris what she would see on her four day journey to the other side. We ate and smoked with Doris. The non-smokers took their tobacco outside and placed it in the fire. After the casket was closed for the final time Lee explained what he had said in English to us. We left knowing what to expect when our time comes.

Doris, every Valentines Day I will sing to you “Happy Birthday to you, happy birthday to you, you belong in a zoo, you belong in a zoo”.

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