Fond du Lac Follies


My son Jim’s job as a Cultural

Specialist was eliminated by the Reservation Business Committee. The

letter stating this said: "Recently a decision was made to

eliminate the Cultural Specialist position." It further states:

"As you are aware, we have had a difficult time defining your

scope of work in the context of our current Resource Management

department. It has become apparent the type of work you do is best

handled under a personal services contract that focuses on specific

cultural activities. The Band recognizes your commitment to

preserving the culture and sharing your knowledge with the community.

I have received many good reports about your work and you can be

proud of all you have achieved over the past two years. We value the

unique experiences you have to offer."

This was a polite way of firing him

since they had no grounds to justify a firing. In my opinion he was

treated like, (as the old saying goes) a redheaded stepchild. He

would ask for tools to do his job like a shovel or ax. His boss

Reggie Defoe, would tell him to borrow one somewhere since there was

no money in the budget. He was given the runaround on every thing he

asked for to do his job. In spite of the bureaucratic swamp he worked

in, he was able to build various camps through various seasons for

two years. He set up fishing camps, maple sugar camps, and manoomin

camps to show people how the Anishinaabe used the natural resources

around them. His last manoomin camp at Perch Luke was a success with

over 1,000 visitors. Sadly, only one member of the RBC came to the

camp to see what he was doing, it was Kevin Dupuis, the Brookston


With the above topic in mind, my

wife and I have agreed not to work on this year’s language camp for

the Band.

Just coincidentally we heard the

Reservation was going to create a language and cultural resources

division. We saw one proposed budget for this new division and

learned the Director and Assistant Director would be each paid

$80,000 in salary and fringe benefits. The total budget for the

Division was $213,000. There was no mention of a language table or a

language camp in the proposed budget. People should contact the

Reservation at 218-879-4593 to see if there is going to be a language

camp at Kiwenz campground this coming summer or anytime in the


This is being written on December

26th so it is time for my annual anti-Christmas rant. I believe

Christmas is used as an assimilation tool. Christmas is used to make

us forget we are Anishinaabe and turn us into brown-skinned American

consumers. It seems to have worked quite well. Instead of saying or

writing Christmas I shall use the word Assimilation.

We didn’t attend this year’s Elders

Assimilation Party at the Black Bear Casino. Last year I complained

about a Catholic nun praying for the food at the feast. I thought the

party planners should have found an OJibwe language speaker to pray

for the food since Ojibwe is the Official Language of the

Reservation. They brought the nun back again this year to pray for

the food proving how much they wanted Americans to like them. We

weren’t there so we couldn’t sign up for the Assimilation Basket

drawings. We didn’t get to wish anyone Merry Assimilation, didn’t

have to get an Assimilation tree or Assimilation presents to put

under it. It was difficult to get through December without hearing

Assimilation songs. I am glad we didn’t have to put up Assimilation

lights around the roof of the house.

This isn’t Bah Humbug, this is Bah


As it stands right now I shall be

jetting to Budapest, Hungary during the first week of February. Here

is a little back story, some years back a man named Gabor came to

Sawyer on the Fond du Lac Reservation to learn about the Anishinaabe

people. It was the sugar bush time of the year so we put him to work

collecting sap and helping with boiling it down to syrup. He

translated some of my poems into Hungarian. In the following years

Gabor created a manuscript using my poetry that was published. The

book is now out and I have been asked by the US State Department to

travel to Hungary for a week in a cultural exchange program. I said

yes. I only know two words in Hungarian, one is Buda and the other

one isn’t. I am sure I will know a lot more by the time I come back

to the Fond du Lac Reservation.

I only need 13 words to make this a

complete Fond du Lac Follies Column.

The views expressed in this column

belong to the writer alone. They are not meant to represent this

newspaper, this Reservation, the RBC, or Gabor Gyukics, or anyone

else. Comments and bingo packs can be sent to FdL Follies, PO Box 16,

Sawyer, MN 55780-0016 email:, Facebook

name: Jim Northup.