Fond du lac follies


Fond du Lac Follies motored to Gakaabikaang to meet with Rick Gresczyk’s class at Metro State. I arrived in time to see students carrying food towards the classroom. I was just in time for a feast, what timing eh? Rick made an Ojibwe prayer for the food, included some tobacco.

This was a culturally diverse group – I ate wild rice and food from Somalia. I told stories for a while, maybe a bit more than an hour. The students seemed to enjoy my presentation; they laughed at the appropriate times and were quietly thinking during other parts.

After I was done I headed north to the quiet of the Rez. I just couldn’t stand being in the city any longer, there is too much of everything. I drove north to the welcoming dark of the northern Minnesota night.

**** Fond du Lac will have a language immersion camp June 22, 23, and 24. The location is the Reservation’s campground on the north end of Big Lake, Sawyer. We attended an RBC meeting and during the new business part of the meeting I spoke about our plans for the language immersion camp.     

My son Jim was going to show how he builds a waaginogaan, maybe two. We can use those for shelter for the three days of the camp. I told how we would have stations where various artists made birch bark baskets, black ash baskets, moccasins, fry bread. 

One station would be a cribbage game where people could learn how to count in Ojibwe. We would like to have a fluent speaker traveling from station to station explaining in Ojibwe what the artist was doing.    

We are calling this effort the First Annual Fond du Lac Reservation Ojibwe Language Camp. Everyone is welcome at our camp. For further information, call Rick Gresczyk at 952-215-1973 or Pat Northrup at 218-878-0245.

**** Dr. Margaret (Megan) Noori, of the University of Michigan, brought ten students to the World Headquarters of the Fond du Lac Follies. Megan also brought her husband Asmat, and daughters Shannon and Fiona. Two other teachers completed the group: Howard Kimewon and Pat Osawamick were from Wikwemikong, an Unceded First Nation in Canada.

We met at the Black Bear Casino where we ate together in the Buffet. We went home and they went to the gambling. The next morning the whole group came to Sawyer in three vans. The sixteen people wanted to taste our maple syrup so they made French toast, and bacon and eggs.   

I was making awls for the upcoming birch season where we sew baskets. The table held maple sticks, nails, glue and my carving knife. I had completed niizh by the time the college students finished eating,  Bezhig goal was to make ishwaaswi awls altogether.    

There were nanaan chairs in a circle on the deck. Zhaangaswi people wanted to learn how to make an awl so I showed them what I do. It was sunny outside but I knew the thermometer read zero, gaawiin gegoo, not too many weeks ago. I had zero degrees and I looked all over for some, looked under the couch, in the bathroom, in the tool shed. I could find no degrees anywhere.

I showed them the process I used.  I stood bizhig maple stick on end and drove a nail in the center using my hammer. I pulled it out and pounded it back in a little deeper. I pulled the nail and put glue on half of it. I then used ishwaaswi strokes to set the nail at the desired depth. I then used my grinder using the niizh wheels. I would grind a bit then cool the nail.     I ground the heads off of niiwin nails, kept them cool while grinding.

The Michigan students were happy with the awls they had made. The awls were a tool and they learned how to make another if they wanted too.     I gave them a fifty cent tour of the Rez. We went to the Sawyer Center where my sister Nita Fineday showed them around. Then a visit to Perch Lake where I talked about wild rice, and the Rez museum was next followed by a drive-by visit to the Mino-ayaawin clinic.

The students were full of questions as we circled back to Sawyer. I think they will long remember their visit to the World Headquarters of the Fond du Lac Follies. I wrote down their names in case there is a quiz.

**** The Corvette is in the shop, needs yet another transmission. After two times I think I need a heavy duty transmission, the kind used in race cars.  I like to think the Corvette and I are the antidote to global warming because we are so cool together. Being cools costs money.  Mi iw. 

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