Fond du Lac Follies


This is a final salute to Ronald Chic Smith. The Marine veteran was awarded three Purple Hearts in Korea. Chic was 77 years old. We will miss you at the bingo hall. Our sympathies are extended to his extended family.

**** Fond du Lac Follies motored to Frost Bite Falls, as I call International Falls, Minnesota, to talk to three classes at the high school.

The weather was the main part of this story. The thermometer read -30

below zero when I started off. The road was mostly clear except for the

patches of black ice. I just puckered up when I skated across those


I arrived the night before I was scheduled to speak and I became an

overnight Holiday Inndian. The staff there was friendly, so if you are

ever that far north it is a good place to stay. I could see Canada from

the restaurant. It looked a lot like northern Minnesota.

In the morning I was worried about my car starting because it was so

cold, but no problem. That Sable fired up easily in that -30 below

winter morning. The license plates on the car say Bwaan because it is

my wife’s car and she is Dakota.

I met the first group, an honors English class. I introduced myself in

Ojibwemowin. I then asked if anyone could name an Anishinaabe author.

There was a dead silence in the room until someone said Jim Northrup, I

told them I always like to start with him. I named some of my favorite

Anishinaabe authors starting with Louise Erdrich, Heid Erdrich, Kim

Blaeser, Gerald Vizenor, and Marcie Rendon.

I told the students to write down those names because there was going

to be a quiz the next time I came through Frost Bite Falls. The

students had watched the video Jim Northrup: With Reservations, before

I came to the classroom. The final credits were rolling as I walked in.

The students got to see me in person after watching the half hour video.

I recited some poems that weren’t in the video, told them boarding

school stories and some war stories from the Vietnam War. I finished by

telling my dog stories.

Tom Vollum whisked me off to the next class which was Anishinaabeg students.

I stood up and told similar stories to these students. I allowed time

for questions they might have about me or my writing. One of the

students asked how long it took to write a short story, a poem? I told

them from the beginning all the way to the end. I told them I don’t

keep track of the time because I am so busy keeping track of the story

or poem. I stressed the importance of rewriting and revising. I

thought that was a thought provoking thought from a tenth grade


The third class was very much like the second and even had a lot of the same faces in it.

Tom Vollum did a good job of putting together the doings and I saw him

weilding a spoon during the afternoon feast. I told a few stories to

the family and students that gathered as a way of singing for my

supper. I will long remember my friendly visit to Frost Bite Falls.

**** Fond du Lac Follies motored to the Black Bear Casino for the

first ever State Of The Band Address by Karen Diver and the rest of the

Reservation Business Committee.

The important things I learned were that our per capita payment will

continue and that no one would be laid off. I left the meeting and I

was smiling just hard.

**** I voted for Barack Obama but didn’t buy into the Messiah-like

properties because after all, he is just a man. I had no plans to

attend the inaugeration so I didn’t go. We will better know the man

after the first 100 days in office, after he faces the first crisis or


I am glad the eight year nightmare of the Bush Administration is over.

****I like winter and this one has been especially good. We have had

enough snow and the below zero weather to make it a good winter. I

really like it when the sun sprinkles sparkling diamonds in the snow in

my backyard.

I am getting old so I don’t spend as much time outside as I used to. I

enjoyed down hill skiing and trudging through the deep snow on

snowshoes. I have fond memories of teaching my grandsons how to build a

fire in the deep snow.

I like seeing the sun getting higher in the sky because that means sugar bush is coming. I will spend more time outside then.

**** Mii iw. Mii sa iw