Fond du Lac Follies: Talking a month off

By Jim Northrup
News From Indian Country July 2011

So, where was the Follies during May?  I took the month off to celebrate my 68th birthday.  So Sioux me.

Fond du Lac Follies motored to the Reservation Business Committee open meeting held at the Sawyer Center this time.  I could have walked but would you if you had a chance to drive a ‘64 Corvette Sting Ray on a sunny day with the top down?  Didn’t think so.

At the meeting I learned the casinos are still making money and our per capita payments are not affected by the economic slowdown.

I also heard about Enrollee’s Day here on the Rez.  I learned that Gary Farmer and his band will be here to entertain the Fonjalackers and families.

Someone asked the Chair Karen Diver if she thought Minnesota might open gambling throughout the state.  She said she didn’t think so because of the lack of progress in the Minnesota Legislature.

The main topic of this meeting was expulsion.  The RBC held meetings with the people to get their thoughts.  Karen Diver answered questions from the audience about how it would be implemented, how it would be administered, especially against those who committed a violent crime, or were dealing drugs.

This expulsion is a work in progress and I am sure it will be refined in time to work in the best interests of the people of the Rez.

As Karen was leaving she casually remarked that if the state legalized gambling we could legalize Marijuana on the Rez.  I don’t know Karen well enough to know if she was serious or was just pulling my lariat. But I suppose the Follies is a good place to start a rumor isn’t it?

We shall see what we shall see.


The planning for this year’s Ojibwe language Immersion Camp was happening on a daily basis.  My wife Patricia was working on it mostly by herself with advice from the planning committee.  My part was easy, when she comes up with a good idea for the camp and suggests it to me, I smile and say, sounds good to me.  Patricia has been working tirelessly on the camp, okay, okay, a couple times there she did get tired and needed a bingo hit.

The camp happened at the Fond du Lac Kiwenz Campground here in Sawyer June 23rd through the 26th, and many marked the calendar or carved it in their forearm so they didn’t miss this learning experience.

We assembled a stellar list of fluent speakers.  They were Dr.Brian McGinnes, Dr. Rick Gresczk, Jacob “Sonny” Greensky, Gordy Jourdain, Dr. Margaret “Megan” Noori, Howard Kimewon, and Helen Roy.

Since we believe that indigenous art is important in learning about the Anishinaabe ways, we had artists teaching and demonstrating what they do.  The following artists were invited and agreed to bring their talents to the language camp, Charles Tuna Nahganub, Sarah Howes Agaton, Frank Montano, Randy Gresczyk, Thedore and Myna Tuluc, and Victoria Ellis.

In addition to the activities with the artists we planned some physical activities.  The canoe race was so popular last year we will do it again.  One canoe race used paddles and one used rice poles and knockers.  The Rez DNR provided a safety boat and life jackets for the racers.  There were modest prizes for the winners.

People at the camp learned and played the Moccasin Game. Other nights we had storytelling and music.  A nature walk was planned where plants were identified in Ojibwemowin and Howard Kimewon showed how to make hominy soup the old way.  We built a waaginogaanan for the artists and fluent speakers to use.  The Fond du Lac Reservation police patroled and provided security for the event.  I set up a shelter and sew birchbark baskets while the language happened around me.

The setting was right on the north shore of Gichi-zaaga’igan, Big Lake, and let us enjoy the evening breezes.

I believe any camper who spends four days and nights here will learn and use more Ojibwemowin than before they came to the camp.  Ahow, ambe Ojibwemodaa.


Graduation season is upon us and I just have to brag.  My son Matthew Northrup graduated from Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College and was one of the commencement speakers.  He won a slug of awards for his 4.0 grade point average.  He wants to keep going to school until he has a Dr. in front of his name.  I am sure proud of him.

James W. Northrup IV, graduated from Cloquet High School.  Niiwin, as we call him, also makes me proud.



Mii iw,

mii sa iw




The views expressed in this column belong to the writer alone.  They are not meant to represent this newspaper, this Rez, the Fonjalackers, Obama or Osama, or anyone else.  Comments and bingo packs can be sent to FdL Follies, PO Box16, Sawyer, MN 55780-0016. email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., facebook too.