Motoring to the 34th Annual Sobriety pow wow

By Jim Northrup
Fond du Lac Follies motored to the 34th Annual Sobriety pow wow held here in Sawyer on the Fond du Lac Reservation.
It is also close to the 35th Anniversary of the free beer-rock concert held in the same place on the shores of Big Lake. Whiskey River was the main act and there were cattle troughs that held the ice and beer. At I recall the event started off just fine but got a little blurry by the end of the doings.
        The Pow Wow started off fine also. There was the usual pow wow stuff: singers, drummers, and dancers, food stands, an MC and an arena director and a public address system. There were prayers said and the Anishinaabe people gathered to have a good time. There was a tipi and a ceremonial fire. The police set up their shelter in the usual place on the east side of the dancing circle. The usual river of people flowed in both directions outside the dance circle.
        The sound of the drum got everyone's heart beating at the same time. Laughing and visiting was the most natural thing to do so that is what we did.
        We had our Free Coffee for Veterans stand set up and we had many veterans who came by for a cup and a little conversation.

        Like a thief in the night Fond du Lac Follies stole away to Thief River Falls.
        The event was set up by Mark Johnson of Pioneer radio, 90.1 and was held at the Thief River Falls Public Library. We just Googled the location and the map lead us to the front door.
        To get there was easy, just pretended like we were driving to Fargo but turned north when we got to Highway 59. The highway was in nice shape and there were not many cars on the road. I had a chance to observe the effects on the straight line wind storm that blew down so many trees on the Leech Lake Reservation.
        We were welcomed to the library by Darcie, the head librarian. She showed us where the coffee and cookies were. I introduced myself in Ojibwe, recited some poetry, read from my new books and generally had a good time.
        We had a question and answer session at the end of the reading and I was able to answer most of the questions asked by the audience members.
        Afterwards I learned we were 60 miles from Canada and 70 miles from North Dakota. Now that is real northwest Minnesota.
        The ride home was uneventful, my favoritest kind. My wife and I took turns driving.
        I have noticed the Black Bear Golf Course has used Ojibwemowin numbers to identify the holes. Bebangii, little by little we are using our language on the Rez.
        There is no wild rice on the Fond du Lac Reservation. The plants were flooded out in the same flood that freed the polar bear in the Duluth zoo, the one where a zoo seal was swimming in the streets.
        We are sending out scouts to see where the flood didn't happen. Ganabaj. It is good that we got a pillow case full of finished rice from last year. We shall see if we can make rice anywhere this year.

        "If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought." I like that George Orwell quote.
        With that quote in mind and for quite a few hundred other reasons we decided to have an Ojibwe language immersion zone in our house. From the time we woke up until we tipped over for sleep we decided to only use Ojibwemowin.
        We allowed an exception when using the telephone.
        So far we had made it through breakfast (I knew one word for oatmeal) although we didn't chitter-chatter like we usually do. We don't have enough of a vocabulary to do that. There are reference books and dictionaries lying around so we can look up words and phrases to use.
        The house was unusually quiet.
        We made most of our mistakes when coming into a room, like it was the most likely place to make an announcement or pronouncement about something.
        I came walking out of the bedroom to ask my wife if she had seen the dog around? It took four steps to realize I had said the whole thing in English. Oops.
        We are going to look at what went right and what we can improve on for our next immersion day.
One thing we know is we have to grow our vocabulary, need to better express ourselves.
        It has been harder to do than we thought it would be. It requires dedication to the language to try what we are doing.
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, Librarian Darcie, or anyone else. Comments and Bingo Packs can be sent to FdL Follies, PO Box 16, Sawyer, MN 55780-0016 email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. facebook too.

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