Thou shalt not use a siphon hose as a credit card

by Jim Northrup
News From Indian Country

Fond du Lac Follies motored to the Black Bear Casino for the annual celebration of Enrollee's Day. We were fed and presented with a ten-dollar roll of quarters. The wiindigoo slot machine ate mine real fast.

The doings were held in a large white tent erected in the north parking lot between the casino and the emerging golf course. A Fonjalacker, Linda Olson, drew the names for the cash drawings. Linda didn't call my name so I didn't win and just drove home.

Question of the Month (pow wow division)
Q. How did you know he liked pow wows?
A. He sets up camp on Wednesday.

A long time ago when dinosaurs stalked the earth I was a teen-ager. I attended Brainerd Indian Training School in Hot Springs, South Dakota. The school was operated by the Wesleyan Methodist Tribe.

The lead dog at the school was a man named William D. Gale. President Gale was there to minister to the godless heathens. As I recall our weeks went like this, church three hours on Sunday morning, three hours Sunday evening, an hour of chapel every day, and a three hour prayer meeting on Wednesday evenings.

Some 40 years later I got a call from President Gale. Oh oh, do I still owe him some demerits? The school had a policy of merits and demerits. For example, if one could memorize Bible verses and recite them, merits were earned. If one acted like a teen-ager, demerits were issued. I left the school under a dark cloud, one of the unsaved ones. I may still owe demerits.

It turns out Brother Gale was passing through and wanted to stop in Sawyer and visit me. He stopped and I wasn't at home. He left some copies of a book he had written called I Sat Where They Sat. In the book, Brother Gale reveals how he got the name Chief Hugs Himself. I sat down and began to read, got as far as the Indian Ten Commandments

  1. Thou shalt not throw bottles and cans on the road or leave junky cars in the yard.
  2. Thou shalt not use a siphon hose as a credit card.
  3. Thou shalt not borrow money from the Paleface without paying back.
  4. Thou shalt not go to rodeos or pow wows.

I couldn't read anymore, I took that book outside and shot it. Okay, so give me more demerits.

Fond du Lac Follies motored to Red Cliff Reservation in Wisconsin. It was the Ojibwe language camp put together by Andy Gokee and Keller Paap that drew us east.

We motored through the woods to the campsite. Tall pines, beautiful birch, maple, and basswood trees smiled at us in every direction. The camp was on the river. It smelled a lot like outside.

We shook hands with old friends and joined them as they were brushing flies off of their faces, arms, ankles, toes, hips and lips. The Ojibwe language sounds were being heard in between the laughs. Andy Gokee was hoping for 25 language learners. He got his wish. I hope he wasn't wishing for black flies.

The big black slow flying flies welcomed us to the Rez. Everyone seemed to know that the flies lay eggs in the army worm cocoons and was good. There were gazillions of them, well okay, more than a million flies camping with the Shinnobs at the language camp.

As part of the doings, commercial fisherman, Mike Montano, told stories about fishing on the big lake. He also showed some of the equipment he uses. Mike is the son of Frank Montano, the musician. Just listening to him talk about long hours and danger made me glad that I am a writer instead of a fisherman.

I like being around language speakers and really like hearing the sound of the language spoken.

Fond du Lac Follies motored to Mash Ka Wisen to take part in the Fond du Lac Reservation's 9th annual Veterans pow wow. I think it is good that the Reservation honors the veterans. We were given gifts: a jacket, a t-shirt, a brass belt buckle, wild rice and a pin. The pow wow committee did a good job of organizing the event.

Question of the Month
Q. Where do you find good birch bark for baskets?
A. Usually just on the other side of those No Trespassing signs.

Mark Halberstadt, a film maker, is looking for five funny Indians. If you think you are funny call him at (641) 469-5885. The five skins will be going to Europe with the film crew for two months. The film is a serious political comedy and will travel to England, Germany, Spain, and France.

The views expressed in this column belong to the writer alone. They are not meant to rep-resent this Rez, this newspaper or anyone else.

Comments and bingo packs can be sent to:
FdL Follies
PO Box 16
Sawyer, MN 55780-0016.

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