Fond du Lac Follies (August 2013)

By Jim Northrup
News From Indian Country

Fond du Lac Follies attended the 20th annual Veterans pow wow held in Sawyer, Minnesota.  Once again it was an easy decision where to go for the weekend since this pow wow is just down the tar road a half mile away.
    
Chuck Smith, the Veterans Service Officer for the Rez, organized this year’s event.  Chuck’s son Charlie was the spiritual advisor for the pow wow.  I wish we could have had a veteran as the spiritual advisor for veterans.
    
As usual we had a good time after we erected our double wide hooch.  It was instant shade and protection from the wind.  After we arranged the chairs for visiting, Pat set up her sign that said Free Coffee For Vets.  It is our humble way of thanking the veterans for their service.  I am a Vet of the Vietnam War so I was able to drink coffee free all weekend.
    
They have been having this Veterans pow wow for the past twenty years.  The Fond du Lac Reservation sure knows how to honor all veterans.  At one point in the festivities the Fond du Lac Tribal government lined up to shake hands at they passed out gifts to the veterans.  Chair Karen Diver presented me with a gold colored coin.  The rest of the Reservation Business Committee stood in a line next to her where they shook hands with the veterans who were walking by.  Each one smiled and thanked us for our service.  Rez workers presented us with gifts which included a pound of Fond du Lac manoomin.
  
We settled into our hooch and began visiting with visiting veterans.  By the end of the pow wow we had passed out over 400 cups of coffee.
    
I am glad they dropped the fireworks from the festivities.  The sound of the fireworks exploding is nothing compared to the sound of the device leaving the tube, it reminds this veteran of the sound of mortars coming in.
    
All in all I felt proud when I saw how my Reservation honors the veterans.

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Warning-cute dog story follows.  We have two daschunds, Oscar Mayer and Buster Brown Shoes.  Both brown dogs were sleeping on the couch where they were not supposed to be.  Oscar was having a tough time sleeping, I think he was having a doggie nightmare.  He was groaning and moaning, his legs were twitching, like he was almost running.  Buster heard him, he got up, walked across the couch and laid his head on Oscar’s back, closed his eyes and went back to sleep.  Oscar calmed down immediately.  I watched and said Awwww.

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This is the 24th Anniversary issue of the Fond du Lac Follies.  Only 12 more after this one before I hang up my computer.  I started off getting paid so much and never got a raise.  As is my custom I shall sing a little happy birthday song to it.
    
Happy Birthday to it, happy birthday to it.  Happy birthday dear Fond du Lac Follies, happy birthday to it.
    
Only twelve more issues of the Follies will be printed.

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The Northrup Birch Bark Factory has been operating since early June this year.  My wife Pat, my two brothers Vern and Russ are the only employees.  Pat is the Quality Control Manager, Vern is the Materials Manager since he collects the birch bark, basswood bark and green willow that we use to make these fanning baskets. I am the Clothespin Manager, I provide the clothespins that holds the birch bark together while they are being sewn.  Russ was the apprentice this year.  Next year he will be the Training Manager since one good way to learn something is to teach it.
    
We taught how to make birch bark baskets at our Ojibwe Language Camp this past June in Sawyer, Minnesota.  I had about ten students who completed or almost completed their baskets. Some started but dropped out before they quit.
    
We went to Red Cliff’s Language Camp and taught how to make birch bark baskets.  I think we had seven that completed their baskets there.
    
Now I have time to sit and sew baskets at home.  Then I can put on my Birch Bark Salesman hat and sell the baskets we have made.

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My son Matthew and I got plastered in Sawyer.  Wait, it is not what you think.  It was real plaster and molds were made of our faces.  Molten iron will be poured into the molds and some of them will become part of a Warriors Memorial to be constructed on the north side of Minneapolis.  More details will emerge before the dedication on Veterans Day, 2014.  Both Northrups were honored to be asked to be a part of this historic project.

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Mii sa iw.

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The views expressed in this column belong to the writer alone, they are not meant to represent veterans, the Fond du Lac Reservation Business Committee, the Red Cliff Reservation, or mold making artists anywhere.  Comments and bingo packs can be sent to the FdL Follies, PO Box 16, Sawyer, MN 55780-0016 or email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. facebook too but not Twitter.