Motoring to the museum to see myself

by Jim Northrup
News From Indian Country

The accountants are done accounting the money from the Adam Beach Golf Classic. The Rez veterans got $15,000 for their share, my slice of that came to $250. I hope this golf classic comes to Fond du Lac again soon.


There is a new CD released by the Smithsonian Institution. It is called Pulling Down The Clouds and it features contemporary Native writers reading from their works. Writers who have appeared at the National Museum of the American Indian in the first four years are featured in this CD.

The list reads like a Who’s Who of American Indian writers. The CD opens with six minutes of N. Scott Momaday, followed by six minutes of Louise Erdrich then Sherwin Bitsui, Ofelia Zepeda, Karenne Wood, Simon Ortiz, Jim Northrup, Joy Harjo, M.L. Smoker, Duncan Primeaux, Debra Magpie Earling, Joy Harjo again, Tomson Highway, Tomson Highway again, Leanne Howe, Nora Marks Dauenhauer, and Susan Power. The CD closes with one of my poems called End Of The Beginning.

I felt honored to be in with the writers I have been reading all of these years.

The CD can be ordered from: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

It sells for fifteen bucks.


I have a seven-year-old grandson who lives next door and I just have to brag. I call him Bimose and he visits every school morning so he can walk to the bus stop with my son, Aaron Ezigaa.

One morning Bimose said, “Grampa, did you know I have never had a twenty dollar bill of my own.”

I replied, “Oh.”

A little bit later he said, “I’d sure like to have a twenty dollar bill.”

“Me too,” I said. Finally he came right out and said, “Grampa, would you give me a twenty dollar bill?”

“Yes,” I said, “When you can count from one to fifty in Ojibwe without making a mistake.”

In the past few years we have been counting in Ojibwe and he is also learning Ojibwe words and phrases so I thought he could do it. The look in his eyes said he knew he could do it too.

The next morning he began counting. He got to 23 before he skipped a number. I made a buzzing noise to signal him I had heard a mistake. The next morning he got to 32 before he repeated a number and heard my buzzer. He kept trying every morning for a week and a half, he was getting closer and closer to fifty. On that final morning his eyes showed that he knew he could do it successfully. He began smiling as he said the words for 44, 45, 46. His smile was getting bigger as he said the words for 47, 48, 49. He took a deep breath and said the word for 50. I said, “Mii gwayak.” He yelled, “I did it!” I peeled off a twenty and handed it too him. He asked if he could call his mom to tell her. I said, “Goat head.”

The next morning I told him I would give him another twenty dollar bill if he could count to 100 in Ojibwe without a mistake. Before we started on that one I asked him to count to 100 by tens. He did that easily enough. It took him three days before he earned the second twenty. Once again he yelled, “I did it!” He called his mom to tell her he had earned another twenty dollars.

For the final exam in counting in Ojibwe I told him I would give him a twenty dollar bill if he could count backwards from fifty. It took him two days before I gave him the last twenty I had.

That boy and I are doing something together that counts.


Fond du Lac Follies motored to St. Paul to see myself in a museum. The event was the premier showing of the exhibits at the Minnesota History Museum. The exhibit was called Minnesota 150. The purpose of the exhibit was to help celebrate Minnesota’s sesquicentennial which will occur next year. The exhibit will be shown until 2012.

My part of the doings was to be a nominator, I submitted a poem called Ditched for the topic of Indian Boarding schools. To go along with the poem I made a little crawler toy we used to make in Pipestone Boarding school. I wrote that we didn’t have any toys at boarding school so we had to make our own. Pipestone wasn’t a toy kind of a place. My nomination was chosen from a field of 2,760 nominations.

The Fond du Lac Reservation is four years older than the State of Minnesota. Welcome to the neighborhood, kid.

Is it vanity to take a picture of yourself on a museum wall?

The views in this column belong to the writer alone, they are not meant to represent this newspaper, the Reservation, the State of Minnesota or anyone else.

Comments and bingo packs can be sent to FdL Follies, PO Box 16, Sawyer, MN 55780-0020

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