Fond du Lac Follies.... Flying, and flying some more

By Jim Northrup
News From Indian Country 12-08

Fond du Lac Follies has sure been jetting a lot lately. It must be because November was American Indian Heritage Month. Speaking for myself I believe every month is American Indian Heritage Month.

My first airplane ride took me to Dayton. To get there I had to ride a jet to Atlanta. To get to Ohio I had to go to Georgia first. I guess it makes some kind of airline sense to go to the Peach state to get to the Buckeye state.

I proceeded to Wright State University, it was a huge place, 17,000 students. I met with some students who were leaders of the Native American students group. We shared some time together and then it was time for me to tell stories and recite poetry. I stood in front of the room and told stories about the Anishinaabe and about life on the Fond du Lac Reservation in what is now called Minnesota.

I flew from Dayton to Atlanta then on to Minneapolis and finally Duluth. I got to Sawyer and shook off the effects of jet lag.

I then flew from Duluth to Minneapolis to Portland, Oregon. This event was a tribute to American veterans. American Indian veterans were honored during this event. There were quite a few people including a Navajo Code Talker. His name was Samuel Sandoval and it was interesting visiting with him. He told me to forget everything about the movie Windtalkers. He told me how it really was as a Code Talker in the Marines during World War Two in the Pacific island battles. He was accompanied by his young wife, some vets asked if she was his granddaughter but he laughed and said he was married to her. When Samuel found out I was from Minnesota he said he was wishing for wild rice. I gave him a pound of Perch Lake rice that my family gathered last September.

Also in attendance were two men who were Tuskegee Airmen. Both had flown P-51s in Europe during World War Two. I was in the midst of historical figures at this event. There were quite a few American Indian veterans of the Vietnam War there also.


It rained for four days and nights while I was in Portland. I thought the easiest job in Portland was being a weather forecaster. Something like, tonight we will have rain followed by a thunderstrom tomorrow with sprinkles in the evening and a gulley washer storm this weekend.  I only saw the bottom of the mountains because of the clouds. The rain followed me back to Minnesota. I continued shaking off the effects of jet lag.

I caught a flight to Minneapolis for a flight to Cleveland. Roberto Chavez had invited me to Cleveland State University and NASA invited me to the John Glenn Space Center. I met some skins who worked for the space agency. At NASA I told the employees about meeting John Herrington, the Indian astronaut. I told them I gave him a fast ride in my Corvette and asked if he wanted to drive it back. He asked if I trusted him with my sports car. I told John if NASA trusted him with a space shuttle I could trust him with my car. The employees of NASA laughed at that story. In honor of John Herrington I took off my Marine Corps hat and wore my NASA hat he had dated and autographed. At the end of the reading I put my NASA hat away and put my Marine Corps hat back on.

I went to the airport for a flight to Detroit and caught another airplane for the trip back to Duluth.


In the rez newspaper I learned the reservaton leaders liked my idea of veterans parking. Ferdinand Martineau and Mary Northrup of the RBC wrote about the proposal and they will make it happen. All reservation buildings will have parking spaces for Veterans

I wrote a piece in the Rez newspaper for Veterans Day. I proposed two ideas to the RBC. I wrote about the State of Minnesota giving us a bonus after our participation in the Vietnam War. I thought the rez could follow the State precedent and give veterans a bonus also. I also proposed the veterans parking spaces at Rez buildings, at Naagachiwanong Adawewigamig, the Black Bear casino and hotel, the golf course and the three community centers.

In a related note R & S Auto on the Big Lake Road is offering a 10 percent discount on repairs for veterans. Good thing because I took the Corvette there for repairs needed before I parked it for the winter. Rob of R & S Auto decided on the discount after reading my piece in the rez newspaper.


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