My son Jim’s job as a Cultural Specialist was eliminated

By Jim Northrup
News From Indian Country

My son Jim’s job as a Cultural Specialist was eliminated by the Reservation Business Committee.  The letter stating this said:  “Recently a decision was made to eliminate the Cultural Specialist position.”  It further states: “As you are aware, we have had a difficult time defining your scope of work in the context of our current Resource Management department.  It has become apparent the type of work you do is best handled under a personal services contract that focuses on specific cultural activities.  The Band recognizes your commitment to preserving the culture and sharing your knowledge with the community.  I have received many good reports about your work and you can be proud of all you have achieved over the past 2 years.  We value the unique experiences you have to offer.”

This was a polite way of firing him since they had no grounds to justify a firing.  In my opinion he was treated like, (as the old saying goes) a redheaded stepchild.  He would ask for tools to do his job like a shovel or ax.  His boss Reggie Defoe, would tell him to borrow one somewhere since there was no money in the budget.  He was given the runaround on every thing he asked for to do his job.  In spite of the bureaucratic swamp he worked in, he was able to build various camps through various seasons for two years.  He set up fishing camps, maple sugar camps, and manoomin camps to show people how the Anishinaabe used the natural resouces around them.  His last manoomin camp at Perch Lake was a success with over 1,000 visitors.   Sadly, only one member of the RBC came to the camp to see what he was doing, it was Kevin Dupuis, the Brookston Representative.

With the above topic in mind, my wife and I have agreed not to work on this year’s language camp for the Band.

Just coincidentally we heard the Reservation was going to create a language and cultural resources division.  We saw one proposed budget for this new division and learned the Director and Assistant Director would be each paid $80,000.00 in salary and fringe benefits.  The total budget for the Division was $213,000.00  There was no mention of a language table or a language camp in the proposed budget.   People should contact the Reservation at 218 879 4593 to see if there is going to be a language camp at Kiwenz campground this coming summer or anytime in the future.
This is being written on December 26th so it is time for my annual anti-Christmas rant.  I believe Christmas is used as an assimilation tool.  Christmas is used to make us forget we are Anishinaabe and turn us into brown-skinned American consumers.  It seems to have worked quite well.  Instead of saying or writing Christmas I shall use the word Assimilation.

We didn’t attend this year’s Elders Assimilation Party at the Black Bear Casino.  Last year I complained about a Catholic nun praying for the food at the feast. I thought the party planners should have found an OJibwe language speaker to pray for the food since Ojibwe is the Official Language of the Reservation.  They brought the nun back again this year to pray for the food proving how much they wanted Americans to like them.  We weren’t there so we couldn’t sign up for the Assimilation Basket drawings.  We didn’t get to wish anyone Merry Assimilation, didn’t have to get an Assimilation tree or Assimilation presents to put under it.  It was difficult to get through December without hearing Assimilation songs.  I am glad we didn’t have to put up Assimilation lights around the roof of the house.

This isn’t Bah Humbug, this is Bah Assimilation.
As it stands right now I shall be jetting to Budapest, Hungary during the first week of February.  Here is a little back story, some years back a man named Gabor came to Sawyer on the Fond du Lac Reservation to learn about the Anishinaabe people.  It was the sugar bush time of the year so we put him to work collecting sap and helping with boiling it down to syrup.   He translated some of my poems into Hungarian.  In the following years Gabor created a manuscript using my poetry that was published.  The book is now out and I have been asked by the US State Department to travel to Hungary for a week in a cultural exchange program.  I said yes.  I only know two words in Hungarian, one is Buda and the other one isn’t.  I am sure I will know a lot more by the time I come back to the Fond du Lac Reservation.
I only need 13 words to make this a complete Fond du Lac Follies Column.
The views expressed in this column belong to the writer alone.  They are not meant to represent this newspaper, this Reservation, the RBC, or Gabor Gyukics, 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 name Jim Northup.

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