Laughs and community-building at winter storytelling event


This one is for your just-for-grins department. Some time back I got an email from someone named Gyukics Gabor, I don’t know any Hungarian words so I don’t know which is the front name and which is the last, but he or she sent a request asking if it was okay to translate three of my poems into Hungarian.

I said go ahead and some time later he or she sent me an URL: I clicked to that location and found three poems and my picture so this must be legit. My anti-virus software didn’t detect anything wrong with the URL. And now back to our regularly scheduled Fond du Lac Follies already in progress.

**** It was 65 years ago this month that Ira Hayes, USMC, helped raise the American flag on top of Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima…. Hand Salute!…. Ready Two.

**** The planning for this Winter storytelling event has been going on for three months and the time came. The planning committee consisted of my wife, three friends and a cousin. We arranged the storytellers, requested art donations and set up the feast. Also we solicited help from the RBC and they came through with enough help to ensure the success of this event.

Yup, that is correct. Our fundraising-storytelling-eating-art buying-event was a success. We wanted to help raise money for Fond du Lac’s Ojibwe Language Immersion Camp this summer, June 24th through the 27th. The learning will be happen at the north end of Big Lake at the newly named Kiwenz Campground.

My cousin Brenda and her staff had worked hard preparing the center for the evening. Chairs were set up in the gymnasium and tables and chairs were set up for the silent auction and for eating the feast. Pat Northrup and Ivy Vainio set up the donated art items on the tables and made sure there was a bid sheet and working pens so people could write down what they wanted to spend. Ivy was hovering around the art objects, answering questions. Vickie and Larry Ellis were doing the 50/50 cash raffle. Sarah Agaton Howes and Caleb Dunlap were handling the registration duties. We wanted to create a mailing list so those interested people could hear news of our language camp plans.

Pebaamibines, sometimes known as Dennis Jones, started the evening’s doings off the right way with a pipe ceremony. Bryon Jon, sometimes known as Bryon Jon, was the other half of the MC team. He used his pipe to also bless our get-together. We gave them a handwritten agenda and they took it from there.

Sandy Shabiash of the RBC was there to welcome the people to the event. The MC introduced the Northrup Road Players and we took off with the most recent production of Shinnob Jep. We made the audience laugh, we made them cry and that was all before we even started.

The Northrup Road Players had an emergency replacement for the John Johnson, Jr. character because our first two choices couldn’t act the part. One had to watch TV and the other wanted to sit on his couch. Randy Gresczyk filled in and acted just good in this production. It seemed like we just got started and it was over.

We had some great storytellers come to Sawyer to tell stories. Among the crowd favorites were Marcie Rendon, Sarah Agaton Howes, Al Hunter and Frank Montano, also Gordon Jourdain, Rick Gresczyk, Robert Desjarlait, Mizi-way Desjarlait, Darren Cobenais, Thorne Bordeaux, Wakinyan LaPointe and Leonard Moose.

We had some people signed up to tell stories but we ran out of time. Among the disappointed storytellers were Frank Montano, Donny Carufel, Rick Defoe and Michael Vanna. When we do this again we will make sure we have enough time for all of the storytellers.

A woman came up to me afterwards and told me she was glad she came with her mother. She said since her dad had died the year before she hadn’t seen her mother smile until she heard the storytellers. She added for the first time in a long time her mother felt proud to be an Anishinaabe.

Among the artists donating their work for the silent auction were Jim Denomie, Steve Premo, Charles Tuna Nahgahnub, Juanita Fineday, Sharon Shabiash, Vickie Ellis, Karen Savage Blue, Gerald White, Pat Northrup, Carrie Estey, Joe Fairbanks, Deb Jones Northrup, Joe Bakademakwa, and Ted Charles. Arnie Vainio donated a set of wrenches, Rick Gresczyk gave some of his Eagle Works books, and Al Hunter gave a signed book of his works.  

For the first time since it was built the Sawyer Center seemed crowded. It was gratifying to see so many people come together without a body laying in front of the room.
***Mii sa iw.