(Off)-Rez adventures with the Indian Scout


With uncharacteristic affability, the Scout suggested Danbury, Wis. as a destination. He did not explain why.

A year ago or longer he urged an Internet search for “Folle Avoine,” which I never found.

Rez Adventures is written by Deborah Locke, the editor of the Fond du Lac News in Cloquet, Minn.

Turns out the two were connected, and on a day as beautiful as days get, we drove separate vehicles to Hinckley and then drove one vehicle across the state border to Forts Folle Avoine Historical Park in Danbury. Tiki the Wonder Dog happily rode in the back seat.

At the park, a short road led from the Burnett County Historical Society building to the woodland edge and a replica Indian village. For hundreds of years, the area was home at various intervals to the Ojibwe, Odawa, Cree, Dakota, Fox and Sauk.

I was with the alpha Scout on this occasion, who for months grumbled about no time for going anywhere. Other Scouts have filled in, each performing admirably.

Since spring, the alpha Scout said he had paperwork to do or a project to finish or an earache from which to recover. Then one day his tone softened, his calendar cleared and without prodding, he became agreeable to a new adventure.

We set forth on Interstate 35 South, drove quickly to Hinckley and left my car in the Grand Casino parking lot.

The conversation on the final 40 minute leg of the trip was devoted disproportionately to cheese — perhaps a natural inclination as one heads into Wisconsin. The Scout and Mrs. Scout drive to Colby, Wis. each year for cheese blocks and cheese curds. Fresh cheese curds squeak when you bite into them, the Scout said.

He turned south at the Hole in the Wall Casino corner, and then west on County Road “U” and soon drove into the Center’s parking lot where we were met with at least 100 cars. The annual Folle Avione summer tea was in full swing. Inside the Center dozens of women in pastel clothing heard speeches of gratitude while eating foods with frosting. As they left, a few stooped to pat Tiki on the head.

“I miss my dog,” one said.

Tiki, more of a Walmart greeter than a mini Schnauzer, was tied up outside.

The Scout held the dog leash while I snapped pictures of the village nestled in the woods, complete with a smoking campfire. We noted a finished birch bark canoe, a wigwam, a dead fall bear trap, the maple sugar demonstration area, the wild rice demonstration area, and fake woodland animals. Tiki barked at the wood bear while rearing up on her hind legs.

We observed the Yellow River through the trees, pea soup-like in color and density. “You could almost walk across parts of the river,” said Steve Wierschem in a later phone interview. He’s the park director, and said the algae blooms in Yellow Lake give Yellow River its distinct color and smell.

We stopped by the Park’s fur trading post adjacent to the village, noting the simple furnishings of the small homes. The path led past old oak trees, to the Scout’s delight. (The man loves large trees.)

We entered a small field, the site of a 1900s farm located south of the Center. Two stunning pine trees dominated the view. To behold those trees alone made the drive worthwhile.

By late afternoon, the parking lot was empty. We left. After retrieving my car from the Hinckley casino parking lot, I turned south on I-35 for St. Paul; the Scout turned north for the Rez.

Tiki the Wonder Dog didn’t care where anyone turned, as long as a bowl of kibble appeared promptly at 6 p.m. She slept well that night, sputtering once in her sleep, maybe dreaming of big bears.

The Forts Folle Avoine Historical Park season ends in September, but private tours are given through October. For more information, call (715) 866-8890.