love it when I meet an American Indian who thoroughly enjoys being
Rez Salute: The Real Healer Dealer enjoys being American Indian
What comes with such an encounter typically includes a great
conversation filled with laughter.
This past Wednesday morning, I was in Washington, DC to cover
the reading of this country's apology to American Indians outside
the US Capitol. I met such an American Indian.
Upon meeting him the first time, I could sense I was with an
American Indian who loves being who he is as an American Indian.
I met American Indian author Jim Northrup that morning wearing
a jacket with a large Vietnam veteran patch on its back and with
a bear claw necklace around his neck.
Northrup is an award winning journalist, poet and playwright.
A member of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, he was
there Wednesday morning to read the country's apology in Ojibwe.
He and I had the opportunity to talk, laugh, talk and laugh
some more on a brisk December morning. Northrup is a funny man.
Being a natural born storyteller, turned author, he is full of great
stories, filled with humor. He quickly pointed out that his grandfather
Joseph Northrup was an author back in the 1930s.
He told me he had read from his newest book, "Rez Salute:
The Real Healer Dealer," the day before at the Museum of the
American Indian. He had an extra copy that he took out of his black
bag and graciously autographed for me.
What he handed me is a wonderfully funny book that is filled
with stories that illustrate the wisdom of his years.
"Rez Salute" is a collection several of his columns
called Fond du Lac Follies. The book covers the time span from 2002
to 2011. A previous book called "Anishinaabe Syndicated"
covered 1989 to 2001.
is the real deal in that he is Anishinaabe, a Vietnam veteran, Indian
boarding school survivor and birch bark basket maker. He clearly
understands being American Indian.
"Rez Salute" is a quick read that contains Northrup's
observations of life experiences. Being a Vietnam veteran, Northrup
discusses his reverence for the United States, while wondering on
paper the merits of war in Iraq. Being a student of his language,
Northrup writes a lot about Native language camps and workshops
He is not afraid to include his family into his stories; therefore,
the "Rez Salute" includes he and his family tapping maple
trees on the reservation and even making traditional baskets.
His columns are filled with interactions he has had with easily
recognizable American Indians names he encounters on his journeys
around the country.
As for the apology by the United States to American Indian people,
he addresses it in "Rez Salute." He writes: "First,
what good would it do? Second, what good would it do? Third, what
good would it do? An apology does not erase hundreds of years of
genocide. The Jews were not the only ones who had a holocaust. We
had one too."
Throughout "Rez Salute," Northrup's writings bear
out he is very comfortable in being American Indian. Meeting him
on Wednesday was one of the treats of my trip to Washington, DC.
"Rez Salute" is a treat I will savor for a long time.
Salute: The Real Healer Dealer
By Jim Northrup
Fulcrum Publishing | 222 pp | $13.49