Below, an excerpt from Rez Salute: The Real Healer Dealer, the latest compilation of columns by Jim Northrup, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.
Question: How do you say “No hot dogs”?
Fond du Lac Follies motored again to Washington, D.C., to visit the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. This time we were invited to demonstrate how we make birch bark baskets. Patricia and I loaded the silver Silverado with tools and materials for making baskets and headed east. We were treated very well by the museum people. We set up our basket-making operation in the main rotunda. The doors of the museum were opened, and people came by to see what we were doing. The tourists came from many different countries, including the United States. The second day of demonstrating went well also. Pat and I explained what we were doing to the many visitors. The questions were intelligent, and people walked away with some new information. It was a delight working there.
The third day went well, too, but toward the end of the day our visit was marred by a white man with neck of red. With a sneer on his lip and in his voice, he told me Indians didn’t have clothespins two hundred years ago (we use them to hold the bark pieces together). What did they use then? I told him they used common sense, a split stick, or a temporary stitch. While he was digesting that, I asked him if he came to the museum by car or horse and buggy. He said a car brought him. Then I asked him why he expected me to live 200 years ago and he got to evolve. He didn’t answer, but then complimented me on how well I use the English language. I thanked him and told him it came in handy because I am also an author, playwright, poet and columnist. His neck turned redder, and he quickly walked away. The other tourists were laughing at him as he was leaving. I’ve seen his type before. All in all, it was a good trip to Washington, D.C. I would go back again if they asked.
Reprinted with permission from Fulcrum Publishing.