The veteran Ojibwe storyteller and marine Jim Northrup is adding another accolade to his ever-growing list of accomplishments with a profile this month in Publisher’s Weekly, the foremost trade magazine for the book industry.
In addition his new novel, Dirty Copper (Fulcrum Publishing, 2014), comes out in June and has already been selected by the Midwest Independent Booksellers Association as a June Midwest Connections Picks, a nod afforded to only three books. The book is also highlighted in the Publisher’s Weekly profile, which covers not only that but also much of his life growing up on the rez, his years as a U.S. Marine, his stint in boarding school and his decision to become a writer.
That happened at age 15, when a journalism class assignment had him write up some general-interest questions about his school, Publisher’s Weekly recounted. He noted at the end that the answers to the questions could be found on page nine—and it was an eight-page paper.
“For months afterward, people were coming up to me, asking, ‘Hey, where’s page 9?’ ” he told Publisher’s Weekly. “I knew then that I wanted to be a writer.”
And a writer he is, with numerous awards to prove it.
Flush from a trip to Hungary to speak and give readings, Northrup has returned to the Fond du Lac Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota, where he lives a traditional Anishinaabe existence, as he puts it on his website.
He is also a fierce preserver of the Ojibwe language.
He draws his stories from his childhood and the rest of his life, with the protagonist in many of his books—including Dirty Copper—Luke Warmwater, dealing with life as a cop on the rez. Dirty Copper is the prequel to Walking the Rez Road (Voyageur Press, 1995 and recounts Warmwater’s reentry into civilian life after serving in Vietnam, according to Fulcrum.
“Once again, Luke is torn between duty and morality as he becomes a deputy sheriff on the Rez and sees firsthand the war raging below the appearance of peace,” Fulcrum summarizes.
Northrup told Publisher’s Weekly that the title stemmed from the epithet that kids would hurl at passing squad cars when he was growing up.
“Dirty copper, dirty copper!” they would yell. “It was a signal to split for the woods.”