Reading Anishinaabe Syndicated is like sitting down and listening to Jim Northrup—and that’s a fine and entertaining way to spend your time.
Since 1989, Northrup has been writing the “Fond du Lac Follies” column, first for The Circle newspaper and then for syndication in several others. This collection spans 1989 to 2001.
Northrup keeps his pieces short, and this collection weaves vignettes together with sudden yet natural turns among such far-ranging topics as bingo and the fall of the Berlin Wall. He punctuates sections with good-humored jokes—sometimes silly, sometimes political, and sometimes just good rez humor.
“Question: What do you say to Anishinaabe actors before they go onstage?
“Answer: Break a legging.”
Northrup edits by reading his work aloud. No wonder the book has such an agreeable voice, capturing the dry wit of an adept observer of life who is both steeped in and practices his family and community traditions, yet has also traveled the world, first as a Marine and then as an author, artist and Ojibwe elder.
“Question: What did the Indian say when he saw a white man wading ashore?
“Answer: Is that a treaty in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?”
While he does not sugarcoat his critiques—be they of tribal government, U.S. politics or racist interactions—Northrup often shoots humor-coated barbs. His stories just as frequently involve family life, delighting in the grandchildren or relishing the seasonal gatherings of wild rice or at sugarbush.
“Question: What did the walleye say when he swam into the concrete wall?
This book is best savored slowly. Northrup’s easygoing style will have you reading passages or jokes aloud to friends and relatives. It might even inspire you to try a few of your own.
My question: What did the walleye say when he swam into a concrete wall while reading Anishinaabe Syndicated?
Answer: Dam good.