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Winter is coming and so is Biboon Bimaadizimin

Leah Yellowbird's "Wolf," a work exhibited at AICHO. (Duluth News Tribune file photo)

Here in Onigamiising we are looking forward to the fourth annual Biboon Bimaadizimin, the arts and crafts event sponsored by the American Indian Community Housing Organization (AICHO). Everyone is welcome to attend this gathering of Native hospitality that celebrates creative work and community.

This year's Biboon Bimaadizimin (in Ojibwe language "We Live the Good Life in Winter") will be held on 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 25 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 26. Because of increasing turnout and interest, the event will take place at two locations on both days: at Trepanier Hall at 202 W. Second St. and at the old LaPanta store site, 2301 W. Superior St.

There is much to see and do at Biboon Bimaadizimin: great food, music and company make for a gathering that is great fun. An event like this takes a lot of work and a lot of pitching-in from across the community. The AICHO staff has been busy making arrangements and coordinating vendors and activities. Local artists and artisans are busy, too. There is a lot of talent and creativity here in the Onigamiising area and people are looking forward to sharing their work.

Nov. 25 and 26 are days that coincide with the beginning of holiday season shopping. Traditionally, the Friday after Thanksgiving is Black Friday and the more recent tradition of Small Business Saturday is the day after that. Both are opportunities to support local and regional businesses and individuals. Biboon Bimaadizimin will showcase local and regional arts and creative work: original art, fine art prints, photography, jewelry, beadwork, textiles, knitwear, scented soaps, handmade ornaments, pottery, wild rice, maple syrup, books by local artists and writers and many, many more unique gifts. And there will be some wonderful items donated for a fundraising raffle.

Biboon Bimaadizimin is for all ages and has something for everyone. While you look around and shop you can listen to live music and book readings by regional writers. You can stop to see live art demonstrations and there will be games for the kids. When you need a break and something to eat or drink you can purchase lunch or snacks: chili, frybread, truffles, tea and hot chocolate will all be available for sale. Did I mention frybread? It is worth mentioning again!

I have attended Biboon Bimaadizimin each of the past three years as both a shopper and a vendor, and I look forward to doing this again for its fourth year. I will bring my books and I have been doing a little sewing and some other miscellaneous projects. At my table I will get to see and talk with a variety of people, some of whom I have known all my life. We catch up on news about grandchildren, health, births and deaths, whose daughter has a new job, who has a couch to give away, etc. Some are experiencing their first-ever American Indian-sponsored event.

We vendors will take turns watching over each other's tables in order for everyone to get the chance to look and visit around and have something to eat. (We will keep an eye out for the batches of frybread.) New memories will be made: At the first Biboon a young Lakota man new to town sang a hand drum song in a voice so pure that I thought to myself, "Anjeni nagamo (an angel is singing)." At the second a little boy looking at Christmas ornaments asked his grandmother if she thought his mother would like one and how much they cost. Did he have enough money? He did, the grandmother said. He smiled and said that he would like to buy it. Last year the lady at the next table and I, chatting as we drank our coffee, discovered that we have common ancestors who attended the same Indian boarding schools. It's a small world, really, and the world of Indian country is as webbed and interconnected with stories and relatives as a dreamcatcher. It is magical and it happens all the time.

At the time that this column is being written, Mino Bimaadizimin has room for a few more vendors at both sites. If you would like to rent a table, call Moira at 722-7225.

Winter is coming. Let's celebrate Mino Bimaadizimin!

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