In the late 1950s and into the '60s, the LeGarde and Drouillard cousins looked forward all year to our families' get-together the weekend before Christmas. This occurred at the Drouillard place in Twig, an old-fashioned red farmhouse with some outbuildings, all surrounded by woods.
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.
At our house the internet arrived sometime during the mid-1990s and it was quite a wonder. I remember getting on to the World Wide Web to access some information for a class paper I was writing. How amazing it was to be getting homework research done while sitting at home drinking cocoa! I called my dad, who enjoyed marveling at new inventions and ways of doing things, to share the experience. Remembering the technological gadgets in the Dick Tracy cartoon strip, we joked, what would they think of next? Two-way wrist radios? A space coupe?
Here in Onigamiising, fall semester classes at the University of Minnesota Duluth began on Aug. 29. In the week or so before that, faculty and staff began the move back into Cina Hall, which had been closed for over a year. Renovations included some much-needed heat and air quality work as well as nice bathrooms, new lighting and new wall coverings and flooring for the first-floor hallway.
Last week my cousin Mike shared a photo of Henry's Hamburgers on 26th Avenue East and London Road, circa 1961, on his Facebook page. Mike recalled that the path in the back of Henry's "led to one of the nicest areas on Lake Superior, known to us as 'Behind Henry's.' " He and his childhood buddies had a lot of fun memories of hanging out on the lakeshore in back of Henry's — building fires, tossing rocks into the lake, swimming in their underwear ... "Sure was private when we were young," he commented.
During this end-of-the-school-year season, we relatives and friends of students have the pleasure of attending many enjoyable concerts, programs and graduations. I have watched and listened to little children singing and older kids playing musical instruments; a granddaughter was promoted from middle to high school; a happy grandson graduated from Denfeld where his father, grandfather and great-grandfather, among other relatives, graduated.
University of Minnesota Duluth's commencement is held at the Amsoil Arena in two separate ceremonies, one in the morning (College of Education and Human Service Professions; College of Liberal Arts; School of Fine Arts) and one in the afternoon (Labovitz School of Business and Economics; College of Science and Engineering). As UMD has grown, so has the number of students graduating.
Here in Onigamiising, the Indian Education program staff and Parent Committee recently hosted get-togethers in which girls and women sewed ribbon skirts. Because I enjoy sewing, my daughter invited me to join the group. The skirt-sewing gatherings began with socializing and then a little explanation about ribbon skirts. Edye Howes, the coordinator of the ISD 709 Indian Education Program, brought in some of her own pretty skirts as examples.
Last weekend I saw a pair of sparkly sequined moccasins on a clearance rack at the mall. They were lined in faux fur and the size that one of my granddaughters wears. She loves moccasins, sparkles and cozy warm feet, and they were less than half-price. I wondered: Should I buy them? The young woman working at the store told me that they could be had for an additional 10 percent off. Sold!
Many of us begin the month of January by celebrating the start of a new year. We celebrate, visit and make resolutions to change our lifestyles for the better. (Well, as I said, "many." I will admit that I haven't ever made a New Year's resolution.) We think of January as a month of new beginnings, of fresh chances and starts. The Earth herself must feel this, too: on Jan. 1, New Year's Day, we are 10 days past the longest night of the year. Every day there are more hours of daylight. By the end of January, we can really see and feel it.