Students in Touch with the Old Ways: An introduction to student writingAug 15th, 2001 | By jnorthrup | Category: Student 2001
By Jim Northrup
Boozhoo Biimaadiziig (Hello my fellow human beings). Bangii etago ninitaa-ojibwem idash, ninga-gagwejitoon ji ojbwemoyaan (I only know how to talk Ojibwe a little, but I’ll try). Jim Northrup niin indizhinikaaz zhaaganaashiimong (Jim Northrup is my name in the English language). Chi-beneshii indigo Ojibwemong (I am called Chi-beneshii in Ojibwe). Makwa niin nindoodem (My clan is bear). Naagachiwanong niin indoonjibaa (I am from the Fond du Lac Reservation).
What an honor to be asked to write an introduction to such a great body of work. I was impressed with the way some of the writers used the rhythms and sounds of the English language. I was especially impressed with two writers who used the Ojibwe language, Cindy Weaver and Damita Fedyn. These writers are doing themselves and their people a favor by writing in Ojibwe. Mii gwech (thank you).
“Twenty Sisters” by Mindy Jones-Ruby was my family’s favorite as I shared these words with them. Her feeling for family shows as she describes her sisters, maybe biological, maybe not.
In this collection of writing, I see young people who are in touch with the old ways, the old languages. I see survivors willing to look closely at the social problems that surround them. The writers let me know they are connected to a time and a place. Their writing is a way of giving back to the people. I think we will be seeing these names in print in the years to come. Mii gwech bizindawiyeg (thank you all for listening to me).
Jim Northrup is a poet, author, columnist, and storyteller best known for his column, “Fond du Lac Follies.” His poetry, short stories, and barbed humor were featured in a film about him, “Jim Northrup: With Reservations.”
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