Rez Salute: The Real Healer Dealer
By Jim Northrup
Fulcrum Publishing | 222 pp | $13.49
Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Entertainment. Discussion »
I love it when I meet an American Indian who thoroughly enjoys being American Indian.
What comes with such an encounter typically includes a great conversation filled with laughter.
This past Wednesday morning, I was in Washington, DC to cover the reading of this country's apology to American Indians outside the US Capitol. I met such an American Indian.
Upon meeting him the first time, I could sense I was with an American Indian who loves being who he is as an American Indian.
I met American Indian author Jim Northrup that morning wearing a jacket with a large Vietnam veteran patch on its back and with a bear claw necklace around his neck.
Northrup is an award winning journalist, poet and playwright. A member of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, he was there Wednesday morning to read the country's apology in Ojibwe.
Author Jim Northrup in Washington DC Wednesday
He and I had the opportunity to talk, laugh, talk and laugh some more on a brisk December morning. Northrup is a funny man. Being a natural born storyteller, turned author, he is full of great stories, filled with humor. He quickly pointed out that his grandfather Joseph Northrup was an author back in the 1930s.
He told me he had read from his newest book, "Rez Salute: The Real Healer Dealer," the day before at the Museum of the American Indian. He had an extra copy that he took out of his black bag and graciously autographed for me.
What he handed me is a wonderfully funny book that is filled with stories that illustrate the wisdom of his years.
"Rez Salute" is a collection several of his columns called Fond du Lac Follies. The book covers the time span from 2002 to 2011. A previous book called "Anishinaabe Syndicated" covered 1989 to 2001.
Northrup is the real deal in that he is Anishinaabe, a Vietnam veteran, Indian boarding school survivor and birch bark basket maker. He clearly understands being American Indian.
"Rez Salute" is a quick read that contains Northrup's observations of life experiences. Being a Vietnam veteran, Northrup discusses his reverence for the United States, while wondering on paper the merits of war in Iraq. Being a student of his language, Northrup writes a lot about Native language camps and workshops
He is not afraid to include his family into his stories; therefore, the "Rez Salute" includes he and his family tapping maple trees on the reservation and even making traditional baskets.
His columns are filled with interactions he has had with easily recognizable American Indians names he encounters on his journeys around the country.
As for the apology by the United States to American Indian people, he addresses it in "Rez Salute." He writes: "First, what good would it do? Second, what good would it do? Third, what good would it do? An apology does not erase hundreds of years of genocide. The Jews were not the only ones who had a holocaust. We had one too."
Throughout "Rez Salute," Northrup's writings bear out he is very comfortable in being American Indian. Meeting him on Wednesday was one of the treats of my trip to Washington, DC.
"Rez Salute" is a treat I will savor for a long time.
posted December 22, 2012 8:57 am est