Month: August 2007

Finally Available! — To Walk the Red Road

Finally — for those of you who have asked over the years — I have gotten permission to reprint TO WALK THE RED ROAD: MEMORIES OF THE RED LAKE OJIBWE PEOPLE. This is the book of oral history and historical photographs that the students at Red Lake high school collected as part of a project that I directed on the reservation in the late 1980’s. It is the book that brought me to Dan’s attention and became the impetus for the journey that resulted in Neither Wolf nor Dog.

Immediately after the publication of Neither Wolf nor Dog I began receiving inquiries about To Walk the Red Road because of the fact that Dan made mention of it in Neither Wolf nor Dog. I would direct people to Red Lake High School or the tribal archives at Red Lake, since the school held the copyright. But since we had printed so few of them and they had become so popular around the reservation and throughout Indian country, there were none to be had.

School districts are not notoriously wealthy entities, and those on reservations are especially poor. So there has been no money to reprint the book. But now, the school district has granted me permission to reprint a limited number on my own.

I am making them available to you through my sisters’ website, Go there and click on What’s New and follow your way down the text to the place where you can order To Walk the Red Road.

What you will find in this book is the voices of ordinary folks talking about their upbringing and their memories of what their elders told them. There are stories that range from one man’s memory of his grandfather being brought home on a travois after a battle with the Sioux to a woman’s recollection of making a joke to a white woman in a store that had the white woman believing that the Red Lakers made soup out of dogfood.

What makes these stories so wonderful is that they were told to the young people. These were not people talking to an anthropologist or professional interviewer. These are the parents’ and grandparents’ memories and teachings that they want their own children and grandchildren to hear.

I want this book to get out to the general public, so I will probably reprint this post several times in the future. If I don’t, it will simply scroll into obscurity, and new visitors to the website will not be aware of this wonderful treasure that is finally available to them.

I will also post a bit more about the book in the next few weeks. I’d like to share a few stories about its creation with all of you.

So, if you’re interested, go to and order your copy. You can, of course, order it as part of a gift box or basket or with Neither Wolf nor Dog if you know someone to whom you’d like to give Neither Wolf nor Dog and the book that helped bring it into being.

And to all of you who have waited — thanks for your patience.

A flood of Sadness, a Moment of Joy

I happened to be at our local airport when some of the local National Guard troops returned home from their service in Iraq.

Ours is a small airport where the planes come only a few times a day and you stand in the terminal watching the arriving passengers walk down stairs from the plane onto the tarmac only a few feet from you.

To see these young men and women step off the plane and rush into the arms of their families was a moment I will always cherish. In those embraces I was witness to the best of the unprotected human heart. It was as if all the suppressed fear and loneliness those young people had felt for all their time away had been left behind, and they were once again young American boys and girls who were happily in the embrace of their families.

I loathe this unnecessary war and the tiny man who started it, and not a day goes by when I don’t think of the mothers and babies and elders in Iraq who have died for our adventurism. But none of that cuts a whit into the feeling of joy and respect that I experienced seeing these young men and women return to the arms of their families.

I only wish we were welcoming them home from service in our forgotten city, New Orleans, which has been ignored by our government for two years to the day today, instead of from Iraq, where we are spending three billion dollars a week — yes, $3,000,000,000 a week — to serve some nefarious and ill defined purpose of a government run amok.

May we at some point in the future become the country we all know we can be, and reach out to help our fallen brothers and sisters rather than sending the best of our young people to advance the causes of men and women who see profit, not kindness and service, as the highest purpose of the American nation.