|My Brother and I on the Beach|
I am a Living Historian who became one by researching my own Family and finding that there were as many of my ancestors who were waiting on the shore as there were Immigrants who landed here on these barren shoals of Lake Superior some one hundred plus years ago.
I claim no official tribal affiliation since my makeup seems to be from both the Great Tribes of the Plains and the Eastern Woodland Monarchs known by many names going back more than a thousand years as well as a European mixture that leavens the loaf.
|My Dad's Family Homestead on Isle Royale|
Suffice it to say that I have had the mixed blessing of being identified with both European and Native Bloodlines. I grew up in a small mining town that knew full well my families back round and humble beginnings, I was treated to a barrage of names that I still wince from to this day as well as spending my school days relegated to the back of the classroom near the musty damp coats and boots of my classmates who would spend their summers at camp while I wandered the shores and rode the waves of an inland Sea.
Somehow, their parents having paid for their experience made it more valueble in their minds than my experience of living in humble makeshift camps or on board boats stacked with herring boxes. I actually pitied them in my heart, they just had no idea what they were missing.
I woke to moose lounging by the out house at dawn, stretching out their necks to sniff the small creature who shyly tiptoed by them to attend to my morning toilet. I fell asleep listening to wolf and wolverine singing out their territorial song with tremulous echoes across the vast cold water bays that were too cold to bathe in, and yet we did.
|Our Friend and Neighbor Uncle Pete|
I saw places were no man had set foot for generations, ancient copper mines that looked as if the occupants had just laid down their hammer stones in neat piles and stepped out of the picture just moments before. The fire pits still held coals, the lodge frames still intact and waiting their birch bark covers. These scenes change what you are inside, and once beheld, never forgotten in the slightest detail no matter what time has passed and what great events have occurred since.
I bore my classmates scorn with courage borne of a stubborn conviction that regardless of where I was from or who my people were, I was better than those who would denegrade me simply for my appearance and lineage. My Mother raised me to be proud of my perceived imperfections, something that has served me well for the two score and ten I have burdened this planet with my visage.
I claim my Mother's place of birth and the area of my most important formative years as my homeland, a place on the Canadian Border of Minnesota called Grand Portage. Here lies a land rich in history and myth, the Land of Gitche Gumme, The Lake of Hiawatha, the Greatest Freshwater Body of Water in the World called aptly, Lake Superior.
|My Grandfather and His Boats|
I spent my formative years on the Lake in both my Grandfather's and Father's Boats, commercial fishing, delivering the milk and mail to the misty Isle Royale and wandering the beaches of her rugged shores in search of washed up treasure.
I spent countless evenings at the knee of every Elder I could cling to listening to the stories of the past, of the region so lost in time and imagination. Of Sea Monsters, Stone Boat People, Mermaids and Men with murderous intent to the humans who tangled and drown them in their fishing nets unintentionally. Of Thunder Birds and Giant Snakes that ruled the planet before man took his place on this land. Such were my bedtime stories.
I learned of simple medicines and herbs that grew in the woods, how to collect them and how to prepare them by tagging along with anyone who was going out to gather such things, regrettably most time forgotten and buried in my mind now.
I learned to hand sew and do bead work at an early age, as well a birch bark baskets and other woods woman skills I still practice to this day. I seasonally picked berries, helped process and preserve wild game, cleaned fish, kept a garden and cooked Native Foods. I knitted, crocheted and needle pointed my way across vast stretches on canvas.
|My Mom at Hollow Rock Creek|
My Mother was relentless in her denial of my pleas to be able to sew on her converted treadle sewing machine as the other girls did in my school, she quieted me by telling me I was a seventh generation seamstress and that I ought to learn to sew with my hands first.
So I did, and to this day, I can produce a better seam on any garment by hand than anyone can on a machine, and in less time than it takes to pull it out, set it up and plug it in.
She taught me the importance of draping fabric and to enjoy the feel and texture of natural fiber cloth. By the time I was a teenager, I had helped hand sew a complete wedding dress with hoops and several other garments my Mother made and gifted to deserving Family members.
I will always be grateful for her stubborn insistence that I sit up arrow straight while I stitched and never do anything other than my best, no matter how trivial the project. I darned socks and mended coats, patched jeans and hemmed skirts.
I ironed and pressed my way through mountains of laundry, to this day it is still one of my favorite activities if I have the time and space to do it, but the value of it was lost on me at the time I learned it, I would have rather been outside playing in the woods, making wild daisy flower bunches and dandelion hair wreaths.
No matter what my heritage truly is doesn't matter. I was raised in a way that set my course and created my identity. It is too late for me to try and be something I am not, though at one time I took a run at the Ivory tower, the fenced in yard and the urban life. I even became a Professional Corporate Lackey at one stage of my often changing life.
|The Witch Tree Near our Family Homestead|
It made me unhappy. It made me depressed. I am glad I experienced it because now I know for certain there is no sense in me pining for something that I can never enjoy.
I like being a Nomad, moving from one place to another, meeting people of a like mind, who carve out a simple existence working with their hands. I love the every changing scenery of a beautiful country made for such as myself, wandering vagabonds who see her merits in her open prairie lands and solemn forests.
I love learning her history, both real and imagined, and yet very unique among all nations and countries. We are well suited to each other and some day I will take my rest within her and sleep well.
|Examining The Past at the Chicago Field History Museum|
But I am also of Scandinavian Heritage and have a double dose of Native and Viking stubbornness a mile long for finding out the truth, no matter how long the journey, which brings us to the present.
I have spent the better part of 15 years examining, documenting and studying the clothing and lifestyle of Native American Women.
|My Ojibway Wool Strap Dress|
I surpassed obsession and have entered a zone of total immersion Isle of Avalon or the Kingdom of Camelot. Here I am happy.
Every once and a while I come up for air and share my knowledge here in the hopes that someone will come forward and add to my experience by giving me some feedback on my progress.
What started as a private blog for on the road note keeping has turned into a resource in itself for others on the path for truth. I hope it helps you find your way and I would love to hear your thoughts about in one way or the other so we may all learn from it.
|My Two Hide Elk Plains Dress|