Holy Road


Honoring George W. Brown Jr.

LAC DU FLAMBEAU, Wis. - The Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa suffered a great loss March 15 when well-respected and honored tribal elder George W. Brown Jr. passed away after a long battle with diabetes. Born and raised in the ''Old Indian Village'' of Lac du Flambeau, Brown served the tribe for 42 years as a tribal council member and secretary.

Brown also served on numerous community organizations and is best known for his work in establishing the tribe's first museum, later dedicated in his honor as the George W. Brown Jr. Ojibwe Museum and Cultural Center.

In 1951, Brown was one of the original waaswaagan dancers who performed in the Indian Bowl amphitheater. Following in his father's footsteps, he later emceed the weekly pow wows, using his infamous sense of humor and his fancy dance steps to entertain the summertime crowds.

Brown's love of music led him to other performances, playing trumpet in the Haskell Institute band. He continued to share his musical talents in a jazz band he formed with his brother, Leonard ''Buddy'' Brown, and friend, Charlie ''Injun'' Peterson. ''The Brown Boys'' were popularly known around the Lakeland area during the 1950s, '60s and '70s. He loved Dixieland jazz and big band music, often imitating Dixieland icon Louis Armstrong. He was also a well-known singer at pow wows held throughout the region and, at one time, performed at the Smithsonian Institute.

Brown was a World War II veteran, proudly serving in the U.S. Navy from 1944 - '47 as Seaman First Class. He served in the Pacific theater on the USS-LST-826, and several Pacific Islands including Iwo Jima. He enjoyed attending reunions with his former shipmates. He was a lifelong member of the local American Legion Chicog-Skye Post 374.

Brown was the official bugler, playing Taps at military funerals and Memorial Day services.

Brown is survived by his wife of 55 years, Geraldine; daughters Georgine Brown and Geraldine ''Weeders'' Brown; a son, John Brown; a brother, Leonard ''Buddy'' Brown; a sister, Wanda Hunt; four grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by his parents, George W. Sr. and Sadie Brown; a brother, James Brown; and a sister, Violet Virts.