In this chat, the inimitable Jim Northrup opens up in his endearing style, waxing poetic—literally—on ricing, talking about his ancestors as he soaks in the sunshine.
The Anishinaabe author sits placidly beside Dead Fish Lake on the Fond du Lac Reservation and talks easily with the camera and interviewer ?Ivy Vainio, affiliated with Grand Portage.
“Can you introduce yourself?” she asks. He complies—in Ojibwe. Then he switches to English, sort of.
“Today is the first day of manoominike,” he intones.
That would be the word for ricing, which is a verb in these parts.
“At one time a great chief lived on the south shore,” he says, gesturing to his right, “and my grandfather lived on the north shore—and his grandfather, and his grandfather, and his grandfather.”
Wild rice, or manoomin, figures in many Ojibwe stories, Northrup notes.
“It’s a gift from the Creator,” he says, soon after breaking into a poem.
In fact, such a gift is it that he cannot even think of a favorite memory when Vainio asks.
“It’s difficult to separate it down to the best memory," he says with a smile. "It’s just a continuous gift.”