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Grampa Ben with unknown menI recently came across this picture of my grandfather, Benjamin Odawa Littlecreek posing with a group of unknown men. I would like to know who they are. He traveled extensively during the winters when he wasn’t working at his Trading Post at Itaska State Park in Minnesota. He often went to other countries. He worked at Itaska from about 1947 to at least 1960 (That’s when I think I was about 5 when I saw him there).  So I believe this was taken during that time period–most likely from the thin ties I would say in the fifties. At least it gives people a general period around which to look.

Who are these guys? Could they be Russians? Are they from the Minnesota state capitol? Are they U.S. Marshals? Does that weird column or lamp post on the right give any clues? The guy just on the right of gramps could be Indian, he could be Russian… Can anyone identify the badges? Any clues, help, or answers would be appreciated. If you work at the FBI, or the CIA, or MI6, or the KGB, or even the Minnesota Historical Society, anonymous, or other tips welcome.

 

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Hazy snow flurries.

Winter white waves

glisten in the headlights,

ebbing and flowing across the blacktop,

as I drive home late at night,

in Red Lake

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the sound

of the North Wind

 

rushing through the trees

 

all night long.

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Mom says, “Let’s stop and see if the bears are there.”

So we turn off into the dump grounds, where six large dumpsters are lined up on an asphalt pad inside a ten foot high chain link fence.

It is night.

Our headlights illuminate almost everything–to a height of about six feet.

The scene is ghostly.

A bear saunters out from between the dumpsters–wary, as any wild animal is on an Indian reservation.

He is huge for a bear, at least a good six hundred pounds.

He walks slowly away and out of the compound with a full white garbage bag clutched in his mouth.

He is followed closely by a black and white mother cat–her belly hanging down loosely–
as if she were his pet,
hoping for a morsel leftover from her master.

Another bear rises from scrounging within one of the far dumpsters.

His form towers three feet above its five foot high walls.

He regards us curiously.
then disappears again within.

Strangely enough, we do not see each bear.

They are holes in the night,
an absence of light
In the form of a bear

Although, at just the right angle,
we see the glint of their eyeshine–
the light of their spirit within them.

*Bears, plural, in Anishinabemowin.

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The Frogs are shaking their rattles

with no discernible rhythm.

 

They stand unseen

beyond the reach of the porch light.

surrounding the house

in the sultry night air

 

summoning me.

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Midnight in Red Lake.

The air is cool through the open bedroom window.

Dogs are barking.

Somewhere in the distance,

to the Northwest,

someone singin’ Indian.

Their song fades in and out.

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Four white pelicans surround the boat
squabbling for a chance at some cast off walleye.

Red lake is so big that rose haze permeates the horizon
in all four directions.

Some clouds are so low you reach up and touch them overhead,
while cirrus clouds lazily drift high in the sky.

Hear their cadence and accent as we commune.
Old friends reacquainted.

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