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20200319_191439If I were to die tomorrow…
The thought has crossed my mind a few times today. What with Corvid-19 going around and being 65 and a hypochondriac. I have the dry cough, sore red throat, and congestion. Wifie says the virus kills the cilia lining the throat. You can’t cough stuff up so you get pneumonia and die.

So, if I were to die tomorrow. I wouldn’t be too upset. A sudden illness and quick death would be much better to me than say, a slow decline into Alzheimers. Better to rip the bandage off quickly than to peel it back slowly.

Hm. All this imagery.

I suppose I’m not too worried because I have certain expectations of death. It will be like the next horizon. The undiscovered country. When I stand there, you’ll see me, but you won’t see those whom I see on the other side of the hill. There are the people I leave behind and the people I meet: generations of family members, friends, acquaintances, and strangers for whom I’ve done so many things I don’t remember.

Life’s been good. For the past 33 years. I’ve had a better half who has kept my heart warm, life challenging, and to whose presence I’ve looked forward every morning. If it’s true that “man is, that he might have joy”, then, having “endured to the end”, I have “fulfilled the measure of my creation”.

I do have my regrets though. I wish I were more brave, and could have said those things I wanted for my family and friends, to them. I’ve partially hidden behind a facade of “live and let live”, and Zen. That if people wanted to change, wanted more, they would have pursued it.

But that’s not totally true either. People are sometimes afraid, and that fear can keep them from what they want. Just as my fear of rejection keeps me from sharing what I want for them. Perhaps if I had said something, I could have helped them with their fear.

I know there is no letting someone do something. I can’t control my family, friends, and acquaintances, but, I can influence you.

So if I were to die tomorrow, tonight I would say to you, “Be Good”. Most of the troubles we endure, we create ourselves. Live while looking forward with an eye of faith to the undiscovered country. Life is eternal.

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20200306_112700The full title reads: ” “Chippewa Indians of Minnesota, Incorporated” — BallClub, July 13-15, 1920. Benjamin Caswell, of Cass Lake, President” “and in another place “Rich” Photo –Bemidji–

I found this photo in my Grandmother’s shed. Having cleaned it out a few months after she died in 1985. “Lizzy” Elizabeth Joyce Mason is the girl with the bow in her hair on the far left. She was 14 then.

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To the left of her is my Great -Grandfather, “Neogeshig”, or Thomas Jefferson Jerome Mason. You can tell from his visage that Littlecreek men received many facial characteristics from him. 🙂

He’s holding Helen C. Mason, age 2, and I believe that little boy half hiding behind his pant leg to the left of him is either his son Vilas, age 6, or son Thomas Jr., age 7.

I figured I’d better put this photograph online somewhere so others could benefit from it–since it’s been sitting on top of my dresser all these years.

I am amazed at the amount of personal family history contained in this photograph. Who are all these people???

The expression of their genes is so strong, I think I would recognize their descendants from this picture! Let me know if you know any of them.

After uploading the whole photo,  I noticed that it was compressed so much that I couldn’t really identify anyone, so I’m adding enlarged sections of it above and below.

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I’m guessing that the man sitting apart from the others in the front bottom row, as a place of prominence, is Benjamin Caswell. Can anyone confirm this?20200306_125403

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Aren’t phone cameras great?

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A reader previously asked the question of whether I knew of any other clans in the Red Lake System. At that time I did not. But I’m pleasantly surprised to learn, and pleased to share, that more existed in antiquity. Here is the source of that knowledge:

From the Bulletin of the Minnesota Academy of Natural Sciences, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Volume 2, 1880-1882, Red Lake Notes. Pages 99-100.
Totems of Red Lake Odjibwas. –Herewith is subjoined, in the hope that it may be of use for future reference, a list of the totems of the Red Lake band of Odjibwas. There were named to the writer by the old chief, Little Rock, who is a leading medicine man belonging to the grand medicine, as it is called, and who was pointed out as authority in the matter under investigation. Miss Mary Warren, to whom Odjibwa and English are alike mother tongues, kindly undertook to act as interpreter in the case. This cultivated lady is thoroughly conversant, not only with the purely theoretical range of the totem system, but likewise with its practical workings and she has taken especial pains to ensure a precise translation in the present instance.
TOTEMS OF RED LAKE ODJIBWAS
Bald Eagle,      Eagle,          Lynx,           Snake,
Bear,                 Eelpout      Marten,       Sturgeon,
Catfish,             Elk,             Mermaid,    Wolf,
Crane,               Loon,         Moose,         Woodpecker,
Rabbit,             River.

A Rabbit totem, or clan, and also a River totem, are found among the Odjibwas: but it is the belief of Little Rock that no representatives of these totems are at present living at Red Lake.
The Bald Eagle totem, and the Eagle totem, represents each, a clan altogether distinct from the other and independent of it.
The Loon clan was formerly a large one here. Mr. warren tells us concerning it that in olden times when the civil policy of the tribe was much mixed up with their religious and medicinal rites, “the totem of the Mong (Loon) ruled over them, and Musk-wa, or Bear totem, led them to war.” May-zhuck-ke-osh, former head brave of the Red Lake band, is of the Bear Totem.
The Martens, and next below them in point of numbers, the Bears, are held to be the two largest of the lake clans.
The term Mermaid stands out in such bold relief, as embodying an idea naturally foreign to an aboriginal and especially to an inland tribe of savages, that, at first, I hesitated to accept it as a correct exponent of the thing meant. However, I was assured by both Little Rock and Miss Warren, that the Odjibwa totem name under consideration is really properly translated by this word, and further, that the word signifies with the Red Lakers what it does with us; but I could get no clue to the origin of the myth thus curiously brought forward. I have since learned that these people formerly believed their lake to be haunted by mermaids.
While a red Lake Odjibwa will never name himself to a second person if he can avoid the necessity, he is always quite willing to mention his “family mark” or totem. The latter trait is prominently exhibited at the government school, where the pupils are prompt to exchange genealogical confidence with their friends, and to assert the ties of clanship as well as consanguinity.

[ My note: This, contrasted with the present 7 clans, just goes to show that tribal culture is a dynamic and changing thing! ]

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Every once in a while an Indian (read American Indian) will give a friend or family member a nickname. Sometimes these names are given just for fun, other times they are given to help that person be humble. “Dances With Wolves” comes to mind.

I actually know some of my aunts and uncles by their nicknames: Ishky, Bunny, and Boogens are three.

I told my wife that I finally figured out what her Indian nickname was.

“Well, what is it?”, she asked.

“Too Many Pillows”, I said.

She laughed… because she knew it was true.

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I hear the crows converse,
I see the cloudy skies.

I feel it pleasantly cool outside,
in Red Lake.

How strange,

that I will miss the amusing sounds of the crows,
the melancholy overcast skies,
and the invigorating feel of the cool air,
when I return to someplace else
where I live.

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I found this picture while searching for family photos at the Minnesota Historical Society way back in ’77. (1977, not 1877)

I managed to find out where I could write to Bob Hope at the time and sent him a copy, hoping that he might have some information about it. I received this letter from him along with my returned photo.
Bob Hope Letter
Mr. Hope couldn’t provide me with any new information except to suggest it may have been taken in a studio. (I was thinking Cali-for-nii-aa) but I was pleased nonetheless to have received a personal letter back along with his autograph!

I recently signed up for a five day free trial of Newspapers.com (I needed a credit card but was told how I could easily cancel my trial before the five days were up.)
During that period, I pretty much dedicated myself to looking up as many possible Ancestor references for myself and friends who were interested. I probably looked at a thousand possible articles and was rewarded with a score or more, which I “Clipped” and then downloaded. This was one of them.
Bob Hope and Ben Littlecreek at the Nicollet Hotel
Yep, same top hat, same sport coat, same two people. BINGO!!! Mystery solved.

Part of the article reads:

“Forever a gagster, Bob Hope invaded Minneapolis Monday. He put on a two-hour stage show in Minneapolis Auditorium. Sang a duet with Mayor Eric G. Hoyer, said nasty things about Bing Crosby, and was made an honorary Indian. Most of the shenanigans took place in Nicollet Hotel, where, among other things, the ski-nosed comedian attended a dinner put on by the Theadore Peterson American Legion Post.

*   *   *

In Picture below, Hope meets Chief Ben Littlecreek of the Red Lake Chippewa Indian Tribe. Hope made the Chief an honorary “Paleface”, from the movie by the same name.”

As a side note, I like Hope’s irony here. That’s the first time I’ve heard of an Indian being made an honorary Paleface!

All kidding aside, for you genealogy buffs out there, Try the Newspaper.com free Trial. It was worth it! (And, they actually made cancelling the trial easy!) All irony aside, I will pay for a subscription–which I can get for just one month if I want–should I need to research other ancestors in the future.

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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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