Newspaper veteran gives a glimpse of modern-day Ojibwe reservation life

Each day leading up to the April 14 announcement of the Minnesota Book Awards, we highlight one of the thirty-two finalists. Today we feature 2012 Minnesota Finalist:

Anishinaabe Syndicated: A View from the Rez
Jim Northrup

Minnesota Historical Society Press

Category Sponsor: Xcel Energy


The 1990s brought enormous changes in Native American treaty rights, casino gambling, language renewal, and tribal sovereignty. Jim Northrup, an Ojibwe and newspaper columnist, uses stories from his own experience to document this transformative decade. The author’s excerpts tally change as he spears walleye, raises a grandson, harvests wild rice, fixes rez cars, attends powwows, and jets across the country and across the ocean to tell stories.

An excerpt from Anishinaabe Syndicated:

We are tapping maple trees again as we do every year. As I travel around Indian country, I see more and more Indian people going to the sugar bush.

Niinawind ozhiga’ige miinawa niinawind gwayakochige akina gikinoonowin. Amanj’igo apii niin babaamaadizi giiwitaa-ayi’ii Anishinaabewaki, niin waabi eshkam Anishinaabeg izhaa iskigamizigan.

The crows told us it was time for making maple syrup. Two bald eagles flew over the fire when we were boiling the water out of the sap.

We have a small sugar bush, barely over a hundred taps. We take only what we need for feasts and funerals, gifts and pancakes.

Once again it was a learning experience for our grandchildren. They helped us gather the sap from the trees. They are too young to help with the boiling, so they just watched, and listened when we told sugar bush stories.

We watched winter turn into spring. The sun was warm and reminded us of summer. The wind was cold and was a reminder of the winter that just left.

Making syrup is just a lot of work. Sometimes it is hard work, but most of the time is spent just staring at the fire, watching the sap so it doesn’t burn. We spend hours cutting firewood.


Jim Northrup is an award-winning journalist, poet, and playwright. His previous works include Rez Road Follies and Walking the Rez Road.


“Norhtrup’s candor on what some people might consider touchy subjects really makes this book.”
– Minnesota Book Awards judge

“Jim Northrup reminds us not to forget the ancestors and veterans, and the traditions, and the treaty rights and languages of the American Americans. His honesty and wisdom, and his courage and insight inspire us to walk the walk and respect the earth and one another.”
– Rick Gresczyk Sr., Ojibwe language instructor, Augsburg College

“Jim Northrup takes the lies told about the Indians and the lies we like to tell ourselves and skins them until there is nothing left but laughter. And from that he manages – as only Northrup can do – to make the truth out of it. Pointed, wry, deadpan, exuberant, Anishinaabe Syndicated is a miracle, a hilarious one at that. Jim Northrup makes me proud to be Ojibwe and grateful I can read about it.
– David Treuer, author Native American Fiction: A User’s Manual and The Translation of Dr. Apelles


Award winners will be announced at the 24th Annual Minnesota Book Awards Gala on Saturday, April 14, 2012 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel – Saint Paul Riverfront. The opening reception begins at 7 p.m. followed by the awards ceremony at 8 p.m. New this year: a post-awards “Epilogue Celebration.” Tickets are available online or by calling 651-222-3242. Click here for more information.

Have you read Anishinaabe Syndicated? What are your thoughts? We welcome your comments!


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