Cultural Anemia

   
For the fourth year in a row, I've spent my 4th of July in Red Cliff, Wisconsin. Red Cliff is a tiny Native American reservation north of Bayfield, WI, about 5 miles, and a stone's throw from the Apostle Island chain on Lake Superior or 'gichigami,' as they say in Ojibwe, and home to our 4-year old grandson.
 
Grandma, on his paternal side, has Metis as a part of her ancestry, and her son, our grandson's father, has Lakota as well, on his father's side. Our son and his son are very close to their Native heritage whereas, in contrast, I'm culturally anemic. My mother's parents and grandparents were Swede and Norwegian; and my father, by all counts, was Scots-Irish, neither of which was celebrated much when I was growing up except on Christmas or Thanksgiving when my mother would cook up a few pounds of reconstituted lutefisk in melted butter and urge me and my three sisters and their husbands to eat it--or at least taste it. As a child I disliked it, but for some strange reason, as an adult, I began eating it after I moved to true-north Minnesota where my mother was born--to the point of even craving it when local churches began posting fall supper dates and menus that included 'lutefisk.' But that, was as far as her culture took me. Okay, okay, she did teach me to count to ten in Norwegian--or was it Swedish? But that--absolutely--was it.

When I was growing up, we didn't attend Sons of Norway meetings, nor celebrate Syttende Mai, nor attend Norsk Hostfest gatherings. My sisters and I didn't sometimes wear scandanavian head-wear, shirts, pants or shoes on special occasions. I didn't wear short pants with suspenders or armbands--none of that. We didn't even have rosemaling in the house. No fjord horses. No gnomes in our front yard. No celebrations of any kind centering on her heritage. And, like I say, my father--other than being extremely good-looking, didn't pass any of his heritage along that we could hold up and say "This, is our ancestry," although my youngest sister was selected as City Beauty back in the 1960s; my other two sisters, lovely in their own right, landed highly successful husbands. Though I came up with the short end of the stick in the good-looks department have managed to accumulate three marriages in my short tenure of plus-six decades. However, this is neither here or there.

When I Googled "Top Events in the U.S." and managed to link to topeventsusa.com there was nothing scandanavian listed in the general list. The list began with something about Afro-Americans, continued on to include Dragon Boat Festivals, Top Fruit events and Gay Pride, Saint Patrick's Day, and Powwows--which doesn't surprise me in the least--and brings me directly back to the subject of my long weekend note pad that I scribbled on, whenever the opportunity arose or inspiration gripped me. Hence: "I Am An Observer: July 3, 4, 5th & 6th, 2014"

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