From Wigwam to Casino

22 Aug


Spirit of The Ojibwe by Sara Balbin

It would be a welcome relief from the mindless chattering about the addition of Ayn Rand fan boy Paul Ryan to the quadrennial circus we call the presidential election if there were some thoughtful, substantial and incisive commentary. But as Joshua Holland points in his thoughtful, substantial and incisive commentary:

It’s hard to imagine a greater irony than our political press, obsessed as it is with process stories, dubiously sourced rumors and trivial fluff, lamenting the fact that we can’t have a “serious national debate.”

My lamentations aside it occurred to me that instead of retaining his boyish affection for juvenile author Ayn Rand, Ryan need only look to the great Americans in his own neighborhood (Wisconsin and Minnesota) for some guidance in the practice of governance and forming real communities. It looks to me like America under the the first (and only real) Americans would be a healthier and more human society than the clusterfuck nation (thanks James Howard Kunstler) that we have now.

To that end I would call your attention to a lovely new tome,Spirit of the Ojibwe: Images of Lac Courte Oreilles Elders by Sara Balbin , Thelma Nayquonabe , James R. Bailey (Holy Cow! Press). This book collects 32 full color portraits painted by Sara Balbin accompanied by oraL biographies Chuck Leddy observes:

It would be a disservice to describe Spirit of the Ojibwe…as simply a book. Rather, it’s a multimedia cultural artifact — filled with wonderful paintings, terrific photographs and short biographies of tribal elders — that illustrates the powerful identity the Ojibwe have developed over centuries…
The legacy of these 32 tribal elders is in struggling against tough odds to keep Ojibwe traditions alive. The paintings drip with color and culture, displaying traditional tribal garb, gorgeous images of nature and the innate strength of the elders. There are no glorious triumphs here, no warriors on horseback leading war parties to victory….Balbin’s observant brush reveals quiet endurance — small victories carved out over time through traditional practices…

Currently reading City of Women by David R. Gillham (Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam)

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