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Passage To The World

  

Category:  Entertainment

By:  kavika  •  last year  •  47 comments

Passage To The World

With all the means of communication and entertainment available to us today reading a book seems to have taken a back seat to TV, movies, social media including the internet. 

I still love to read a book, not a Kindle but a real book made of paper. The feel of the book in my hands, the smell of it, and the comfort that it brings when reading it and having my imagination give the story many different dimensions.  That is a feeling that social media cannot give me.

Let's go back in time to the 1940s and set the stage. I was born and raised on an Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota. There was no tv, no social media, and no computers, a few people had radios, but we did not. If there was a sidewalk it was made of wood. Most roads were dirt. Indoor plumbing (toilet) was not the order of the day. The heating was a pot-bellied wood-burning stove in one room of the house. If we were lucky lumps of coal would be available and that was found walking the railroad tracks where we would hope to find lumps of coal that fell off the ore trains that were heading to a distant place called, Duluth.  That meant in northern Minnesota that the other rooms were cold, sometimes very very cold. Twenty below zero was not a rare low and snow that reached the roof line of your house happened every winter. Air conditioning, never heard of it. If it was that hot in the summer it was a block of ice with a fan pushing the cold air about 5 feet.

Toys! If you were lucky enough to have a toy it was made of wood and you treasured it like it was gold. Money was scarce as was food, heat, and most other things.

The winters were long, cold, and difficult. The interesting thing was that we didn't know that it was a rugged life, we thought that it was that way everywhere.

The closest town was twenty miles away and not very accepting of Indians, in fact, it was a ''sundown town''. The rare trips there could be quite ugly for us but, again we thought it was the same everywhere. The town library was off-limits to Indians as were most of the stores in town.

Our rez school didn't have much in books, in fact, it didn't have much of anything and damn it was cold in the winter but it did have an indoor toilet, well kind of indoor. It was a wooden room attached to the side of the school and you had to leave the school and run around the corner to get into the toilet door. I guess you could say it was a ''modified'' indoor/outdoor toilet. 

What school never taught us was how to track game, hunt, fish, and choose the right plants and wild fruits in the forest that surrounded us. In other words how to survive and live with nature and become part of nature. Our parents/grandparents and all members of the village watched out for us and taught us. I learned how to speak Michif Cree and Anishinaabe from them. We learned our history and culture and how to survive and also how to play, swim in the lake and river and play Lacrosse, the Creators Game. Actually, the school was nothing more than teaching us to work in the fields and the girls to become maids. But that is another story which perhaps I'll tell you at a later time. 

One April, I believe that it was 1948 or 49 it was my birthday and Dad would make us a toy or something that was useful and mum would make our favorite food from what she could scrape together. 

On that day my Nookomis (grandmother) gave me a present for my birthday. It was wrapped in butcher's paper. For those of you who don't know what butcher paper is, it is the heavy white paper that butchers wrap their meat in. Today it's mostly plastic, but then I don't even remember if there was plastic. We sure didn't have any.

I unwrapped the present and was stunned to see a book. A real book just for me. My dad had a couple of books that I had read numerous times. Both were Zane Gray novels and I loved them. But here was a book that was mine, just for me.

The book was ''Call of the Wild'' by Jack London. It wasn't a new book, used at best and I don't know where or how my Nookomis could afford it or where she got it but she did. I had no idea who Jack London was or anything about his book. Later in life, I learned that she could not write in English, and reading it was at best difficult. She was fluent in Ojibwe, Michif Cree and French. She could speak pretty good English though. She looked at me and said something that I'll never forget. Animikii, (my Ojibwe name) this is your passage to the world. I didn't really know what she meant by that at the time, but looking back I now understand what a wise Nookomis she was.

I read that book dozens of times and enjoyed it each and every time. Lying in my bed on cold winter nights, the wind howling outside, lost in the book. I knew that I was there with Buck and we were fighting the forces of evil and we would always win. And we returned to the wild, just the two of us against the world.

Soon after that we got our first radio, but still, the book was my prized possession. It had opened an unknown world to me and I never wanted to lose that connection so I would read any book I could find, it didn't matter what it was. I never lost that wanting and decades later I still read numerous books of every description. 

Let's jump to the present. I'm now in my seventh decade, many say the autumn of my life. I still love to read and my taste has spread out to a number of areas.

The other night I was sitting in the great room of our new house, looking out over the mountains and lake. The trees turning colors and losing their leaves. Our great room is larger than the whole house that I grew up in. I thought to myself, you sure have come a long way Animikii. Then for some reason, I remembered the book. I still have the copy that my Nookomis gave me, old tattered, and worn, but it's my connection to my past and my Nookomis. I took the book off the shelf and opened it. It sits right next to my collection of Jack London's writings. White Fang, The Return of White Fang, and The Sea Wolf among many others. 

As soon as I turned the first page, the memories came flooding back from my childhood. A wonderful experience it was. Once again I realized what that gift from Nookomis did for me. It took me from a reservation in northern MN to places around the world, it educated me in a way no school ever could. It was my Passage to the World and contributed to any successes that I've had in my lifetime. It opened my mind to all things are possible and by reading you grow and when you grow your successes in life grow as well.

So, is there a moral to this story? Yes, there is we are our own educators, we are our own teachers, with the help of books.

Yes, that book opened a passage to the world for me.

Miigwetch Nookomis (thank you grandma)

Kavika 2012. All rights reserved.


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Kavika
Professor Principal
1  author  Kavika     last year

I wrote this eleven years ago and after reading the article on defunding public libraries I wanted to post this to see how important books and libraries are to us as a country.

Hope you enjoy the story.

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
1.1  devangelical  replied to  Kavika @1    last year

another great story, my friend. thank you.

I didn't keep a lot of my books and now wished I had. I don't read novels anymore, because I can't put them down. my reading is confined to the rare periodical or usually whatever I find on the internet that interests me.

Indoor plumbing (toilet) was not the order of the day. The heating was a pot-bellied wood-burning stove in one room of the house.

that part gave me a chuckle of familiarity, although it's the poor white kid version. my kids refuse to believe that when I was a child I lived on 2 mountain ranches where you had to use the outhouse in the dead of winter because the indoor plumbing was frozen solid for months. not all that terrible, if you're a male child, but I'm sure it was brutal for my mom and 2 younger sisters. for fresh water, it was a trip to the creek, chop a hole in the ice, haul the ice/water back to the cabin to boil before using it.

heat in that frozen hell was a propane heater in the center of the cabin, but there was a fireplace in the room too. you needed to be able to afford a full tank of propane when winter started, because there was no guarantee the gas truck would be able to get back to the ranch during the winter. the last winter we spent there, we ended up getting snowed in for 10 days and burnt the wood siding on one of the outbuildings to keep from freezing to death. my mom wasn't exactly thrilled about cooking by using the fireplace. we moved soon after the blizzard ended. 

the memories came flooding back from my childhood. A wonderful experience it was.

me, my siblings and my cousins were having too much fun to know we were poor.

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
1.1.1  author  Kavika   replied to  devangelical @1.1    last year

I love it, devan. 

Yeah, we had a lot of fun and really didn't know we were dirt ass poor. LOL

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
1.1.2  devangelical  replied to  Kavika @1.1.1    last year

most kids today don't know how to make their own fun and we did it every day.

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
1.1.3  devangelical  replied to  devangelical @1.1.2    last year

the best childhoods are the ones that when you look back on them and then wonder how you lived thru it...

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
1.1.4  author  Kavika   replied to  devangelical @1.1.3    last year

LOL, that is very true, devan.

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
1.1.5  devangelical  replied to  Kavika @1.1.4    last year

we were so far back in the hills you had to tune the TV just so you could listen to it.

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
1.1.6  author  Kavika   replied to  devangelical @1.1.5    last year

LOL, at least you had a TV.

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
1.1.7  devangelical  replied to  Kavika @1.1.6    last year

too bad the same thing showing on the screen was the same as what was happening outside...

 
 
 
pat wilson
Professor Participates
1.2  pat wilson  replied to  Kavika @1    last year

Great story of your early life and roots. I loved that book too.

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
1.2.1  author  Kavika   replied to  pat wilson @1.2    last year

Thanks, pat. That book is a prized possession of mine which I will pass on to my daughter and hopefully she'll past it on to her kids and their kids for many more generations.

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
1.3  Trout Giggles  replied to  Kavika @1    last year

Beautiful story, Kav! Thanks for posting it

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
1.3.1  author  Kavika   replied to  Trout Giggles @1.3    last year

Thanks, Trout.

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
1.4  Tessylo  replied to  Kavika @1    last year

You're a man after my own heart.  I love to read and I'm a huge Jack London fan from way back in the day and I just love your story regarding it.

Books are so great; they open up worlds. An adventure in your hands.

jrSmiley_93_smiley_image.jpg

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
1.4.1  author  Kavika   replied to  Tessylo @1.4    last year

Thanks, Tess.

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
1.4.2  devangelical  replied to  Tessylo @1.4    last year
An adventure in your hands.

er... no comment...

 
 
 
Just Jim NC TttH
Professor Principal
1.4.3  Just Jim NC TttH  replied to  devangelical @1.4.2    last year

jrSmiley_10_smiley_image.gif

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
1.4.4  Tessylo  replied to  devangelical @1.4.2    last year

jrSmiley_68_smiley_image.png

 
 
 
Gsquared
Professor Principal
2  Gsquared    last year

This is really wonderful.

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
2.1  author  Kavika   replied to  Gsquared @2    last year

Thanks, G.

 
 
 
Raven Wing
Professor Participates
3  Raven Wing    last year

Great story, Kavika. One like only you can write them. And more to come. jrSmiley_13_smiley_image.gif

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
3.1  author  Kavika   replied to  Raven Wing @3    last year

Thanks RW, and thanks for you tech knowledge.

 
 
 
Raven Wing
Professor Participates
3.1.1  Raven Wing  replied to  Kavika @3.1    last year

You're very welcome, Kavika. I am most happy to help where/how I can.  jrSmiley_79_smiley_image.gif

 
 
 
Ender
Professor Principal
4  Ender    last year

I read that book when I was young.

512

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
4.1  author  Kavika   replied to  Ender @4    last year

LOL, do you know the Ojibwe story of how the bat came to be?

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
4.1.1  devangelical  replied to  Kavika @4.1    last year

cool story. I took the family on vacation one year and we stopped at carlsbad caverns and took the tour. my boys were teenagers at the time. we learned about stalactites and stalagmites, how long they took to form and that the cave was home to thousands of bats. the ranger also mentioned that at one time the water coming from the cave was very pure, but not anymore, and asked the group if anyone knew why. after a short pause I ventured the guess "because of all the bat whiz?" my boys thought that was pretty funny along with the rest of the crowd. no, said the unamused ranger, it was because of all the farm chemicals that had leached into the soil. the mrs wasn't happy that I had embarrassed her.

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
4.1.2  author  Kavika   replied to  devangelical @4.1.1    last year

LOL, well it seems like a good answer. Bat guano is a great fertilizer.

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
4.1.3  devangelical  replied to  Kavika @4.1.2    last year

we're knee deep in it in other places around here...

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
Professor Principal
5  Perrie Halpern R.A.    last year

I never read that one of yours, and I have to say it was beautiful and touching. It was such an insight into how you became you, but also a great visit to a time past, that was beautiful in its own way. 

I can't tell you how much I enjoyed it! 

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
5.1  author  Kavika   replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @5    last year

Thanks very much, Perrie.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
6  Buzz of the Orient    last year

You have a library of stories - never read this one before, but very much enjoyed reading it and getting a picture of your younger years.  You draw very visible pictures with your descriptions.  I was fortunate in that my mother took me to the city library when I was young and let me read the books there - I spent a lot of time in the library those days reading my favourite stories, the Freddy Books, written by Walter R. Brooks.  I wonder if anyone else read them.

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
7  author  Kavika     last year

Thanks, Buzz.

I’m not familiar with the Freddy books.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
7.1  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Kavika @7    last year

Here's one you might get a kick out of now...

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Kavika
Professor Principal
7.1.1  author  Kavika   replied to  Buzz of the Orient @7.1    last year

That looks like a Florida stand off, Buzz..

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
7.1.2  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Kavika @7.1.1    last year

You mean the alligators are swimming their ground?

 
 
 
1stwarrior
Professor Participates
8  1stwarrior    last year

What can be said other than "Thank You" in the loudest and most sincere voice possible to your Nookomis and your heart for sharing.

Thank you Kavika - Megwich.

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
8.1  author  Kavika   replied to  1stwarrior @8    last year

Thanks, 1st.

 
 
 
evilone
Professor Guide
9  evilone    last year

Love it! Reminds me of combing through books shelves as a youngun and finding the book Fiddlefoot Jones of the North Woods. The story of two young boys who have adventures and listen to the stories of an old woodsman in Northern Minnesota. I still have the book.

original

One of the stories in the book is from Native American lore - How birds got all their colors.

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
9.1  author  Kavika   replied to  evilone @9    last year

OMG, I forgot all about that book. Great find, EG.

 
 
 
evilone
Professor Guide
9.1.1  evilone  replied to  Kavika @9.1    last year

Love this book. The stories are great and then all the nostalgia feels. I plan to read it to my grand daughter when she gets a bit older.

 
 
 
Thomas
Senior Guide
10  Thomas    last year

Ah,to be young again.  First off, thanks Kavika for your wonderful contributions to the site.

When I was younger I discovered the wonders of reading and have been transported through wonderful realms via the printed word. I read voraciously through my younger years, taking trips with Mole and Rat in "The Wind in the Willows" and picking cherries with "Jud" right through high school when Anne McCaffrey took me to Pern and Issac Asimov's words went into my eyeballs and played out scenes of The Foundation series in my imagination. 

I don't get the chance to read that much anymore because there are only so many hours in a day and only so many days in a lifetime and they get seemingly shorter every year. 

Thanks, Kavika, for the stroll along my memories and the guided paths along your imagination. 

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
10.1  author  Kavika   replied to  Thomas @10    last year
I don't get the chance to read that much anymore because there are only so many hours in a day and only so many days in a lifetime and they get seemingly shorter every year. 

I'm reading more again since I retired which gives me more spare time and I love it. 

Thanks, Kavika, for the stroll along my memories and the guided paths along your imagination. 

You're most welcome and it's my pleasure to stroll along path of memories.

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
Professor Expert
11  sandy-2021492    last year

Your Nookomis couldn't have chosen better.

I never experienced poverty like that, but money was always tight growing up.  We ate from a huge garden, and meat was mostly what Dad shot.  A bad year gardening or hunting was a financial hardship.

We heated with a wood stove.

AC was only for my parents' bedroom, so Dad could sleep during the heat of the day while working midnight shifts.

But if one of us wanted a book, they bought it.  Mom weeds out old books periodically, and there are still somehow bookcases full of books when she gets done. Some have gone home with me, and some with my brother.  My sis mostly reads e-books, because she travels for work.  But we all still share a love of reading.

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
11.1  author  Kavika   replied to  sandy-2021492 @11    last year
But if one of us wanted a book, they bought it.  Mom weeds out old books periodically, and there are still somehow bookcases full of books when she gets done. Some have gone home with me, and some with my brother.  My sis mostly reads e-books, because she travels for work.  But we all still share a love of reading.

It's difficult to weed out books, they all have a meaning to you and it's kinda like throwing out or giving away part of you and or your memories.

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
11.2  devangelical  replied to  sandy-2021492 @11    last year

my sister was a teacher and went back and got her masters in whatever they call librarians now, school resource something. she's retired now, but she has a bedroom filled with books. not on shelves, in boxes, stacked to the ceiling. it drives me batty. she does kindle too...???

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
11.2.1  author  Kavika   replied to  devangelical @11.2    last year

A book hoarder. LOL

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
11.2.2  devangelical  replied to  Kavika @11.2.1    last year

she also has a storage shed filled...

 
 

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