Here I am, where I ought to be. A writer must have a place where he or she feels this, a place to love and be irritated with.
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I write first drafts by hand. Never do I open an umbrella inside the house. I don't predict wins or losses. I used to stand on a certain piece of rug if my brothers and husband were watching football and their team got in trouble - but now the luck went out of that rug. If a circle is involved, I try to go clockwise.
My father is my biggest literary influence. Recently, I've been looking through his letters. He was in the National Guard when I was a child, and whenever he left, he would write to me. He wrote letters to me all through college, and we still correspond. His letters, and my mother's, are one of my life's treasures.
My grandfather was a persuasive man who made friends with people at every level of influence. In order to fight against our tribe's termination, he went to newspapers and politicians and urged them to advocate for our tribe in Washington. He also supported his family through the Depression as a truck farmer.
My mother is Turtle Mountain Chippewa, and she lived on her home reservation. My father taught there. He had just been discharged from the Air Force. He went to school on the GI Bill and got his teaching credentials. He is adventurous - he worked his way through Alaska at age seventeen and paid for his living expenses by winning at the poker table.
When I moved to Minnesota, I found there was a thriving and determined movement, a grassroots movement, to revitalize the Ojibwe language. And I've never come to be a competent speaker. I have to say that right now. But even learning the amount of Ojibwe that one can at my age is a life-altering experience.