Today was my first biking day; Richard took the kayak across Cass Lake and Mac scoped out an excellent new (free) campsite for us SE of Winniebegoshish that can be headquarters for a few days…
I decided to backtrack to the town of Cass Lake before heading on, and I am so very glad I went there.
It’s a very small town – the sign says pop. 170, so there are probably more people vacationing in the campsite a couple miles away than there are inhabiting the actual town. The main street has a municipal center with a cool mural, and a bunch of services: drop-in health center, senior center, daycare, library. at the end of the main street is a house with an array of handmade murals in front and the smell of sage wafting from the chimney. I stopped to read and take pictures of the signs, and a woman came from down the street to ask if I was a reporter, and she explained that a big oil company has paid the Ojibwe Nation $10 million to be allowed to run a pipeline through Ojibwe lands, and the signs are protesting this, asking for the deal not to happen.
The woman, Nancy, is a teacher in the public school at Cass Lake, where 85 percent of the students are Native, and they do teach Ojibwe in the school. There is also a BIA school, and a college as well. She told me something about the “boarding schools” where Native kids were sent well into the 50’s, which were more like re-education camps. You can learn more about this history here. With a history like this, it must be hard to regard education as the ticket to a better life, that’s for sure…
Nancy was really generous with her time and spirit, and I really enjoyed and learned from our time together. When I got back on the bike path, I noticed for the first time these posts, placed every 500 feet or so. clever, right? you do this nice environmentally sensitive thing of putting in a bike path, and you run your oil pipeline right underneath it.
”It’s so peaceful here. I just love it!“ said a woman heading into the showers at Cass Lake campground this morning, having driven there from her campsite a tiny walk away