Our church recently sent 18 people to Red Cliff, Wisconsin on a week-long service project. We went to serve the Red Cliff band of the
Ojibwe people. We stained decks, painted a house, installed a screen door, roofed a house, spruced-up their campsite, and helped with their meals-on-wheels program – but we got much, much more in return.
The old school Geekdad turned up as we picked wild berries, followed animal tracks, enjoyed pristine outdoor settings, and learned some
Native American crafts.
A little over a week ago I traded the vehicle on the right for the vehicle on the left.
However, I also traded a view of a windowless cubicle for a week for this view of
Lake Superior every morning near the Apostle Islands….
I’ll call it even.
The weather was hot and we worked hard every day. At night, after dinner cooked over a campfire, we’d explore near the campsite or sometimes go places with our host.
One of the tribal elders took us to Raspberry Bay – a section of Wisconsin that has been untouched for decades. We gathered wild blueberries, wild juneberries, and found evidence that bears do relieve themselves in the woods. We also got to see bear (and bear-cub) tracks, deer and fawn tracks, and beaver sticks – sticks chewed by beavers to make a dam. Wild rice grows in the area and we were shown how it gets harvested by the tribe in the fall.
Grandma Jen, a revered member of the Red Cliff band, taught our group how to make bead necklaces. There’s nothing quite like one tiny woman commanding the attention of nearly 20 people as she helped pass on her craft to other generations. Since returning home, the GeekMom has made three different necklaces and has plans for many more.
If you ever get a chance to travel to northern Wisconsin, take a day or so to stop by
Red Cliff. They are a generous group of people who are passionate about their culture. Our church team had a fantastic week, and we can highly recommend the Buffalo
Bay campground on the edge of Lake Superior. We also suggest stopping by the Ojibway Indian Trading Post on Highway 13 – you might just run into Grandma Jen.