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Generations SPRING 2022



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Daughter of Former Ethos Hospice Patient

Generations A magazine for and about seniors

Melissa Swenson, Publisher Marie Johnson, Editor Viola Anderson, Circulation Manager Jamie Holte, Magazine Design Cover Photo by Marie Johnson

Supplement to the Detroit Lakes Tribune March 27, 2022

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Stepping out with the DL Cloggers


Meet your (mentorship) match

17 22

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Dave Jopp reflects on a life-changing mentorship experience White Earth elder Mike Swan helps Native American kids explore their creativity

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Stepping out with the DL Cloggers Dancing group has been part of the local entertainment scene since 2004 By Vicki Gerdes | For Generations



hey get together every Tuesday afternoon to do a little socializing, catch up on all the latest gossip — and dance. The DL Cloggers have been a part of the Detroit Lakes entertainment scene since 2004, with membership that has included cloggers of all ages and abilities. “At most, there were 14 of us,” says the group’s historian, Darlene Paulson. “Now, we’re down to six.” They’re always open to new members. “Come and join us!” exclaimed the group’s newest member, Lil Lofgren, who joined in 2019. “We give lessons,” added Paulson. Ruby Kiihn, who founded the DL Cloggers, says she got the idea from watching another group perform at a craft show in Bismarck, N.D. GENERATIONS SPRING 2022 | 7

“I told my sister (Bev Berg, who was at the craft show with her), ‘They’re having too much fun; we have to learn how to do this,’” Kiihn recalled. Her sister’s answer? “Don’t look at me, I’m not making a fool of myself!” And now, 18 years later, “Bev almost never misses a rehearsal,” Kiihn says with a smile. In the beginning, the erstwhile cloggers hired a teacher from Fargo, Dee Dee Hallada, to come in and teach them once a week. “We brought some friends, who brought their friends, and we started learning to clog,” Kiihn says. Gradually, they got good enough to perform in public — though their first “gig” was a bit of a surprise. “Someone called from Judd, N.D., and asked if we could clog at their centennial,” Kiihn says. “I was baffled, to say the least. We’d never performed anywhere.” When this person asked how much they would charge, Kiihn responded, “How much will you pay?”

We’re not famous or perfect. We’re simply rural women who have a blast dancing together for the enjoyment of others. – RUBY KIIHN, quoted in a 2008 Country Woman article

When they responded, “$250,” Kiihn recalls, “That’s when I fell off the chair.” That first large-scale performance, in front of an audience of about 600 people, took place right out on the street. “They put some boards out on the street, and we danced on them,” Kiihn says. Virtual Opportunities available due to Covid-19

In the years since, they’ve performed in three different states — Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota — at venues ranging from the local nursing home to the Fargo Theatre. The latter performance took place in 2007. “The Fargo Theatre put out a call for nominations of local ‘church basement ladies,’” Kiihn recalls — and one of her fellow parishioners at Grace Lutheran Church, Kathy Coyle, nominated her for the honor. Much to Kiihn’s astonishment, she was chosen. “So I became ‘Church Basement Lady of the Year,’” Kiihn says — and her clogging group became the opening act for the Fargo Theatre’s production of the popular musical comedy, “Church Basement Ladies.” Their services as clogging teachers have also been sought after; Kiihn recalls one such instance, in 2008, when Detroit Lakes High School student Justin Stanton asked them to teach him how to clog. “I said, ‘Sure,’” Kiihn says — not


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The six women of the DL Cloggers are, from left to right: Ruby Kiihn, Lil Lofgren, Darlene Paulson, Margie Kessler, DeAnn Gottsman and Bev Berg. Marie Johnson / Generations

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realizing that Stanton expected to learn the basic steps in just three days, for a “Mr. DLHS” talent competition, which raised funds for the participants’ favorite charities. In order to maximize his chances of winning, Stanton brought the ladies along to act as his “backup dancers.” “That was a lot of fun,” Kiihn says — and best of all, he won. Other performance venues have included the flatbed of a semi, as it traveled along the Parade of the Northwest route during Detroit Lakes’ Northwest Water Carnival — “we’ve done that four times,” Paulson says — and most recently, the stage of the Detroit Lakes Pavilion, as part of a Heritage Fest celebration held in September 2021. “I wasn’t sure I was ready for that

We may not have it all together, but together we have it all. – THE DL CLOGGERS’ MOTTO one, as we hadn’t performed in a while (due to COVID-19 safety restrictions),” Kiihn recalls, “but once I got up there, I felt like I was 18 again. We had a blast.” While they have occasionally performed at conventions and summer

The DL Cloggers performed at a Heritage Fest event hosted by the Becker County Museum at the Detroit Lakes Pavilion in the fall of 2021. Detroit Lakes Tribune File Photo

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festivals, the majority of the cloggers’ performances take place at area retirement communities and nursing homes, churches and veterans’ hospitals, she adds — though even those have slowed down considerably as a result of the ongoing pandemic. “The most performances we’ve had in one year was 36,” Paulson says, adding, “That was a lot.” “The most we’ve had in one day was in Fargo, where we performed at three different places and danced at least six times,” Kiihn adds. In 2008, the DL Cloggers were featured in the international women’s magazine, Country Woman, after Kiihn, a longtime subscriber, saw an advertisement asking for readers to submit stories that “might be of interest” to other readers. A few months later, the magazine’s editor called — and the rest was history. That article, “Keep on Clogging: Step right up and meet Minnesota’s dancing queens,” was featured in the magazine’s February/March 2008 issue, and the group was subsequently featured in the Detroit Lakes Tribune’s “Friends and Neighbors” column, as well. Though they have occasionally garnered local fame, however, the group remains humble: “We’re not famous or perfect,” Kiihn was quoted as saying in that Country Woman article. “We’re simply rural women who have a blast dancing together for the enjoyment of others.” “What’s our motto?” Kiihn asked her fellow cloggers at a recent rehearsal. “We may not have it all together, Call for an Appointment 800-631-4946 For all your Hearing Care Services

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but together we have it all,” the ladies responded, in unison. “We take care of each other,” Paulson adds, noting that they try to get together for a pontooning session on the lake at least once every summer, and to have a holiday gathering every winter. Currently, their members range in age from 70 to 87, though they have occasionally garnered younger dancers, too. “Trina Bjorgan, DeAnn Gottsman’s granddaughter, started clogging with us when she was just eight years old,” Kiihn says — and just for fun, she joined the group at its performance during the fall 2021 Heritage Fest event at the DL Pavilion. “She did pretty well,” Kiihn says. “It was such a fun thing to have her back performing with us.” They also brought in about a half dozen cloggers from Fargo to help them fill out the Pavilion stage, Kiihn adds. Anyone is welcome to join their group; no prior dance experience is necessary, and age is not a deterrent.

The DL Cloggers performed on stage at the Detroit Lakes Pavilion on Sept. 25, 2021. Detroit Lakes Tribune File Photo

“It’s great exercise,” says Gottsman. The group has about 14 different outfits that they dance in, and the music genres they choose for their performances range from country and polka to pop and rock. “We take requests,” Paulson adds. Group rehearsals start at 1 p.m.

every Tuesday in the basement of Detroit Lakes VFW Post 1676, which allows them to use the space for free, because the husbands of a couple of the group’s members are veterans. “We love our veterans,” Kiihn says, adding that the cloggers perform regularly for area veterans’ groups.

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Create structure to help the transition to retirement go more smoothly


eople who’ve been working all their lives usually look forward to retirement and the freedom that comes with it. But when the day to leave the daily grind behind actually arrives, many retirees admit to feeling some anxiety about adjusting to a new norm and maintaining a daily routine. Retirement is a big transition, and Robert Delamontagne, PhD, author of the 2011 book “The Retiring Mind: How to Make the Psychological Transition to Retirement,” notes that some retirees experience anxiety, depression and even a sense of loss upon calling it a career. Some of those feelings can be traced to the perceived lack of purpose some feel after retiring. Without a job to do each day, people can begin to feel useless. Overcoming such feelings can be difficult, but finding ways to build daily structure can help. • Find something to truly engage in. Volunteering can help fill the void created by retirement, but researchers with the Sloan Center on Aging and Work at Boston College have found that only those who are truly engaged in their post-retirement volunteering enjoy the psychological benefits of such pursuits. So before retirees dive right in to volunteering as a means of creating structure, they should first exercise due diligence and find an opportunity they’ll find genuinely engaging.


Embrace the idea of “bridge employment,” or part-time or temporary employment for those who have retired from full-time work. COVID-19 has no doubt skewed post-retirement working statistics since the World Health Organization first declared a pandemic in March 2020, but a 2019 survey from the LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute found that 27 percent of pre-retirees with at least $100,000 in assets planned to work part-time in retirement. Parttime work can provide enough daily structure to help retirees feel as though each day is not just a free-for-all. • Make a concerted effort to be more social. Fill your days with interactions with like-minded individuals who may be experiencing the same feelings about retirement. Join a book club, a local nature group that goes on daily or semi-daily morning hikes or another local community organization. Create social media accounts to find local community groups that cater to your interests. These are great ways to build structure and meet new people. Structure and retirement may seem like strange bedfellows, but many retirees seek structure after calling it a career, and there are many fun ways for seniors to create more organization in their lives.

Inside ‘active adult living’ H

ousing needs may change as adults grow older and their children move out, and those nearing retirement may want to downsize and reduce their cost of living. According to the financial management resource The Motley Fool, in 2019, 48% of seniors planned to downsize, while 52 percent wanted to remain in their existing homes. A lower cost of living could be the primary motivator to sell, but less house to maintain and the extra free time that comes with fewer chores can be powerful motivators, as well. Many people 50 and older consider adult communities when seeking to downsize. Senior home options are categorized based on the level of care they provide. “Active adult living” is a relatively new option that reflects a growing desire for places

that afford aging adults a chance to downsize their homes and engage in their favorite activities. Active adult living, leisure living or active adult communities include single-family homes, townhouses, condominiums, and other housing options within a community that offers an array of amenities and services.

According to Retirement Living, residents in active adult communities enjoy country club settings with amenities like swimming pools, clubhouses, golf courses, exercise centers, walking trails, computer labs, hobby centers, and even on-site restaurants. Active adult living communities may provide transportation options and have their own travel clubs. Though active adult residences do not typically provide medical services, many communities are conveniently located close to local shopping centers and complexes, ensuring that the doctor’s office is not that far away. Other features of active living that may be covered by homeowner’s association fees include outdoor maintenance like landscaping, snow


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CONTINUED FROM PAGE 13 removal and sanitation services. Security, internet service and cable also may be included in the monthly fees. Active communities emulate the benefits afforded by all-inclusive vacations, where day-to-day details are handled by management so residents can focus on fun and leisure. Unlike general neighborhoods, seniors may appreciate active living communities because they have access to an array of services within the community. Some promote a resort vacation feeling, while others focus on sports or cultural life. What’s more, since age is restricted, residents know that many people in these communities have shared experiences. Active adult communities also are amenable to adults who like to travel. Residents get the peace of mind to lock up their homes and leave knowing lawns will still be mowed and shrubs trimmed, removing signs that the residence is unoccupied. This is an ideal situation for a snowbird who spends time in a different location for part of the year. Active adult living is the relatively new kid on the block for senior communities, filling an important niche for independent retirees and near-retirees.

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Meet your (mentorship) match Looking for a fun and impactful volunteer gig? Local Kinship program coordinator says people over 50 make great mentors By Nathan Bowe | For Generations


ant to volunteer your time with a young person, but worried about your age? Don’t be – people 50 and over make great mentors, says Lakes Crisis & Resource Center’s Kinship Coordinator, Stephanie Baker. “A majority of my male mentors are that age,” she says, adding that some men over 50 who are considering becoming a mentor may think, “maybe a kid doesn’t want to hang out with me because I’m too old,” but

that’s not the case. “Anybody who wants to hang out with a kid a couple times a month – that’s all it takes,” Baker says. “You don’t have to have big plans or activities, it can be something you’d be doing anyway – ice fishing, car repairs, gardening. They can come over and help. Once the newness and awkwardness wears off, it’s a lot of fun.” Right now, men are in demand because there are 10 boys waiting for a mentor, and, “A lot of boys on our list

don’t have those male connections, they have single moms,” Baker says. The Kinship mentor program gives kids ages 5-17 the opportunity to be mentored, and gives adults 18 and up the chance to encourage kids and bring another positive influence into their lives. “Every kid needs at least five supportive adults in their life,” Baker says. “The more they have in their life, the better they are set up for success.”

Mentor Dave Spanjers and his mentee, Dominic, at a Kinship “Thank Your Mentor” bowling party. Contributed / Kinship


Success story: Frazee’s Dave Jopp says his childhood mentor changed his life By Nathan Bowe | For Generations


David Vogt and his mentee, Brenden, with Dale Twedt and his mentee, Sebastian, at a Kinship bowling party at The Cactus in Perham. Contributed / Kinship

Now 51, Ray Miller of Crookston was about 8 years old when he got involved in the Big Brother and Big Sister Program in Fargo. His dad was not a big part of his life, and being mentored by a couple in their mid-twenties made an impact on his development. “I know I did learn about marriage – he and his wife were happily married,” Miller says. “So I got to see that, because of course my mom was raising me at the time, so my dad wasn’t as active in my life. It was a marriage that was actually working, so that was awesome.” The more supportive adults in a young person’s life, the less likely they are to “slip through the cracks,” Baker says. “It’s very important – even for kids with very supportive families at home – to have supportive adults outside their home, also.” Becoming a mentor is a matter of some background checks and an in-home interview, and then matches are determined based on gender and interests, according to Baker. “I try to match mentors up with a kid with similar interests, so they will actually have fun together,” she says. “I want the mentor to have just as much fun as the mentee.”

ave Jopp knows first-hand how nice it can be to have an adult mentor when you’re a kid growing up in a tough situation. Jopp is the weekday morning talent on KRCQ Radio (where he goes by Dave Lee) and is a longtime rhythm guitarist and singer with the popular Fat Cats band. He and his wife, Aleisa, have raised four children together and lived in Frazee for the past 22 years, where he has served on the city council and as vice mayor. Jopp, 57, leads a busy, involved life, but he went through a rough spell after his parents divorced when he was young and growing up in Hutchinson, Minn. That was in 1968, and divorce was pretty much unheard of at that time in small town Minnesota, he says. Both his parents worked at 3M, and after the divorce his dad left the family and his mom got very sick. He lived with his grandparents while she spent a month recovering at the Mayo Clinic. She never went back to 3M, and Jopp went from middle class to poor overnight. “I was 8 or 9 years old, living with my mom, when I met my Big Brother,” he recalls. The Big Brother youth mentorship program in Hutchinson was sponsored by the Optimist Club, and Jopp’s Big Brother was John Miller, the local State Farm Insurance agent. “He was a very prominent insurance man in town,” Jopp says. Jopp and his mom lived in an apartment building dubbed “Divorce Court” because a number of divorced families lived there. “He would pick me up from Divorce Court and take me to the most prominent housing development in Hutchinson – Shady Ridge,” Jopp says.“He had a sauna and a gym with a basketball court and racquetball court in the basement.” Miller and his wife were raising two sons and a daughter at the time, and they all welcomed Jopp into their home. “They were very, very good,” Jopp says. “When I was with his family, I was treated like one of the kids. It’s amazing, the generosity.” He spent two or three weekends a month with the family, depending on the time of year, helping with yard work, learning to fish at their lake cabin, and learning to golf, since the home was on a golf course. Miller had his pilot’s license, and Jopp remembers flying with the family to Grand Rapids, and being allowed to sit up front in the cockpit to help “fly” the plane. Jopp was learning Judo at the time, and there was a martial arts mat in the basement, too. CONTINUED ON PAGE 19 GENERATIONS SPRING 2022 | 17

I try to match mentors up with a kid with similar interests, so they will actually have fun together. I want the mentor to have just as much fun as the mentee. – STEPHANIE BAKER, Kinship coordinator

Mentor Cindy Hendrickson and her mentee, Kadie, at a Kinship Farm Tour. Contributed / Kinship

Baker says the program is very flexible: “Whatever works for the mentors, and the family of the mentee’s, schedule.” And in a worse-case scenario, adjustments can be made if things aren’t working out. “I completely understand that sometimes it doesn’t work out,” she says. “People don’t click, or there’s not the same interests. I try to work with the mentors. If it’s not working and they’re just not into it, I’d much rather do something about it then. If they’re not completely committed and excited about it, we definitely can backtrack and rematch. We work with everyone.” There are now 38 kids enrolled in the local Kinship program, about half boys and half girls. The girls all have mentors, but 10 boys are on the waiting list. “Sometimes men are hesitant to work with kids, or may not feel they have the skills they need to hang out with these kids, but it’s really not that hard to be a mentor,” Baker says. “If you know how to be a friend and to do fun stuff, you can be a mentor. We don’t expect them to be teachers or social workers – it’s actually one of the easiest ways to volunteer. You’re just going about your life, doing the things you like to do, but you have a kid with you.” People interested in mentoring in the Detroit Lakes area can contact Baker at 218-847-8572, or fill out an application on the website at 18 | GENERATIONS SPRING 2022


Kinship program participants stop for a photo during a group photo during the Sucker Creek Preserve Fall Hike. Contributed / Kinship

Mentor Wonell Miller and her mentee, Ebony, at a Kinship event. Contributed / Kinship

“I ‘taught’ him Judo – a kid flipping a grown man, and he taught me how to play racquetball,” he says. Later in life, Jopp realized that having a mentor “might have taught me a few core values – don’t judge people, a good work and play ethic, and if you start something, finish it before moving on.” Jopp spent a lot of time with his Big Brother over the span of five or six years; less as he got into high school and got involved in activities there. He met his wife, Aleisa, in high school. “We were both involved in concert choir, sixth hour,” he says with a smile. They graduated in 1982. Jopp went to college for a year and then joined the Army: “All my buddies from high school were in the Army, the Guard or the Marines,” he says. A hitch at that time was three years active duty and three years in the reserves, he says. He specialized in combat mobile communications. “I regret not doing 20 years (in the Army),” he says, adding that the pension would have been nice. But he took his honorable discharge after one hitch, grew his hair out, joined a rock band and never looked back. He learned his broadcasting skills at the Brown Institute in the Twin Cities. He’s worked at KRCQ Radio in Detroit Lakes for 22 years, and he and Aleisa own the Chic Shed Junque Boutique in Frazee, which she manages. Mentorship, he says, “is a great thing. If it’s a good fit, it’s a great thing.”

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Receding vision is common in older age


roblems seeing clearly at close distances, such as when reading or working at a computer, are common between the ages of 41 and 60, according to the American Optometric Association. Known as presbyopia, this problem will progress over time.

vulnerable if they take medications for health conditions related to high cholesterol, thyroid problems, anxiety or depression, and arthritis. A family history of glaucoma and macular degeneration also increases the risk of eye and vision problems later in life.

How does age-related vision loss affect daily life? The AOA notes that individuals who are developing presbyopia may need to hold reading materials farther away than normal to see them clearly. Still others might feel the need to remove their glasses so they can see better up close. Words may appear blurred, especially in dimly lit environments like restaurants. Another way age-related vision loss affects daily life concerns driving. Many individuals begin to experience increasing difficulty with glare when driving at night after they turn 40.

Do all older adults have the same experience with receding vision? The symptoms of age-related vision changes like presbyopia are not the same for everyone, so the lack of common symptoms does not necessarily mean individuals’ vision isn’t receding. That’s one reason why the AOA urges all individuals between 40 and 60 to schedule eye exams at least every two years. Individuals in this age group who have been deemed “at-risk” should get annual exams. Eyeglasses (or new prescriptions for individuals who already wear them), contact lenses and surgical procedures can help individuals with presbyopia overcome the condition. It’s important to note that the changes sparked by presbyopia typically stop around age 60. At that age, however, a number of other eye diseases and conditions may develop that can change vision dramatically. Everyone over 60 is recommended to get annual eye exams.

Are all older adults equally vulnerable to eye and vision problems? Individuals with preexisting conditions are at a higher risk of developing vision problems as they age. Such conditions include diabetes and high blood pressure. The AOA also notes that individuals over 40 may be more

Qualities to look for in a post-retirement job


he notion of relaxing on a beach all day is a retirement dream for millions of adults across the globe, but many retirees also harbor a desire to continue working. Whether it’s a volunteering gig or a parttime job that retirees are looking for, certain qualities can make an opportunity uniquely suited to a post-retirement job. • Flexibility: Retirees may be looking to contribute to their communities or simply earn a little spending money, but they will likely still want the freedom to travel or spend time with their families whenever they choose. So flexibility is something to look for in a post-retirement job. This is what makes consultant work so attractive to retirees. In-person hours may not be required of consultants, who can then offer their input while visiting their grandchildren or traveling the world. • Socialization: Though the ability to work from home can make it easier for retirees to earn some extra money, some seniors aren’t as concerned about their finances as they are about just wanting to get out of the house. In that case, look for a job that offers the opportunity to socialize and 20 | GENERATIONS SPRING 2022

meet new people. Socializing as an older adult is a great way to fend off loneliness; studies have shown that social support networks have a positive effect on cognition among older adults. So a post-retirement job that enables retirees to socialize could delay or reduce the severity of age-related cognitive decline. Engagement: A job seniors find engaging is more likely to provide the types of benefits seniors are looking for in post-retirement work. If seniors find themselves simply going through the motions with their post-retirement work, they should look for opportunities that they can be more enthusiastic about. Pressure-free: The American Stress Institute reports that 83 percent of workers in the United States suffer from work-related stress. After a lifetime of dealing with this stress, individuals who want to work in retirement should look for pressure-free opportunities. This is an important quality, as the ASI indicates that stress has been linked to increased rates of heart attack, hypertension and other disorders.

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Setting the stage

White Earth Elder Mike Swan is encouraging Native American youth to explore their creativity through theater By Lorie Skarpness | For Generations


ike Swan has been on the Native Advisory Board at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis for about a year. “They wanted to bring someone in from outside the metro area,” he says. “They thought of me because of the work I did with the Northern Lights Opera Kids (NLOK) summer program. “ Swan is an elder and spiritual leader in the village of Pine Point on the White Earth Reservation. He

grew up in the village, attending the old school. He says there weren’t many opportunities for drama at that time. “I remember a couple of school plays for Christmas and that was about it,” he says. “Other than that we didn’t have anything in the theater for students to experience. I wanted to help the kids have something positive to get involved in. Some do the drama camp, NLOK and community theater.”

For the past several years, NLOK has been involving youth from the Park Rapids area and Pine Point in theater production. Swan has previous years of experience working with kids, as a former teacher at White Earth Tribal College and Native American Cultural Liaison for Detroit Lakes Public Schools.

Theater as a positive path

Swan’s first involvement in

Theater gives youth from the Pine Point and Park Rapids area a chance to express their imaginations and creativity. On March 16, a group of youth will be heading to the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis to further expand their horizons. Contributed / Mike Swan


theater came when he was asked to play Sitting Bull in “Annie Get Your Gun” at the community theater in Park Rapids. “That was my first experience with acting,” he says. “When they called me up I thought it was a prank call at first, but they were serious. I went over for auditions, not knowing you need a monologue and singing. When I got on stage I told them my kind of singing is different than what you do here. I sang a powwow song. They said they’d get back to me and I figured that’s the last I’d hear from them. Two weeks later they called me up and said I had the part.” Swan says he had fun being in the play: “I’m comfortable being in front of groups because I’ve been doing that all of my professional career,” he says. “I graduated from the U of M Duluth with a biology degree and have done a lot of presentations and training. I also do a lot of powwow dancing where a lot of people are watching me.” “A lot of kids say they feel shy getting up on stage,” he adds. “I tell them to just think about how they do it at powwows and that in a lot of ways it’s the same thing. You’re sharing something in you.” Swan says being involved in theater productions and camp gives youth something to do in the summer. “It’s something positive to do and they enjoy it,” he says. “It keeps them off the streets.”

Wild imaginations at work

Swan says having drama camp every summer is something the kids look forward to. “We send a bus over to pick up kids in Park Rapids and bring them out to Pine Point,” he says. “They come up with the plot, design the set and costumes, and everything else.” Swan says he has seen positive changes in Pine Point students as a result of their theater experiences. “I’ve seen kids open up more with their personality,” he says. “The kids take the lead in their drama camp production. It might be a fairy tale

wrote a story, ‘Whistle in the Dark,’ taking place in a village like theirs, and made a giant puppet with horns for Wendigo. One of the kids stopped by and said they wanted me to play the old man in their play. So I did and that was fun.” They performed the play at Pine Point School and the Armory in Park Rapids. “There was a pretty good sized crowd,” Swan says. “Quite a few of the families were there. When the Wendigo came out, some of the little ones started crying.” Performing together has also helped youth from both communities make new friends.

Heading to the Guthrie Mike Swan

I thought a trip like that might inspire the kids to look at being more involved with drama and theater. – MIKE SWAN, Native Advisory Board at the Gutherie Theater in Minneapolis

with castles and knights. They are expressing their creativity to let that out in new ways. Some kids never knew they could do something like that.” “They think of what they want to do,” he adds. “A lot of them have a wild imagination. Last summer I went in and one of the guys asked me to do some native storytelling from our oral traditions. Surprisingly, they did a story like that. They did a play about Wenaboozhoo, who is half human and half spirit, the trickster and the Wendigo, a scary person like an ice creature. “One of the things we have in our culture is you don’t whistle in the dark or you’re calling spirits. They

The Native Advisory Board has been meeting on Zoom monthly and includes members with several tribal affiliations. Swan says when he was asked to share what he would like to see, he told them he would like to bring students to the Guthrie to see a production.. “I thought a trip like that might inspire the kids to look at being more involved with drama and theater,” he says. “The kids are very excited about this trip. And I’ve never been to the Guthrie myself even though I’m on their advisory board. On March 16, Swan traveled with a group of students and chaperones on a charter bus paid for by the White Earth Nation to see a matinee production of “The Tempest”. Paul and Pat Dove’s grandson, Hawken Paul, an alumnus of NLOKids, will be acting in the production. The Guthrie provided free tickets for all of the students who attended, and donations from the Park Rapids Rotary and Pine Point Community Council paid for meals and other expenses. “I hope this trip will inspire kids to continue to explore drama and theater,” he says. “There aren’t too many kids’ programs outside of the metro like this.” Swan said other communities on the White Earth Reservation are exploring the possibility of adding theater experiences for youth, as well. GENERATIONS SPRING 2022 | 23

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