Jim Northrup (April 28, 1943 – August 1, 2016) was an Anishinaabe (Native American) newspaper columnist, poet, performer, and political commentator from the Fond du Lac Indian Reservation in Minnesota. His Anishinaabe name was “Chibenashi” (from Chi-bineshiinh “Big little-bird”). Jim Northrup’s regular column, the Fond du Lac Follies, was syndicated through several Native American papers, such as The Circle, The Native American Press and News From Indian Country. It won many awards (see below) and was known for a warm humour with a sharply political undertone. Northrup often told stories through the perspective of his immediate family, most of whom, like he did, live a traditional Anishinaabe lifestyle and uses a folksy style to make points about United States-Native American interactions. Fond du Lac Follies was named Best Column at the 1999 Native American Journalists Association convention. In 1990-1992, Jim worked as a roster artist for the COMPAS Writer in the Schools Program. He was a Mentor in the Loft Inroads Program, a Judge for the Lake Superior Contemporary Writers Series and The Jerome Fellowship, and a Member of the Minnesota State Arts Board Prose Panel. Jim also gave radio commentaries on the Superior Radio Network, National Public Radio, Fresh Air Radio, and the BBC-Scotland. His books Walking the Rez Road, Rez Road Follies, and Anishinaabe Syndicated are written in the same style, and have been highly praised for their insights into reservation life. He peppered his column, and the books, with jokes (e.g. Q: Why is the white man in such a hurry to get to Mars? A: He thinks we have land there) and words or phrases from his tribal language, Ojibwemowin, of which he was a student.
Born in the Government Hospital on the reservation, Jim Northrup was brought up at Pipestone Indian School, where he was physically abused by teachers and fellow students, Northrup grew up a tough streetfighter with a smart mouth. Service in Vietnam and a surfeit of family tragedy added to a strong, humorous voice that was unafraid to talk about the darker side of life. Jim, with his family, lived the traditional life of the Anishinaabe in northern Minnesota, on the Fond Du Lac reservation. Year around they practice the construction of making winnowing baskets, and harvest wild rice and maple syrup. Nonetheless, his traditional lifestyle did not deter him from participating in events like the Taos Film Festival and the Taos Poetry Circus. Jim died on August 1, 2016, due to complications from kidney cancer. He was 73.
- April, 28, 1943
- Fond du Lac Indian Reservation, Minnesota,
- August, 01, 2016
- Sawyer, Minnesota
Cause of Death
- kidney cancer