The Honorary Doctor of Letters was conferred on Jim Northrup at college spring commencement ceremonies held on May 17, 2012. Jim Northrup was born April 28, 1943 at the Fond du Lac Indian Reservation in Minnesota. Jim Northrup's writing has been published in many rural and Native American papers, such as The Circle, The Native American Press and News From Indian Country and has won numerous awards. Mr. Northrup's writings are known for demonstrating a warm humor with a sharply political undertone. Nmihrup often tells stories through the perspective of his immediate family, most of whom, like he, live a traditional Anishinaabe lifestyle, using a folksy style to make points about United States-Native American interactions.
Achievements: 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 has been 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 has given radio commentaries on the Superior Radio Network, National Public Radio, Fresh Air Radio], and the British Broadcasting Company-Scotland. His two books, Walking the Rez Road and Rez Road Follies, are written in the same style, and have been highly praised for their insights into reservation life. He peppers his columns and 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 is a student.
Born in the Government Hospital on the reservation, Jim Northrup was raised at Pipestone Indian School where he was a victim of physical abuse by teachers and fellow students; Northrup grew up a tough street-fighter with a smart mouth. Service in Vietnam and a surfeit of family tragedy have added to a strong, humorous voice that is unafraid to talk about the darker side of life.
Jim and his family live a 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 harvesting wild rice and maple syrup. Nonetheless, his traditional lifestyle does not deter him from participating in events like the Taos Film Festival and the Taos Poetry Circus.
Jim Northrup Quotes:"I used to be known as a bull-shitter but that didn't pay anything. I began calling myself a storyteller - a little better, more prestige - but it still didn't pay anything. I became a freelance writer. At first it was more free than lance, then I started getting money for my words." (Rez Road Follies, p. 2)
Awards and recognitions:
• Jim was named Writer of the Year in syndicated columns for 2001 by the Wordcraft Circle of Native Writer's and Storytellers for his column The Fond du Lac Follies.
• Walking the Rez Road was awarded a Minnesota Book Award and a Northeast Minnesota Book Award. Jim was honored as writer of the Best Feature Story in 1987 by the Native American Press Association for the story "Jeremiah, Jesse and Dan". In 1987 he also was named winner of the Lake Superior Contemporary Writers Series for "Culture Clash".
• The film Jim Northrup: With Reservations received an award at the Dreamspeaker Native Film Festival '97, and was named Best of Show at Red Earth '97. It was named Best Short Film at the Native American Voices Showcase 2002 at the Fargo Film Festival. It was also shown at the 1997 Native American Film & Video Festival, National Museum of the American Indian, New York City.
• The Rez Road Follies has been nominated for a Minnesota Book Award, in the Creative Non-fiction category in 1995.
• Fond du Lac Follies was named Best Column at the 1999 Native American Journalists Association convention.