One person can influence a child’s entire life. My daughter was in sixth grade planning for History Day through school. She discussed her idea to research Native American women in Minnesota with the librarian at the History Museum. The librarian explained that, though much of the history was oral and did not focus on women, she knew of a person named Marge Anderson who might be of interest. My daughter contacted Marge, and we drove to the Mille Lacs Band Reservation, where we visited the health center and school. They shared lunch together at the casino. Marge (who died Saturday at age 81) was so gentle, and my daughter listened attentively.
They corresponded by phone as my daughter pieced together Marge’s life story for her History Day project. She wrote and portrayed Marge in a play she called “Bittersweet Berries: The Mille Lac Band of Ojibwa and their casinos,” in which she highlighted the obstacles Marge overcame to distribute funding from the casinos to benefit her community.
I fondly remember my daughter calling Marge in the rain on the steps of the McNamara Center immediately after she placed first in the Minnesota History Day for individual performances. She said, “Marge, we did it! We’re going to Washington, D.C.!” In Washington, she portrayed Marge at the Smithsonian Museum of American History. Later she became active in Native Americans at Dartmouth, though not herself native, and I think the journey was due to this magical relationship.
Jocelyn Bessette Gorlin, Hopkins
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