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Ojibwe in Lake Wobegon?

May 13, 2008 | 7 Comments

Why have there been no reference to the Ojibwe people who lived, and always have, in the land where Lake Wobegon is set—mythically as well as geophysically? And why are no native voices captured in the multifarious cast of characters in Lake Wobegon? We have many excellent native musical groups too, some from Minnesota and nearby Wisconsin who have won NAMIES, who would make good listening for the folks across the country who enjoy the show.
Mi-iew Miigwech—many thanks—
Autumn's Mother

Carol Lee S.

The short answer is: the show is entertainment and native music is religious, the show is comedy and white people cannot do comedy about native people. We've had a few native musical groups on and they did not seem comfortable about performing as part of a variety show and the time constraints were rather brutal. The place to hear native music in all its glory is at a powwow which operates on a whole other sense of time. For better or worse, the show reflects the taste of the founder and that is far from all-inclusive.


I am confident in the honesty of Mr. Keillor's statement that native music does not fit into the format of PHC, and his candor regarding personal taste seems fair. One radio show cannot be all things to all people. GK can air whatever content he wants - he seems to be doing quite well in the current format. That said, I did cringe at the explanation "the show is entertainment and native music is religious" - are gospel songs, hymns and even occasional (hauntingly beautiful) Hebrew songs not a primary genre of musical faire at PHC?

As far as suggesting characters for inclusion in Lake Woebegon - well, I'm native to the Bay Area, where diversity is the norm and any place around here with only white people just seems weird. I'd love to see not only (perhaps) native people popping up from time to time, but also gay people(a gay family would be very cool), asians, hispanics, a whole blooming rainbow of diversity! After all, Minnesota is not unlike the rest of the country and immigrants did not quit arriving after the Norweigans got there...

Lake Woebegon, it seems to me, is a finite storytelling palette. The artist knows his colors and format and sticks to his strengths and talents. I (one of millions) admire and appreciate the result.

American Indians have a wonderful sense of humor and a set of jokes not often heard outside the (tribe?). A humorous commentary or interview would fit nicely with PHC humor. As for music, a flute solo, non religious, such as Robert Mirabel does, would fit within the time constraints, and I'll bet your audience would love it.

Good grief, a ficticious place on a comedy/varity show on the radio, and there are actually people out there who actualy wonder "what, no American Indians?" Geez...political correctness sure has turned our society into a bunch of glass half-empty, paranoid whiners. There are no ethnic working class elderly women of gypsy decent appearing in the Lake Wobogon segment either. Guess what, it's still funny and it's still entertaining. Get a grip.

With due respect, you can do comedy about anything. Funny is funny.

I love that someone asked the question about Natives since there are so many amazing talents from that area. Louise Erhdrich (sp?) is one who comes to mind. I know her poems have been highlighted on GK's literary piece. I'd love to hear her on the show... reading a poem or even getting into a skit using one of her poems that speaks to both her German and Indigenous roots... She is serious and introspective, yet humor could be a great way to expose the many "all-white crowd" to the complexity and beauty of the area from another voice and perspective.

It boggles my mind that a vehicle so associated with Minnesota culture, and yes, responsible for the image it produces, has no place for Anishinabe charachters. Get a grip indeed!

I enjoy the PHC show very much, in fact I drove from Colorado to New Mexico to see the show today. I haven't thought about the show being all White. Interesting. Who would have thought that NASCAR would start to integrate before some NPR shows. Go figure. Yes, some Native songs are religious, some Caucasian songs are religious.....The Pow Wow comment is perhaps a little bit of a stereotype.

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