Season 3

🚨New Podcast 🚨

For thousands of years wisdom has been handed down to generation after generation through the art of story telling. The Ojibway are no stranger to stories and legends. Stories carry our beliefs, our history, and warnings of what not to do in this life. My dear friend Gary Johnson always had a story and he based it on the way you plopped down on the chair in front of him. In his stories he passed on lessons, humor, and guidance that still steers me to this day.

Gary was one in a million and how he memorized hundreds of oral stories is a feat only known to him. His life was cut far to short as he was called home in May 2021. Oral traditions are the life blood of our community and that blood will only flow if we speak the words that came before us. Gary impacted the lives of thousands and his well lived life deserves to be honored. His words, should continue to flow, and they will do just that.

Johnson’s Tales is my brand new podcast. Where I will pass on Gary’s stories as they were told to me. Word for word, thankfully Gary wrote some of them down and I cannot wait to share them with all of you. Look for the first tale in October 2021.

It’s the most wonderful time

S2 Episode 14: County fair

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Friends August is knocking on our door and you know what that means…… It’s County Fair time! I can hear the sizzle of the deep fryers, the laughter from the carnival, and the cheers from the grand stand. Are you a tractor pull fan? Maybe the derby is more your speed or do you like to stroll through the home arts building? And for the love of everything holy, hot dish, and target….Don’t for get to take a moment to pet a chicken! Pull up a seat, pour yourself a beverage, and settle in as I share which county fairs are my favorite.

Shit! Summer is almost over

S2 Episode 12: Half Baked Summer

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Hey friends! Can you believe we are already half way through the month of July? Where the heck did the first half of summer 2021 go!? If you blink fall will be knocking on our door before we know it. I finally found the swimsuit that dreams are made of. Got brave and bought a SUP, hit a Boulder with my Prius, harnessed my inner Blanch at cardio bay, and why yes, our cabin project is still going strong! I’ve been having a blast and I am not ready for hot girl summer to be over. So pour yourself a glass, pull up a comfy chair and listen in to my hot girl summer antics.

Wisconsin Dells

S2 Episode 11: Wisconsin Dells

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Hey friends! Hope you all had a good weekend! I spent my weekend in the beautiful Wisconsin Dells and I have some tips for your next vacation. Yes, the Dells is considered the tourist trap of Wisconsin, but if you have a little intel you can avoid the gimmicks and put towards the good stuff. Mount Olympus is evil, mom & pop motels are still my favorite and yes we have to talk about cheese, along with my favorite WI Dell restaurants. So pull up a comfy chair, pour yourself a beverage and listen in.

Hey There!

S2 Episode 7: Meet Your MN BFF

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Hey friend! I realized that I haven’t properly introduced myself yet…. that was so impolite of me! Hi I’m AmandaJean, but you can call me AJ. I hail from the land of 10,000 lakes, have a weird obsession with dinosaurs, sour gummy candy, and PYREX. I’ve been through a lot of shit and sharing my stories the good and the bad ones helps me heal. So get out of the heat, pull up a chair, poor a beverage and listen in to the story of me.

{Charlie}

S2 Episode 5: Fifty

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When someone you love dies, living through their milestones is hard. Today would have been Charlie’s fiftieth birthday. Because of a drunk driver there will be no party and a cake glowing with fifty candles. Instead there will be silence cut with a slice of cake with one candle as I whisper “happy birthday Charlie” into the night.

Charlie will be forever forty. Forty was a hard birthday for him. Not because of the number, but because it was his first birthday without his twin brother Conner. He didn’t want a fuss or a party. He said “it wouldn’t be the same without Connor at my side.” So we planed a sailing trip in the Apostle Islands.

That trip was so simple yet glorious. It was just he and I, plus the seagulls. There are always pesky seagulls. We ate cold sandwiches and pasta salad until our stomachs hurt. Kayaked over to the islands to lay on the beach while we found shapes in the clouds. At night we laid on the fly bridge watching the night sky talking about what if’s and what could be’s. Charlie would point out the constellations to me as he told the Mohican story of how they came to be. We watched the sunrise while we ate cereal and played checkers. Charlie loved the sunrise he’d say to me “it’s Creator telling us that he still has faith in us by giving us a new day.”

His birthday rolled in without much fanfare. We placed a tiny wooden boat with a candle into the mighty lake to honor his brother. A life that was gone to soon. That evening I surprised him with a lemon cupcake that I had tucked away in the fridge. He pretended to blow out his non-existent candle as he made his wish with a smile. Charlie then squeezed my hand as we looked up at the beautifully painted sunset sky, “AJ, look what Creator has done for us tonight.” The sky was this perfect blend of cotton Candy pink, orange, and purple, it was beautiful.

If only I had known that would be the last birthday I’d spend with him. I would have soaked those moments in, cheated at checkers, and memorized our conversations under the stars. That’s the funny thing about fate, she lulls us into a calm to help us forget that this day could be our last. So instead of living in and soaking up the moments we plan for tomorrow, then the next day and the day after that.

That’s the hardest lesson to learn in life, cherish every moment because you never know when it will be the last.

215

S2 Episode 4: 215

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My heart sank when the news broke that a mass grave containing the remains of 215 children had been found in at a former Indian Residential School in Canada. I cried tears for the 215 children whose lives were cut short. Tears for their families and their communities. No on deserves to be thrown into an unmarked grave, especially a child. This isn’t just a Canadian problem, we have blood on our soil too.

The United States didn’t do much better, they believed in the philosophy of “kill the Indian, save the child.” We had more Indian residential schools on US soil than Canada. Hundreds of thousands of children were taken from their parents and sent to residential school. Some of those children went in and never came out. All sites in the US need to be explored for unmarked graves.

The 215 children hits to close to home for me. My Grandfather Clifford could have been one of those children. He was slated for a Indian Residential school. However because of the 1919 flu pandemic he and his siblings were sent south to the Minnesota State Public School for Abandoned and Neglected Children. He was taken from his mother when he was just two years old. His brother Richard was 5 years old and baby “Glenwood” was just 11 months old. Grace had no choice, if she tried to hide her children from the agents they would have beat her and arrested her for hiding them.

11 month old “Glenwood” was adopted out upon arrival. When all three children entered the school they were categorized as “Indian, brown hair, brown skin, brown eyes, good teeth.” Clifford was contracted out as indentured servant at just 4 years old. His exit form listed him as “white, brown hair, brown skin, brown eyes, good teeth.” With a stroke of a pen his race was magically changed and he fell off the tribal rolls. Clifford was a victim of paper Genocide.

Paper Genocide was used as a tool to shrink the tribes and drive them to assimilate into society. It was used to shrink the population on the reservations and fractured family lineage. Today we have full blooded Natives who are not on their tribe’s rolls because somewhere along the line an Agent marked the race box as “white.” With a stroke of a pen family lines were wiped out and forever changed. Paper Genocide did its job.

Yet Paper Genocide cannot kill the need to find your family. It may have made it harder, but with a little determination it can and will be done. When Clifford was in his 60s he found his mom. She was old by then, but she was over joyed because she knew this day would come. That she would be reunited with her son. Richard and baby “Glenwood” are still lost to the sands of time. She died never seeing their faces again. She didn’t even get to meet my father, yet he gave me her original name, Geneva as my middle name to honor her. When she married Cox she changed her name to Genevieve in an attempt to shed her past and to conform to the white ways of life.

My heart needed to find Grace, she was lost. I poured through record after record with no luck. She was lost to the sands of time. That is until I met some at a conference in college. His grandfather was Genevieve’s brother and he had been digging to find out what happened to her first set of children. When I told him “I am Clifford’s granddaughter,” he pulled me into a hug. I was his family and he would become mine. He was looking for her grave too.

Sadly I outlived David, cancer got him. I didn’t give up on finding her. Turns out I had canoed right by her dozens of times. And drove by her more times than I can count on my way to Bayfield/Ashland. I can’t go back in time to give my Dad the chance to meet her. I can however give him the chance to tend to her grave for the rest of his days. She was lost, but now she’s found.

She and her children were victims of Paper Genocide, relocation and assimilation. Richard and “Glenwood” may be gone from this world, but I as their great niece will do everything I can to bring them home and honor their lives for the rest of my days. They deserve that.

These stories need to be told. What’s happening in Canada with the discovery of unmarked graves at residential schools happened in this country too. We need to take a stand, we must never forget about the schools, orphanages, and paper genocide. Generational trauma is alive in Indian Country and in order to heal it we need to bring all of our children home. No one should ever be lost to the sands of time.

{Summer Series}

They say every person we date changes us. For some it’s for the better and for others it can be for worse. If you are in the latter do not beat yourself up over it, sometimes good people fall into bad relationships. What matters is what you do with the lessons that you learned. Did you do a repeat or did you take time to find yourself or did you find someone who healed the heart he didn’t break.

This summer we are going to walk through some of my more memorable relationships that were the stepping stones that led me to Jay. Some were good, some were bad, and some were mundane. I promise there will be laughs, I was a 28 year old dating toddler after all.

Navigating the world of dating after a divorce is hard. You dabble, you muddle, and yes you even flounder. Yet somehow you get back up and try again and again and again.

Navigating the world of dating after the death of a fiancé is hard too. You have to learn that is ok to love the man you lost and make room for what’s next. It’s ok to not just settle, you deserve a man who understands that someone had to die in order for him to have a seat at your table. That death, that feeling of unfinishedness will always be apart of you and there is nothing wrong with that.

So come along with me. Pour yourself a beverage, sit out on the patio, watch the sunset and reminisce with me.

-AJ

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