See our right-hand column for announcements and news briefs. Scroll down the right-hand column to access the Archives -- links to articles posted in the main column since 2007.

Friday, January 23, 2009

MTU to honor Martin Luther King, Jr., at banquet Jan. 24

HOUGHTON--Michigan Technological University will hold its annual MLK Banquet at 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 24, in the Memorial Union Ballroom, capping off a week of events in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday.

The keynote speaker will be Patricia Coleman-Burns, assistant professor and director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs in the University of Michigan School of Nursing.

On the menu are roast beef au jus, cheese tortellini in marinara sauce, roast turkey, garden salad, red skin potatoes, green beans almondine, corn, lemonade and cheesecake.

Banquet tickets, $12 for students and $15 for everyone else, are still being sold in the Memorial Union Commons until 4 p.m. today, Friday, Jan. 23, and will be sold at the door before the banquet.

MLK Week 2009 events are sponsored by the Black Student Association and Educational Opportunity, and this year's theme is "Past hope, toward change."

Please note: The MLK Week event for today, Friday, Jan. 23, "The Lyric Poetry of Tupac Shakur," has been canceled.

PasiCats to play for Jan. 23 Heikinpäivä dance at South Range VFW Lounge

HOUGHTON -- The PasiCats will kick off the Heikinpäivä Festivities on Friday, Jan. 23, with music for dancing from 9 p.m. to midnight at the South Range VFW Lounge, preceded by tango lessons from Ralph Tuttila from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Tickets are $10 for tango lessons and dance and $5 just for the dance. As always, youth under 12 are admitted free. The dance is sponsored by the MTU Social Dance Club.

On Saturday, following the Seisovapöytä (Finnish buffet), which begins at 6 p.m. in Finlandia Hall, the Finnish American All Stars will play for the Dance beginning at 8 p.m. If you do not purchase the $16 buffet ticket, the dance alone is $5. Finlandia Hall is on the Finlandia University Campus.

For the Heikinpäivä Schedule of Events, visit their Web site.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

"Indigenous Night" to feature Sámi reindeer exhibit, Native American art Jan. 22

HANCOCK – Finlandia University's Finnish American Heritage Center will feature two exhibits during "Indigenous Night" from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 22. Both exhibits are free and open to the public.

The exhibit, "The Sámi: Reindeer People of Alaska" is on display at the Finlandia University Finnish American Heritage Center Archive, Hancock, through Feb. 15, 2009. It honors the Sámi herders who traveled to Alaska from Norway in the late 1800s to teach reindeer herding subsistence skills to the Yup’ik and Inupiaq Peoples of Alaska. Sámi scholars Nathan Muus and Faith Fjeld will give a presentation about the exhibit, and Muus will perform joik (Sámi throat singing). Muus and Fjeld will also visit several area schools.

Also part of the Jan. 22 "Indigenous Night" is an opening reception for Native American artist Carl Gawboy from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., with an artist talk beginning at 7:15 p.m. The reception is free and open to the public. This exhibit of Gawboy’s work is featured through Feb. 13 at the Finlandia University Gallery, which is in the Finnish American Heritage Center.

Sámi reindeer exhibit

In 1894 and 1898, 137 indigenous Sámi reindeer herders and their families from Norway were hired by the United States to teach reindeer herding subsistence skills to the Yup'ik and Inupiaq. After their three-year tours of duty in Alaska, many of these Sámi Reindeer Project herders remained in Alaska, married into Alaskan Native families, and helped build the large reindeer herds that provided food, clothing and transportation for Alaskans during the Gold Rush and into the 1920s and 30s.

"Until this exhibit, the public has largely been uninformed about the contribution of the Sámi herders and reindeer husbandry to the history of Alaska," said Gary Kaunonen, archivist and curator of the Finnish American Heritage Center and Archive. "There is growing public interest in this chapter of Alaska history."

The exhibit focuses on the first two generations of the Sámi reindeer families who settled in Alaska . It includes photographs of these early settlers; a map of the Alaska reindeer stations, including the locations of the Sámi herding families; route maps of the two expeditions; and a Source Book containing a Reindeer Project chronology and abbreviated genealogies of the Sámi Reindeer Project families’ first two generations in Alaska.

Also part of the exhibit is a collection of authentic examples of decorated tools, household items and clothing used in nomadic reindeer herding. These items include scrimshawed knives, a carved reindeer bone spoon, a hand loom for band weaving, a pair of winter reindeer fur boots, a wooden pack saddle for reindeer and reindeer skin purses and coffee bags.

From 2004 through 2007, "The Sámi: Reindeer People of Alaska" exhibit traveled to seven Alaska village and native community museums, the Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage and the Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle. For more information about the Sámi exhibit, visit

The exhibit’s appearance in Hancock is sponsored by Finlandia University , Finlandia Foundation National, Suomi Seura, and the Center for Environmental Economic Development, which administers the exhibit.

For additional information about the exhibit’s appearance at Finlandia University, please contact Gary Kaunonen at 906-487-7347 or

"Transforming the Cutover" by artist Carl Gawboy

Son of a Finnish mother and an Ojibwe father, Carl Gawboy, the youngest of eight children, was raised on his mother’s family farm in northern Minnesota. Gawboy decided early to become an artist. He was determined that his art would not be falsely romantic, but would draw on his unique childhood experiences to tell the story of his dual heritage. Whether harvesting rice, duck hunting, or making hay, the subjects of Gawboy’s work carry the authenticity of an experience lived.

For this exhibit, "Transforming the Cutover," Gawboy borrowed a phrase he first heard at a workshop.

"I first heard the term 'Cutover Lands' at a workshop conducted by Arne Alanen," Gawboy explains. "He was referring to a geo-cultural region encompassing Upper Michigan, Northern Wisconsin and Northern Minnesota. This region was occupied by the Ojibwe peoples, and their land-use patterns included a maple sugar industry and participation in the fur trade."

With the introduction of mining and logging to the region, life changed for the people living on the land. Mining brought large numbers of European immigrants, while logging corporations clear-cut vast tracts of land and left behind acres of stumps, branches and broken tree tops. It was on this deforested land that a farming culture arose.

"There was hardly a tree left to build their cabin and barns," notes Gawboy. "Piles of dead branches and tops made the land susceptible to fire. Building agriculture communities was hampered by the short growing season and poor soils. Yet, the characteristics of a community took root: cooperatives, one-room schoolhouses, 4-H clubs and dance halls."

By the 1950s most of these farms disappeared with trees and alders overwhelming the fields and rock piles.

"People who lived on the land were held in utter contempt by the miners in town," says Gawboy. "Suddenly in the 1950s rural real estate was the next industry to sweep through the north. 'Country' went from a symbol of rural poverty to a status symbol. As a witness to these changes, I saw my artistic mission to record the life of the people of the cutover to the best of my memory and ability."

In his art Gawboy focuses on bringing to life scenes of Ojibwe culture that, until now, have not been documented by painters or photographers. He paints with historical accuracy and often challenges popular and academic paradigms about American Indian cultures.

Gawboy has exhibited his work nationwide, including at the Eitlejorg Museum, Indianapolis, and the Great Turtle Museum, Niagara Falls, New York. He was also a cartoonist for the New World Finn newspaper, and these cartoons are collected in the book, In With the Finn Crowd.

The Finlandia University Gallery is in the Finnish American Heritage Center, 435 Quincy Street, Hancock. Gallery hours are Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Wednesday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; or by appointment. Please call 906-487-7500 for more information.

Call for Keweenaw poetry ...

HOUGHTON -- The Community Poetry Series, in collaboration with PANK Magazine and the Community Literacy Journal, invites submissions for an anthology of poetry written by Upper Peninsula and Keweenaw poets on themes and images related to living in the UP and in the Keweenaw -- nature, art, the lake, love, stuff you find in the woods, etc.

Details: you may submit up to five poems; a community editorial committee will decide which ones to include. Work that you submit must be original, written by you.

Deadline: Friday, Feb. 6, 2009.
Format: Email your poems in the body of an email or as an attachment to Be sure to include any special formatting requirements. Include in the subject line: [Your Last Name] Keweenaw Poetry Anthology.
For example: Pitt Keweenaw Poetry Anthology

For more information please contact Matt Seigel, PANK: or Michael Moore, Community Literacy Journal: Visit the Community Poetry Web page.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Dems celebrate at local Presidential Inaugural Ball

By Michele Bourdieu

HOUGHTON -- Kate Griffith, 18, of Calumet and Allouez Township, voted for the first time this past November. Now a student at Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island, she just happened to be home from college and able to attend the local Presidential Inaugural Ball and Dinner sponsored by the MTU Dems / Houghton County Democrats on Jan. 17 at Michigan Tech.

Kate Griffith, daughter of John and Jane Griffith of Calumet and Allouez Township, celebrates her first voting experience and Obama's victory during the Presidential Inaugural Ball, sponsored by the Michigan Tech Dems and the Houghton County Democrats on Jan. 17 at MTU. (Photo © 2009 Gustavo Bourdieu)

"I'm excited and ecstatic and relieved and ... just so happy," Kate said. "On election night we were all in the dorms at Roger Williams and we were like, 'O.K., eleven o'clock, California's coming in, Hawaii's coming in -- he (Obama) could be announced as the official winner.'"

When the announcement came -- at 11 p.m. -- that Barack Obama would be the 44th President of the United States, Kate added, students all over campus were screaming, cheering and laughing with excitement.

"We all just ran outside and screamed at the top of our lungs, like ... all over the campus everyone was doing the same thing," she added. "I just started crying I was so happy."

Kate said it was "incredible" that her first year of college, first year voting (she voted for Obama) coincided with this event.

"It was such a big election, and I got to vote," she said.

She volunteered for the Roger Williams Democrats and the Rhode Island Democrats during the campaign and canvassed for Obama and local Democratic candidates in New Hampshire.

"Afterwards there was a rally with John Kerry, so I got to shake John Kerry's hand. It was cool," Kate added. "It was awesome!"

Kate's parents, John and Jane Griffith, both active Democrats, are in Washington, D. C., now enjoying the Inauguration festivities.

Rep. Mike Lahti, re-elected last November to a second term representing the 110th District in the Michigan legislature, spoke to the group and thanked the MTU Dems and Houghton County Dems for their work.

State Rep. Mike Lahti addresses Democrats -- young and old -- during the Presidential Inaugural Ball and Dinner sponsored by the MTU Dems / Houghton County Democrats on Jan. 17 in the Memorial Union Ballroom at Michigan Tech. (Photo © 2009 Gustavo Bourdieu)

"We're here tonight to celebrate a historic event," Lahti said.

He said Barack Obama succeeded in becoming the first African-American President by uniting and inspiring people of all races.

"And he did it by really hard work and inspiring people to give him some money, to give him volunteers; and it was fantastic," Lahti said. "My wife Sharon knocked on a few doors, and occasionally she mentioned that her husband Mike was also running."

State Rep. Mike Lahti visits with fellow Democrats and supporters during the Inaugural Ball and Dinner Jan. 17 at MTU. (Photo © 2009 Michele Bourdieu)

Lahti said in these tough times the job (of President) seems insurmountable.

"But I think Barack Obama with his intelligence, insight and willingness to listen to varying opinions makes him the right man for the job," Lahti noted. "It's time for the country to unite behind Obama and get the country moving again."

Uncle Pete's Allstar BBQ Blues Band provides music for dancing at the Presidential Inaugural Ball held Jan. 17 in MTU's Memorial Union Ballroom. (Photo © 2009 Gustavo Bourdieu)

Phil Musser, chairman of the Michigan Tech Enterprise Corporation (MTEC) Smart Zone and executive director of the Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance (KEDA), said, despite negative economic news, he was optimistic about the local economic situation because of local companies that are currently expanding and hiring.

"There are a lot of good things going on in this economy," Musser said, "and it just shows the value of, over the years, having been really concentrated on growing our own companies here, helping our entrepreneurs who are committed to staying here."

Ann Pace of Hancock said she felt "Euphoric" about Obama's victory. She and her husband, Hancock City Councilman John Slivon, attended the Presidential Inauguration Ball Jan. 17 at MTU. (Photo © 2009 Gustavo Bourdieu)

"Euphoric" was the reaction to Obama's victory expressed by Hancock resident Ann Pace, who attended the Houghton Dems Inaugural event with her husband John Slivon. She said she felt euphoria at the possibilities that Obama's victory presents. Besides campaigning for her husband's non-partisan position on the Hancock City Council last fall, Pace campaigned in Hancock neighborhoods for Democratic candidates and hosted a neighborhood meeting with Mike Levin, Copper Country field organizer for Obama's Campaign for Change.

A recorded message from Mike Levin was included in the multi-media presentation following the Democrats' dinner. He thanked local campaigners for their hospitality and hard work. The video presentation also included messages from other campaign organizers unable to attend the event.

U.S. Congressman Bart Stupak (D-Menomenee) spoke to the group from Washington, D.C., where he was preparing to attend the Inauguration ceremony.*

One of the youngest Democrats at the event was Cassandra Sterns, a high school student from Hurley, Wisconsin.

Cassandra Sterns of Hurley, Wis., too young to vote, campaigned for Obama. (Photo © 2009 Gustavo Bourdieu)

"My uncle was over in Iraq," she said, "and he voted for Obama."

Sterns said her father, who lives in Illinois, was able to attend Obama's acceptance speech on Election Night in Chicago. Since she had school the next day, she couldn't go to Chicago and felt sad that she missed it.

"Anybody can be anything now," Sterns noted. "It's not limited to your race or your gender, because Hillary ran (she admitted being a Hillary supporter at first)."

Despite being too young to vote and having to deal with cold Wisconsin weather, Sterns put Obama campaign materials on doors in Hurley and a nearby town just before the November election.

Mary Hoffman Hunt said she rented and ran the Houghton County Democrats' Calumet office because a knee injury kept her from campaigning door-to-door last fall. Instead, she sat and chatted with people who walked in the door.

"It was an experimental outpost," Hunt said of the Calumet office. "The only reason (people) walked in the door was that they wanted an Obama yard sign."

People from Copper Harbor and Eagle Harbor (Keweenaw County) who came to shop in Calumet also stopped in the Democrats' office, Hunt added.

"I met the neatest group of people," she said.

At the Inaugural Ball held Jan. 17 at MTU, Mary Hoffman Hunt, who ran the Houghton County Democrats' Calumet office during the campaign last fall, is pictured here with "the three Brians" -- Brian Rendel, left and Brian Hoduski, right, Houghton County Democrats' co-chairs, and Brian Isaksson, second from left, HCD head canvasser. The sign has signatures of local Democratic campaigners. (Photo © 2009 Michele Bourdieu)

Brian Hoduski, Houghton County Democrats co-chair, said the group operated on a minimal budget at the beginning of the campaign, so, unfortunately, the Calumet office didn't have a phone, which would have allowed volunteers to make phone calls.

"Money started rolling in later after people started getting excited," he said.

In his address to the group, thanking the people who worked on the campaign and who helped with the MTU Inaugural Ball, Hoduski said, "Can you imagine what we've been through the last eight years -- it's all going to change."

He said Barack Obama ran on the things that matter to Democrats -- a moral struggle, doing the right thing.

"The thing about Obama that I think is amazing is how he transformed people," Hoduski said. "The intensity of that campaign, people working together....We really did build community, and I see that really manifested in this turnout tonight."

Hoduski added he hoped the Democrats will be able to maintain that community and continue to elect progressive candidates.

Russ Stacy, MTU graduate student in mechanical engineering and acting vice-president of the MTU Dems, was also happy with the turnout -- more than 100 people -- at the local Inaugural Ball.

Seated at the door of MTU's Memorial Union Ballroom are MTU Dems, from right, Russ Stacy, acting vice-president; Kati Stacy; Adrienne Hernandez and Joe Hernandez, MTU Dems secretary and Ph.D. candidate in mechanical engineering. (Photo © 2009 Michele Bourdieu)

"We had a lot of anticipation going in," Russ said. "We were worried about how many people were going to show up, and it came out with a bang -- a lot of people showed up, great time and no glitches -- so I'm really happy."

Russ said he had to balance school with campaigning last fall, but did a lot of door-to-door campaigning in Lake Linden, where he lives. His wife, Kati Stacy, an MTU graduate in English education, said she also helped with the campaigning and was "thrilled" with the results.

"I'm finally getting old enough to know what's going on with politics and be interested," Kati explained. "It's great to be involved."

* Editor's Note: See U.S. Congressman Bart Stupak's photo of President Barack Obama being sworn in on Jan. 20, 2009, and Stupak's message to his constituents.

Stupak from D. C.: "Today we turned a page in our history ..."

Barack Obama is sworn in as 44th President of United States on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2009, at the U.S. Capitol Building. Obama took the oath of office with his hand on the Lincoln Bible and later addressed an estimated crowd of 2 million. U.S. Congressman Bart Stupak (D-Menominee) took this photo while attending the Inauguration. (Photo courtesy U.S. Congressman Bart Stupak)

WASHINGTON, D. C. -- U.S. Congressman Bart Stupak (D-Menominee) today attended the Inauguration of Barack Obama as 44th President of the United States. Stupak released the following statement:

"President Obama minced no words in acknowledging the challenges facing our country, but appealed to the best in all of us to move forward to confront these challenges together. Anyone watching today could not help but to be moved by the history being written before them. Today we turned a page in our history; and, like the chapters before it, this one will be written by the resilience of the American spirit. Under President Obama’s leadership I believe we will overcome the problems we face and emerge even stronger and more prosperous than ever before."

Editor's Note: Click here for The New York Times' "Analyzing Obama’s Inaugural Speech," an interactive video and transcript of President Barack Obama's inaugural remarks on Jan. 20, 2009.

Jan. 20, 2009: Celebrate CHANGE!!

Collection of campaign buttons for Barack Obama on display at MTU / Houghton County Democrats' Inaugural Ball Jan. 17. Watch for a story, coming soon. (Photo © 2009 Gustavo Bourdieu)