RoadTrip 16: Courage

Courage. The word appeared several times during our trek across the United States.

In a framed quote overlooking Inspiration Point at House on the Rock, in Spring Green, Wisconsin that read: “Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.” (Erich Fromm)

Tacked to a wall at a museum in Walnut Grove, Minnesota: “The real things haven’t changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and have courage when things go wrong.” (Laura Ingalls Wilder)

Japanese garden at House on the Rock

We saw it again at an art exhibit in Crazy Horse, South Dakota, where Denise Lajimodiere, a Chippewa Indian, created the artwork you see above. Called Songideewin, or Courage, it’s created through the lost tribal art of mazinibakajige, or birch bark biting.

Minnesota prairie, Pipestone, MN

We witnessed courage all along our journey. The courage of artists like Alex Jordan who built House on the Rock from the depths of his imagination and wonderings. Courage of the early pioneers, like Laura Ingalls Wilder’s family, who left their mark of discovery in a trail from east to west. Courage of the Native American tribes, like the Chippewa, who endured that mark of discovery, and strive to keep their culture alive today.

We saw courage in the lives of the many we met along the way — small business owners, innkeepers, artists, and travelers just like us, each with their own wandering story to tell.

Songideewin (Courage) by Denise Lajimodiere, TurtleMountain Band of the Chippewa Indians, an example of mazinibakajige, the Ojibwe art of birch bark biting. Bark is gathered in the spring and is peeled as thin as an onion skin. Each piece is folded and bitten, using the eye teeth, along the folds. Bitings were originally used as patterns for quillwork and beadwork. RoadTrip16, text and photos ©2016

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