Simon Otto: About the art of Indian humor

"Many people read magazines and articles in the paper and the comment on them tells of the native American being stoic or not listening to the topic of conversation. They don't know or realize that it is one of the cultural things among Indian people.

Some people say that Indians don't say much, but underneath they are a happy people, and most people think that they are quiet. True, they are quiet, but not when they get together. They can jokingly talk and make fun amongst themselves. No outsider had better do that, because if you do, then you will be left on the outside or not included in their conversations.

Here in Northern Michigan there is a lunch served every Tuesday and Thursday at the Little Traverse Bay Band's complex. Anyone of Indian descent is welcomed there. The lunches are free. And to show that Indians are stoic, that is the last to be expected. There are up to 60 people served at lunch, and before lunch, people begin to gather and the room is abuzz with talk and laughter.

They come from all over, and sometimes people from downstate will come up for news (this is called the Moccasin Telegraph), so those who come from their respective homes are welcomed. Most of them are recognized by old friends. Sometimes there will be buses bringing them to the lunches from the Saginaw Chippewa tribe in Mt. Pleasant and also from Pshawbetown, north of Suttons Bay.

Indian humor among themselves is accepted, so it is best not to say anything to one who is extra-sensitive. This you learn who they are and watch and pick your own words, as not to hurt any feelings. Yes, sometimes the topic of conversation is not appropriate, so the subject is quickly changes."

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There's a certain method to the art of Indian humor (The Cheboygan Tribune 11/27)