End of the Beginning: Jim Northrup, 1943–2016, Reads His Poem on the Circle of Life


Jim Northrup, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and award-winning author, poet, linguist and upholder of Ojibwe traditions including sugar bush and wild rice harvesting, was sent into the spirit world on Monday August 1.

RELATED: Breaking: Beloved Ojibwe Author, Poet, Marine Veteran Jim Northrup Walks On

He had publicly revealed his terminal kidney cancer diagnosis in April, facing his own end with characteristic humor and courage. Here, the poet reads his own poem in speaking to those very issues in a scene from the award-winning 1996 documentary made of his life, Jim Northrup: With Reservations.

RELATED: Video: Ojibwe Author Jim Northrup Waxes Poetic—Literally—on Manoomin

End of the Beginning

Someone said we begin to die
the minute we’re born.
Death is a part of life.
Who knows why the Creator
thins the herd.
Another old saying says
we must all be prepared
to give up those we love
or die first.
Take time to mourn.
Take time to remember.
Everything happens in cycles.
The pain you feel was once
balanced by someone’s joy
when that baby was born.
The loss you feel today
will be replaced by good
long-lasting memories.
Is there a message here? Yea,
treat others like this
is your last day above ground.

—James Northrup 1943–2016

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Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa