As the title indicates, the man I call "cousin" — the man this site knows as Ojibwa — today watched the sun set on a central part of his life.
Today was Ojibwa's last day of formal teaching.
His career as a teacher, as the dominant culture defines it, spans nearly half a century — 48 years, to be exact.
That's a long time — a lifetime. What might begin as a job becomes a career, becomes a vocation, becomes an avocation, becomes an integral part of one's identity. And as anyone who has ever crossed that bridge between one fundamental part of life and another knows, it's simultaneously exciting and depressing, exhilarating and terrifying in perhaps equal measure.
It's a transition, a transformation, a transmogrification.
Here at Daily Kos, we've been lucky: Some years ago, Ojibwa did as he was asked by certain elders, and began posting the histories, the stories of our peoples in a forum that would ensure their wide dissemination. The point was to educate non-Indians about who we are as people — individually, collectively, historically, now and in the generations to come — and in so doing, to reorient the dominant culture's perception of us in a more accurate, more fully three-dimensional way.
And thus was Indians 101 born.
Since that time, Indians 101 has become an essential part of Native American Netroots, and beyond that, of Daily Kos. We've all benefited from his teaching, despite not being "students" in the more typical sense.
Tomorrow, Ojibwa begins his first day without having to prepare for a class, knowing that he will likely never again teach an organized course to students in the formal sense.
It will be a bit jarring, I have no doubt.
But with the rising of the sun tomorrow and the reorientation of the earth on its daily journey will come a reorientation of his vocation/avocation. My cousin will teach as long as he walks the earth; it's who he is and what he does. "Teaching" will simply take a different form.
But as someone who has learned, and continues to learn, so much from this man, and who sees the value he brings to this site daily, I thought perhaps other Kossacks might like to join me in recognizing Ojibwa's contributions: to traditional students spanning a half-century, and to all of us here.
If so, please add your thanks and well wishes in the comments.
And in my language and his: Ojibwa, chi miigwech.
* A note to my cousin: You can thank your beautiful wife for bringing the importance of this date to my attention. You can blame me for bringing it to everyone else.