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Giiwewosaadang: Charlie Friday

Charlie Friday, whose Ojibwe name was Giiwewosaadang, taught Ernest Oberholtzer much about Indian people and their way of life. Charlie's mother was from Nett Lake. She was the daughter of Chief Ma-tchiss-Kunk.

Charlie often worked on Mallard Island and did some of the masonry work there; notably the chimney in Cedarbark is his. He also kept in touch with Ober through Ed Bliss at Bliss's store in Mine Centre, Ontario. During the last years of Billy Magee's life, Charlie provided Ed Bliss (and through him, Ober) with reports on Billy's condition and needs.

In 1956/57, when Ober moved the Frigate Friday houseboat up onto land to become a small house on Bancroft Bay, Charlie Friday built the fireplace there. He was proud of his stone work and said that he'd like his spirit to reside in that chimney someday. Decades later, Ted Hall wrote this in a July 1979 issue of the Rainy Lake Chronicle:

The graceful stone chimney he built... was ten years old when by an unexpected mix of fate and gasoline and fire Charlie Friday suddenly was made eligible to fulfill his vow to dwell someday as a spirit in that chimney. No one who knew Charlie Friday... doubted thereafter that Charlie Friday was in residence in that delicately-tapered chimney.

After the houseboat was moved back onto water, the land was sold, and Ted Hall heard that the chimney was to be torn down. Ted asked the Indian friends if spirits could be moved, explaining Charlie's and the Foundation's desire to fulfill his wish by installing his spirit in the fireplace in the Big House on Mallard. At that time, Joe Friday, Charlie's brother, went with Jim Boshkaykin to the place and picked up one of the round stones there. Later he and several others (Billy Blackwell, perhaps Alan Snowball...) with several Foundation Board members present, completed a solemn ceremony and set Charlie's stone in a spot on the lower left hearth of Ober's fireplace in the Big House on Mallard Island. Someone said that it must never be moved again.

Charlie Friday was the father of at least two children: Buddy and Rose. Pictures in Ober's files later identify three daughters of Buddy. In fact, three of Buddy Friday's daughters (Charlie's grand-daughters) visited Mallard Island this July: Dorothy, Patricia, and Bernadette. Another grandson well known to us, Alan Snowball, was the oldest child of Rose Friday and George Snowball. In a 1996 Mallard Newsletter, Jean Replinger said this about Alan: "We were privileged to have Alan spend some time on the island each of the last ten summers. He generously shared his love of the outdoors, his culture, and his family with us and connected the generations who have known and loved the islands." Alan died in April of 1996.

Protecting the Round Stone in 2012

This August, special ceremony was conducted by Dennis and Nancy Jones for the spirit of Charlie Friday, still residing in the round rock on Ober's fireplace. The fireplace was then looking forward to some dramatic restoration work. Our intention for the ceremony was to protect the rock during the noise and disturbance of the project, and further, to protect the relationship that we have with Charlie Friday's spirit among the people and place of Mallard Island. In this August photo (left to right) you see Laura Pawlacyk, Dennis' wife; Dennis Jones; and Nancy Jones. Our thanks to them for this ceremony and for their long and continuing relationship with Ober's legacy.

In September, the fireplace was completed. The chimney is restored. All is well.

Article compiled using the Rainy Lake Chronicle (Ted Hall, Editor) as well as oral history and articles written for early Mallard Island newsletters, one by Mary Rademacher. Billy Blackwell of Grand Portage is Mary's brother. Nancy Jones is Billy Magee's grand-daughter. This summer, Nancy recalled Charlie Friday's Ojibwe name.


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