3. May 2012 11:53
The world has lost a very special person. Michael Chosa, elder of the Lac due Flambeau Ojibwa people, healer, Indian rights activist, passed away on April 18 of this year.
Born on February 23, 1936, Mike came from a large and close family. This diverse and fascinating man early became involved in Indian rights work. In 1973 he and his older sister Betty Jack testified before the US Senate Committee hearings on Indian Child Welfare. Subsequently, he wrote historical overviews on Indian history in support of his testimony. He was a member of AIM. Mike and Betty were featured in a documentary on Native Americans called The Divided Trail. Produced by Jerry Aronson, The Divided Trail was named documentary film of the year for 1978 and was nominated for an Academy Award.
Despite his continued work for Indian rights, Mike, a fluent Ojibwa speaker, found time to pass on his knowledge of the Ojibwa language and culture to others in his tribe, to teach and practice the harvesting and use of traditional foods. Mike loved to weave the red willow dream catchers traditional to the Ojibwa people. Whenever he had spare time, Mike would get out his willow branches and artificial sinew and make dream catchers.
Mike’s deep family ties led him to support his sister Betty when she adopted her three great-grandchildren, one of whom was born with Down’s syndrome.
I never had the honor of meeting Mike Chosa in person. But during phone conversations with Mike in which he talked about gathering wild rice, about healing and Ojibwa culture, the power of his personality came across the hundreds of miles between us.
We’ll miss you, Mike, but you have joined the ranks of those whose dedication to freedom and justice made this world a better place.
Thanks to Mike’s nephew Clifford Siegfried for use of the photo of Mike Chosa.