Menominee Portrait Dedication & Frechette Memorial

Old Uncle

By Bruce A. Wilber Jr.
Waabshco Wajiw
Nephew of Jim Frechette
April 21, 2007

When I made this speech I had done nothing to prepare for it.  I thought it best to talk about Old Uncle (Jim Frechette to whom I will refer to as Old Uncle) from the heart.

As I spent time getting older I always knew that Old Uncle was endowed with much knowledge that I wanted to learn.  He was taught the ways he knew from his Father and my Grandfather James Frechette Sr. and his Maternal Grandfather and my Great-Grandfather Frank Waukechon.  I always thought there was plenty of time to learn these things from Old Uncle, but as things go, all must one day leave this existence and move on to the Spirit World.

It was then in a great rush that I went to Old Uncle to learn what I could before he went to be with our ancestors.  We spent time talking about what he learned and discussing the ways of others.  He told me of the differences between tribes and between the people in our own Menominee tribe, but never did he speak ill of other people’s ways.  He accepted the differences and taught me not to try to force our way of doing things onto other people.  People go the way they choose and we have our ways and they have theirs.  Old Uncle said, “I learned these things from my Grandfather, so that is what is right for me.”

During a conversation about his Mother and my Grandmother, Marie Waukechon Frechette, we shared our feelings of love for her.  Out of that conversation I thought about forming a new Singing Group and it would be called Crooked Beak Singers in honor of our ancestor Chief Waukechon.  It is that drum that is here singing those honor songs for this presentation.

The Frechette family is deeply proud of the work that Old Uncle has done on these projects presented here at UWSP.  He was a man of great talent that I have yet to see matched by anybody.  When I was asked by a reporter what I thought about the entities involved I responded that at this time I have little thought about what the entities are feeling.  I just know our family is proud of Old Uncle.

Old Uncle put me on the path I am to follow; a path that I shall not disclose here, but it is through the conversations I had with Old Uncle that I set my life path on.  During those conversations Old Uncle talked as though he would be here for this presentation even though it appeared that he only a few days left.  I believe that he is here, not in body but in Spirit!!!