Lake Fausse Point, Louisiana

February 13th, 2005

On With the Show

All I can say is thank you.

You folks are the best. The kind phone calls, visits, handshakes and e-mails have been overwhelming. It remains to be seen if my appearance on the television will bring me any further riches, but I'll tell you this: I'm a rich man already because of you kind folks.

A few observations from both episodes of Fly Fishing America with me and my Blackfeet cousin Joe Kipp fishing in Montana and Louisiana.

Just for the record, those waders were borrowed, and were for a man about six feet tall, so they kinda bunched up around my midsection, which made me look kinda like an Oompa Loompa. Now, that's not to say I haven't a midsection. I wish the show had been done before I stopped smoking, but the first segment in Montana was filmed about three months... no, let me put it this way, about fifteen pounds into my non-smoking life, and the Louisiana segment about thirty pounds into my non-smoking life. Oh, well. I don't smoke anymore, but for a cigar now and then on the water, and that's a good thing.

I also want to note that in the interview segments where I'm sitting on the log, that was the last day and I didn't know I was going on camera for that interview, so yes, I had not shaved. Since Indian men most often don't have facial hair to speak of, and since I'm a mixed 'Breed, what whisker growth I have is sorta random and unpredictable, often resembling maps of unstable third world nations, i.e., constantly shifting.

Just after the first show the phone started ringing. The first caller said, "Rog, can I have your autograph?" in good humor, and I said, "You shoulda asked yesterday. It was free then. It's ten bucks now!"

The second caller was greeted by my answering the phone and saying, "Hi, this is the publicist for Roger Stouff. Mr. Stouff can't come to the phone right now, can I take a message?"

I kept hearing the theme to the "Bugs Bunny and Road Runner Hour" in my head:

"Overture! Curtain! Lights
"This is it, we'll hit new heights
"And oh what heights we'll hit
"On with the show, this is it!"

What, ya'll got a problem with Bugs? My number one hero, bar none. Second is Bogie, third is the Duke.

Anyway, if it hadn't been for those midsection-jumbling waders, I still don't know why I had to wear waders, since we never got in more than mid-thigh deep water. I figured it was so the bears would have something to use as a napkin. Anyway, if it wasn't for those waders and I had looked dashing and thin...well, it would have been an episode of "The Twilight Zone," wouldn't it?

The show did not include footage of the two big cutthroat trout I caught in Goose Lake, but I have photos to prove it. They are in my columns on the Montana trip in the archives here, too. Joe Kipp, my Blackfeet cousin, is a trout fishing guide and there ain't none better in Blackfeet country. If you wanna go, give him a call or visit www.blackfeettrout.com

Yes, it's true, my friend Sheriff Naquin was baitfishing. I have told you kind folks repeatedly: In this exact geographic area of mine, fly fishing is a rare thing. Go fifty miles east, west or north of me and you see a lot more of it, but right around me area, there aren't many of us who throw flies. The sheriff was throwing bait shrimp trying to locate fish, but nobody on the bay was catching that day, so you can't blame it on the fly fishermen! The wind was up twenty-to-thirty miles per hour, a minor cold front came through, and a major one that night. The timing was just all wrong, but hey, that's Hollywood!

Yes, it's true, the baitcasters among us believe the best water depth instrument is not a Lowrance but whatever rod we happen to be using. And yes, it's true, Joe's a far better fly caster than me!

I'd be remiss to not mention Barrett Productions and the awesome job they did with the whole thing. A great crew to work with on both fronts, Montana and Louisiana.

Many of you have commented on the camaraderie and sense of kin between Blackfeet and Chitimacha, and I'm glad it was so evident. I hope it won't be my last trip to the Backbone of the World, and I'd like to eventually get Joe onto some redfish down here.

But note also the distance we've come among the larger community. Two Indians, both reservation Indians though we've both been on and off for long periods of our lives, both connected to our waters. One of us is further removed from his ways after more centuries of assimilation, but regaining it one step, one battle, at a time.

But the larger whole is that the perception to the non-Indian community here. We're friends who happen to be Indians, and there comes a point among friends, in time, when you just don't even think of the adjective anymore, they're just friends. Among my friends, like the sheriff and the other kind folks who ran boats for the camera crew and cooked incredibly awesome suppers for us after the fishing, when the whole proposal of this shoot first came up last spring, there was a feeling of, "Oh, yeah, that's right, you are Indian."

I'm reminded of Drew Hayden Taylor, an Ojibwe 'Breed who aptly titled his first book, Funny, You Don't Look Like One: Adventures of a Blue-eyed Ojibwe.

It's not because I hide it, or don't talk about. Hell, I write newspaper columns and books about it! But the mark of true friends, I think, is when you don't think about it, and those kinds of friendships are banners that, after all our cultures have been through after five hundred years, we can make it together after all, with all our individualism and uniqueness as people and as a culture intact. ~ Roger


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