Mike Page: Master Fiddler
By Kade Ferris
Master fiddler Mike Page was born on June 30, 1939, the son of Jean Baptiste Page and Frances Fayant.
One of 14 children, Mike and his family farmed and lived west of Belcourt and northwest of the St. Anthony's Catholic Church in the foothills of the Turtle Mountains.
Jean Baptiste was a fiddler and passed down his skills to his sons - including Mike - and over his lifetime Mike became a well-known and respected Metis fiddler.
Mike was featured on the Smithsonian Folkways CD Plains Chippewa/Metis Music From the Turtle Mountains (1984) and was also featured in the documentary film, Medicine Fiddle (1992). On June 11, 2010, Mike was inducted into the Fiddlers Hall of Fame at the International Peace Gardens.
Mike enjoyed spending time with his children and grandchildren, visiting and telling stories. He loved history and never stopped learning.
Mike married Dorothy Azure on November 25, 1965, and together they raised 5 children, 13 grandchildren, and 5 great-grandchildren. Mike passed away on Monday, January 25, 2016, at Belcourt hospital.
Why we Marry for Love (a Legend)
Story by Kade Ferris
On a lonely river, in a small village, once lived a man named Gizhiiyaanimad and his wife Baashkaabigwanii. They had three children: two sons, Bizhiins and Gekek, a daughter named Anangokwe. The children grew up to be fine people and one day the daughter married a man who came to her father and offered many furs and gifts for her. Her father accepted these, even though the man, Wiiyagasenh was known to be a bad man, and even though Anangokwe did not like him. Sadly, Anangokwe went away with her new husband and soon found he was a very jealous man who often hit her for no reason other than he enjoyed being cruel.
One day, Wiiyagasenh decided to go hunting in a very remote area that was quite a distance away from camp. Gizhiiyaanimad and Baashkaabigwanii knew that Wiiyagasenh was often brutal and abusive to Anangokwe, and they were afraid that he might kill her while out hunting while she was alone with him. They decided to send Bizhiins along with under the pretense of ‘helping’ his brother in law. The two men and the Anangokwe camped near a lake that had lots of nesting ducks in the rushes along the shore. They set up camp and took up hunting.
When her brother was out hunting by himself, Anangokwe's husband ordered her to bring him a duck egg for breakfast. While down at the shore of the lake, she met a man who said to her “Aniin young lady. What do you want?” Anangokwe responded, “My husband has sent me to get an egg” she answered. He gave her one, which she carried home and set down outside the wigwam. When her husband asked her if she had brought the egg, she told him that she had left it outside. He went out and looked at it, then said very angrily “I don't want a small egg like this! I will surely starve. I want a big one.” Anangokwe returned to the lake and, meeting the same man again, said to him “It is a big egg that my husband wants.” The man smiled and he picked up an egg twice the size of a normal duck egg. He gave her the big egg and she walked back to the camp and again left outside the wigwam. But her husband only became angrier and said, “Stupid woman! This egg is not big enough. Bring me a bigger one” and he hit her across the face. So for the third time she returned to the lake and told the man that her husband was not satisfied. The man took her hand and said, “Young woman. Nothing you can do will satisfy your husband. He only wants to kill you. Remain with me. You must not go home.”
The woman stayed with the man. Her brother returned from his hunting and asked her husband “Where is your wife…my sister?” “I do not know,” the husband answered. After discussing it, Biizhins and Wiiyagasenh followed Anangokwe's tracks to the lake and looked out over the water. Suddenly, Anangokwe rose up from the middle of the lake. She told her brother what had happened. In anger, Bizhiins turned to his brother in law and hit him with his club, killing him. Anangokwe then said to Bizhiins, “Brother. Return to our parents. You must tell them to come to this lake at the same time as this next year.” Bizhiins told her he would, and he returned to his village and reported this to his parents.
Exactly a year later, Gizhiiyaanimad and Baashkaabigwanii came to the lake, and Anangokwe rose from the water. In one arm she was holding a baby girl, and in the other was a baby boy. She said to her parents, “Mother and father. Take these children and raise them. When they grow up let them marry for love and not because of custom. I married the wrong man because if it, and I was miserable.”
From that day forward, the people made the decision to take love into consideration when choosing spouses for their sons and daughters.
Kade M. Ferris, MSc