I am Mentor C. Addicks, Jr., better known as Duke. I received my B.A. in anthropology in 1963, and especially remember enjoying classes with my adviser, department chair E. Adamson Hoebel, and professors Elden Johnson, Rupert Murrill, James Gibbs, and Jesse Jennings.
I was a professional storyteller even back then, and my interest was in using oral history—that is, stories about historical and legendary individuals—as a basis for Native American Indian history and prehistory. I was also interested in pursuing graduate studies in the “law of primitive man," to borrow the title of Hoebel’s book, but he advised me to “go to law school first." I received a law degree from the University in 1966, and went on to practice law for forty years as a municipal attorney. I am semi-retired but still serve currently as Special Counsel to the League of Minnesota Cities.
I continued my interest in Indian stories as I was raised to be a “beloved son," or culture bearer, for my
community, the Euharlee Cherokee of northwestern Georgia, where I spent my summers being made into a storyteller. My courses in anthropology helped me realize over the years to always place my stories from my own and other tribes in their cultural context. I worked summers and breaks as a prospector for minerals with a group of Ojibwe trappers living traditional lives in Northwest Ontario, and I also learned hundreds of stories from some of their great storytellers.
Currently, I use my B.A. in anthropology in the following ways: I am the Chief Justice and official storyteller/fluteplayer for the Upper Mississippi Mdewakanton Indian Community. My specialty is telling stories from many Native American cultures about historical and legendary individuals. I developed and tell the story of “Conch Girl," known as Minnesota Woman, who lived over 9,000 years ago. For over twenty-five years, I have served as a volunteer naturalist, historian, and storyteller for the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge telling about the Indian history and prehistory of that river using stories about historic and legendary individuals.
I have also collected stories from elders and retell many authentic Native American Indian stories about the largest raptors in North America, the eagles and thunderbirds. I was the Native American Indian expert on thunderbirds on the History Channel’s 2007 special “Birdzilla," and I played Native American
flute throughout that program. I serve as a volunteer eagle handler and naturalist/storyteller at the National Eagle Center where I tell Native American Indian eagle legends with an eagle perched on my fist. I also am a volunteer special events educator and Raptor Corps leader at the Raptor Center at the
University of Minnesota. My 2007 Audio CD “Native American Eagle Tales," produced by the Upper Mississippi Mdewakanton Indian Community, is available through the bookstores at both the Raptor Center and the National Eagle Center.
I am also a member of the International Native American Flute Association and a well-respected Native American style flute player and flute music historian and was a presenter/performer at their 2006 and 2008 conferences. My flute audio CD titled “Courting the Eagles" is scheduled for release in 2008.
I am a member of La Compagnie des Hivernants de la Riviere de la Sainte Pierre, the Upper Mississippi society for fur trade era re-enactors, telling about the Native American Indian fur traders whose stories are not told in history books. My first-person telling as Scottish-born fur trader James Aird, about his wife and daughter, the two Grey Cloud Women—powerful fur traders in the Upper Mississippi—is an
official Minnesota Sesquicentennial event for 2008.
For more information about the other considerable mischief a holder of a B.A. in anthropology from the University has gotten into, plus a lifetime of listening to what Native American Indians have to say, see my website at www.DukeAddicksStoryteller.com.