Heritage is important for a man of action

Stacy Herrmann

Known to his co-workers, friends and family as “Action Jaxon,” Facilities Management clerk Darryl Jackson runs the gamut from fledgling Native American historian to golf nut.
Jackson, who has worked in the same Facilities Management office for 13 years, likes to bring his outside passions into his work place. Awards, cartoons and other paraphernalia have overrun Jackson’s office on the West Bank.
An employee safety award sits on a shelf next to a hard hat with a helicopter propeller, which Jackson received for being employee of the month.
“I enjoy life to the fullest,” Jackson said in explanation of his various knickknacks.
However, life hasn’t always been easy for Jackson. A Chippewa from Cambridge, Minn., he grew up in a foster home with two half-brothers. He did not meet his mother and other members of his tribe until he was in his early 20s.
Although he did not grow up on the Mille Lacs reservation with the rest of his relatives, Jackson’s foster family encouraged him and his two half-brothers to be proud of their Native American heritage.
Because he did not meet his real mother until he was in his early 20s, Jackson never understood why she gave up her children. It wasn’t until he became very close to his mother later in life that he realized she did it for their benefit. Jackson said being a single parent prevented her from raising him the way she would have wanted.
All Jackson knows about his heritage is what he has learned in school and heard from others. He wishes he had stronger family ties, but said, “I am proud of my heritage, and I am proud of where I am now.”
Witnessing the Chippewa tribe’s struggles over casinos and reservation rights has given Jackson an appreciation for his ancestry.
Jann Nelson, Jackson’s wife who also works in Facilities Management, said her husband of 14 years has learned much from his life’s struggles.
“He’s just really upbeat and positive about life,” Nelson said.
One of the passions of Jackson’s life is golf. Although he’s been playing it since high school, he said he has become serious about it in the past decade. He said he appreciates the mental challenge of the game.
Among his numerous awards and knickknacks in his office, Jackson has a sign that reads, “I golf therefore I am.” On top of his file cabinet sits a bowl filled with golf balls that people have found and dropped off to add to his collection.
Jackson said his outlook on life is illustrated by a cartoon picture hanging in his office. The cartoon is a frog being swallowed by a pelican, but the frog is grasping pelican’s neck, trying to save itself.
“Don’t ever give up. That’s my motto here as far as the U is concerned,” said Jackson.