The Firewater Tavern is owned and very personally operated by Chief Dennis Dubois (Cliff '73), a tribal leader of the Nez Percé Nation and Founder of the Cliff College American Indian Student Movement (now the Native American Student Union). Twenty-five years ago, Dennis and his friends spent enormous amounts of time and very little cash at what was then a poorly managed diner called "Mel's Eats." Though Mel didn't advertise the fact, he was one-quarter Nez Percé, so when he died intestate, Dennis seized the opportunity to claim the diner for the tribe. Once the diner was under tribal control, Dennis was able to circumvent local ordinances to procure a liquor licence, and the rest is history. He soon rallied the dying diner into a highly successful tavern and internationally acclaimed tribal museum. Along the way he managed to chronicle the venture and turn the experience into his senior thesis.

Today, "The Firewater Tavern" is a major source of income for the local Nez Percé corporation, as well as being powwow central for NASU, which has grown from its humble beginnings in Dennis's dorm room into a political powerhouse here at Cliff College and, indeed, throughout the state. But it is not only the politically active who flock to The Firewater -- people travel from all over the world to see the incomparable collection of Native American artifacts that Dennis has painstakingly assembled to remind us all of the rich history of North America's indigenous peoples.

Unfortunately, the highlight of this collection, the famous Maltese falcon (which was immortalized in the film of the same name, though the Nez Percé falcon wasn't encased in black enamel), disappeared in 1973 along with Dennis' older brother, Virgil Dubois, a promising young Assistant Professor of Classics in the Cliff College Sociology/Anthropology department. The falcon had been a gift from King Louis XVI to 18th Century Chief Shouting Bull (derisively called "Shitting Bull" because of what many oral-tradition scholars now believe to have been Chronic Bowel Syndrome, not from -- as forensic archaeologists contend -- dysentery. This hotly debated dispute, just last year, brought fisticuffs to the annual meeting of the Ohio State Society of Native American Historians). The falcon was given to the Nez Percé nation in 1754, in recognition of their brave and fierce campaign against George Washington's troops preventing the British from building a strategic fort at the Forks of the Ohio (Pittsburgh) during the French and Indian War.

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