Ogimawkwe Mitigwaki (Queen of the Woods)

Ogimawkwe Mitigwaki (Queen of the Woods)

Simon Pokagon
With a foreword by Philip J. Deloria
John N. Low
Margaret Noori
Kiara M. Vigil
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Ogimawkwe Mitigwaki (Queen of the Woods)
    Book Description:

    Simon Pokagon, the son of tribal patriarch Leopold Pokagon, was a talented writer, advocate for the Pokagon Potawatomi community, and tireless self-promoter.In 1899, shorty after his death, Pokagon's novelOgimawkwe Mitigwaki(Queen of the Woods)-only the second ever published by an American Indian-appeared. It was intended to be a testimonial to the traditions, stability, and continuity of the Potawatomi in a rapidly changing world. Read today,Queen of the Woodsis evidence of the author's desire to mark the cultural, political, and social landscapes with a memorial to the past and a monument to a future that included the Pokagon Potawatomi as distinct and honored people.This new edition offers a reprint of the original 1899 novel with the author's introduction to the language and culture of his people. In addition, new accompanying materials add context through a cultural biography, literary historical analysis, and linguistic considerations of the unusual text.

    eISBN: 978-1-60917-217-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword to the Current Edition
    (pp. vii-xii)
    Philip J. Deloria

    The book you hold in your hands, Simon PokagonʹsOGIMAWKWE Mitigwaki (Queen of the Woods), is an undeniably odd piece of work. It can be read as a mawkish, sentimental romantic tragedy—or as a subtle recounting of the key ideological underpinnings of American conquest and colonialism. One reader might view the book as an effort to preserve Native language and culture, while another might as easily see in it evidence of the cultural inferiority complex that has so often accompanied attempts at forced assimilation. You might read Pokagon as a cagey trickster figure, as a problematic self-promoting opportunist, as...

  4. The Architecture of Simon Pokagon—In Text and on Display
    (pp. 1-30)
    John N. Low

    Holding history in my hands, a portal to a shared past, time speaks to me through this book—its leaves, like worn and delicate sheets of birch bark. Its talking pages pass on traditions as I turn them, as I fold the covers in to keep safe the lived experiences of then and now. This small book, a treasure, a memorial to my ancestors, a monument to the resiliency of a people, a tribe—ironically, unexpectedly, and eloquently, written by a man despised by some of his own people, yet embraced by the wealthy of his day. This man insinuated...

  5. Turn of the Century Indian Intellectualism: Language and Literacy in Simon Pokagon’s Queen of the Woods
    (pp. 31-56)
    Kiara M. Vigil

    ʺBoozhoo!ʺ appears throughout Simon Pokagonʹs 1899 text as a common salutation exchanged between Indian characters inOgimawkwe Mitigwaki (Queen of the Woods). Depending on your linguistic interpretation, we might see this expression as an Indianized version of ʺbonjourʺ—and as a word that references a long history of cross-cultural trade and communication between Indians and Europeans in North America.¹ Central to this trade relationship was the negotiation of cultural and linguistic differences, which I will show in this essay is what Pokagonʹs book strives in many ways to recover.² Pokagonʹs use of this greeting takes advantage of the ambiguities of...

  6. Reading Queen of the Woods Today
    (pp. 57-76)
    Margaret Noori

    Ndʹbagosendaam shkitooyaamba wiindamaag, ʺSimon Pokagon, nʹbishigendaan gdoʹmazinaigan miinwaa da gikendaasoyin geyabi gete-dibaajimowinan noondaamaanan biinji-chi-wiigwaamaning enji-Anishinaabemoyaang noongwa.ʺ Translating these words literally, I wish I could tell him: ʺSimon Pokagon, I like your book and you should know I still hear them, the old stories, in the birch lodges where we speak Anishinaabemowin today.ʺ I am not sure he could have imagined my comment when he wrote his book.Gonemaa giishpin nʹgii noondawig, giiʹenh zhoobiingwed.

    Queen of the Woodsis the story of Simon, the son of Leopold and Elizabeth, the husband first of Lonidaw then Angeline, the father of seven children,...

  7. A Brief Sketch of Chief Simon Pokagon’s Life [From the original Publisher’s Notes]
    (pp. 77-82)

    Chief Simon Pokagon¹ was born in the old Pokagon Indian village located on Pokagon Creek about one mile from St. Joseph River, Berrien County, Mich., in 1830. He is a full-blooded Pottawattamie Indian, and the last chief of the Pokagon band. At fourteen years of age he could speak his mother tongue only; he was then sent to the Notre Dame school near South Bend, Ind., where he remained three years. Returning home fired with zeal for a good English education, he succeeded through his own efforts, aided by his mother, in going to Oberlin College, Ohio. Here he remained...

  8. The Algonquin Language
    (pp. 83-92)
    Simon Pokagon

    In presenting ʺQueen of the Woodsʺ to the public, I realize that many of its readers will inquire why so many Indian words are used. All such will please bear in mind that the manuscript was first written in the Algonquin language, the only language spoken by me until fourteen years of age, and that in translating it into English, many parts of it seem to lose their force and euphony, insomuch that I deeply regret that ʺQueen of the Woodsʺ can not be read by the white people in my own language. It is indeed mortifying for me to...

  9. Editorial Note [TO THE CURRENT EDITION]
    (pp. 93-96)

    Simon Pokagon made it clear in his original dedication thatQueen of the Woodsis a novel of racial politics. The goal of this new edition is to represent the story and subject as they connect to contemporary culture. An introduction and essays have been added to contextualize the narrative, and minor editorial steps have been taken to make the work as readable as possible. However, the primary aim of the reprint is the same as the original: to allow Simon Pokagon to address the racism of his time, and to invite readers to consider the issue.

    The publisherʹs preface...

  10. Ogimawkwe Mitigwaki

    • CHAPTER 1
      (pp. 99-104)

      On my return home from Twinsburg, O. [Ohio], where I had attended the white manʹs school for several years, I had an innate desire to retire into the wild woods, far from the haunts of civilization, and there enjoy myself with bow and arrow, hook and line, as I had done before going to school. Judging from my returning love of the chase, and from various conversations with educated people of the white race, I have come to the conclusion that there is a charm about hunting and fishing, planted deep in the human heart by Natureʹs own hand, that...

    • CHAPTER 2
      (pp. 105-112)

      Near the summerʹs close, while living there, a little maiden, ever now and then, appeared across the stream, with waist of red and skirt of brown, with raven tresses floating in the breeze, following up, but never down the stream. She was always singing, as she gaily tripped along, in mimicry of the music of the birds. Sometimes in her songs, in fancy I could hear and see close by, in bush or brake, the bobolink tuning his voice to cheer his nesting mate. At other times I would look up,almostconvinced that I could see him dancing in...

    • CHAPTER 3
      (pp. 113-120)

      On reaching the boat, launched by the riverʹs shore, Lonidaw handed her mother the ball of twine which she had brought. She quickly tied the cord to the bow of the boat, carefully got in, and while Lonidaw held the ball, she pushed out into the stream. I now first knew why the twine was brought. The maid and I now left alone, with none to hear except the deer, our words were very few and simple; but our thoughts were many, and filled with eloquence. Soon the mother reached the other shore, and with her hand a motion made...

    • CHAPTER 4
      (pp. 121-128)

      To our surprise it was late in the forenoon. Mother hastily prepared our simple woodland meal of ʺsheshep,ʺ ʺkegon,ʺ and ʺmedawminʺ (duck, fish, and corn), a right royal meal for kindred souls who had gone supperless all night. While eating, our guests informed us they expected ʺAukewaze,ʺ the old Ottawa trapper, down the ʺSebeʺ during the day to take them home; as he had promised, when he brought them there, to be back ʺnetawn tobikkezesʺ (the first full moon) in that month. After breakfast we all went down to the riverʹs shore to keep watch for the old trapper. About...

    • CHAPTER 5
      (pp. 129-138)

      Having slept none the previous night, as the sun went down, we all wrapped our blankets about us, and lay down to sleep. At midnightʹs hour, the old man shook my arm, saying, ʺKebawin?ʺ (Are you asleep?) ʺYes,ʺ I replied, ʺuntil you shook me.ʺ He sighed, and then said, ʺYoung chief, I can not understand how one of all our race can sleep when he recalls how awshkontay nebesh (firewater), that alluring jangendjiged (enemy) brought among us by the whites, is destroying kwiwizens and oshkinawe (our boys and young men), as well as akiwesi (our old men), and laying waste...

    • CHAPTER 6
      (pp. 139-146)

      At sunrise, as we were sitting on a rug, of sweetgrass and rushes made, Lonidaw sitting close beside me, with ʺZowanʺ (the dog) in front, ʺningawʺ (her mother) opened wide the door to let the sunlight in. There, just outside, facing us, stood the sacred deer; but he was a mere skeleton of his former self. Motionless he seemed to stand, with head drooped low and hair upturned, with wounded nose and frothing mouth, with lolling tongue and wilted ears, with sunken eyes and antlers gone,—there he stood the very personification of ʺgawewinʺ (jealousy).¹

      Springing to my feet in...

    • CHAPTER 7
      (pp. 147-158)

      Just before reaching her motherʹs wigwam, some one called out, ʺLoda, Loda!ʺ She turned about, exclaiming, ʺEnaubin! Enaubin!ʺ (Look! Look!) I did so, and saw approaching a tall, middle-aged man of the Ottawa tribe, dressed in native style, leading a large, gray wolf along the trail toward us. Loda, stepping backward, exclaimed, ʺNegebawn! (My soul!) Kawkee, where did you get tchi mawingawn (that wolf)?ʺ ʺDown by the Sebe,ʺ he replied. As I stepped to one side, looking the wild animal over, noticing his drooping head and straightened tail, with sneaky eyes upturned, I was about to speak to the stranger,...

    • CHAPTER 8
      (pp. 159-166)

      When ʺwabigoni gissisʺ¹ came, and mating birds were moving north in song, and wild flowers were blooming, and the trees were putting on their robes of green, I took the hand of my dear, young, loved Lonidaw, and she became my bride. No wedding cards were passed around, no gifts were made, no bells were rung, no feast was given, no priest declared us one. We only pledged our sincere faith before her mother and the King of Heaven. Our hopes, our joys were one.

      Hand in hand, along an ancient trail we took our course until we reached a...

    • CHAPTER 9
      (pp. 167-170)

      I do not wish to bleed my own heart, or sadden yours; suffice it to say, as darkness succeeds the meteorʹs sudden glare, so his young life went out and left us in the midnight of despair.

      Dear little Hazeleye alone was left us then; that sweet rosebud, just opening into maidenhood, the very image of her mother, was our only hope, and as our hearts were bound up in hers, we consoled ourselves with the assurance that she was so isolated from the alluring serpent born of the white man that she was safe from all harm that might...

    • CHAPTER 10
      (pp. 171-178)

      On her funeral day, no relatives in sable robes appeared, no hearse, with ostrich feathers crowned, bore her form away.

      But native hunters of the wild, who oft had shared the bounties of her home, they dug her grave at early morn; then came with fragrant woodland flowers, and on her casket laid them.

      They came with blankets of pure white about their shoulders thrown, and with moccasins of deer-hide upon their feet, while, with uncovered heads and muffled tread, slowly they bore her from the door away.

      A Christian teacher and I next to them came, while in our...

    • CHAPTER 11
      (pp. 179-184)

      Being fully convinced that sorrow and desolation followed everywhere in the footsteps of strong drink, I recalled the dying request of my dear, lost Lonidaw, and again sealed the sacred contract within my heart, that I would raise ʺmigasʺ (the war-whoop) of alarm against that old dragon, not only in behalf of my own race, but in behalf of the white race as well, so long as life should last. But the solemn thought came home to ʺnintchitchagʺ (my soul), What can I do in my ʺkitimagisiwinʺ (poverty)—I, a child of the forest? Already I am broken down by...

    • CHAPTER 12
      (pp. 185-190)

      In the mighty onward march of research and improvement, Pokagon has no desire to tighten the reins, to curb physical or scientific development; but in driving the triple team that moves the great car of civilization, he would cautiously urge forward that one which lags behind, that all in concert might keep step side by side, until the goal is reached. The most humble prayer of Pokagon is that the great and learned who now occupy this loved land of his fathers and mothers, may in ʺnigawinʺ (the future) labor as zealously to search out the science of good government...

  11. Appendix 1. Pokagon’s Address at the World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893
    (pp. 191-206)
  12. Appendix 2. Pokagon’s Address at the Gem Opera House at Liberty, Indiana, January 7, 1898
    (pp. 207-210)
  13. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 211-215)