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Talking Rocks

Talking Rocks: Geology and 10,000 Years of Native American Tradition in the Lake Superior Region

Ron Morton
Carl Gawboy
Illustrations by Carl Gawboy
Copyright Date: 2000
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 224
  • Book Info
    Talking Rocks
    Book Description:

    An earth scientist and a Native American elder explore the natural history of the Lake Superior region, examining both the science and the spirit of the land.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-9644-4
    Subjects: Environmental Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. iv-v)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. Author’s Note
    (pp. vii-x)
    Ron Morton
  5. CHAPTER ONE The Meeting
    (pp. 1-10)

    Pouring myself a glass of seventeen-year-old Bowmore, I sat back in a soft, wide chair and thought about everything that had occurred over the past few months. I thought especially about small things and how these could turn your world upside down, or downside up, as an 8-year-old girl once told me.

    A single quote: such a small thing, and yet, because of it, I would never again see my profession—heck, why not admit it, my addiction—in exactly the same way. Taking a sip of scotch, I had to smile as I remembered the first geology course I...

  6. CHAPTER TWO End of an Ice Age
    (pp. 11-32)

    The first lecture Earth Walks and I did together covered the ice age glacial history of the Lake Superior region. Therefore it was mostly my material or, as Earth Walks said, my “show,” for I had told him I used lots of slides and overhead transparencies. Earth Walks, however, would introduce the lecture and contribute material where relevant.

    During Earth Walks’ part of this first presentation, I started to realize that for Native Americans’ “living with the land” usually means their way of trying to understand and live with geology. It was this realization that ended up sending me on...

  7. CHAPTER THREE People of the Pays D’en Haut
    (pp. 33-60)

    The second lecture, which was primarily concerned with the earliest inhabitants of the Pays d’en Haut, also took place on a Friday evening. On this night the lecture hall was full, and I told Earth Walks that word of his storytelling prowess had spread far and wide, that all these people had come in hopes of a repeat performance.

    “They won’t be disappointed,” he matter-of-factly said.

    At the appointed time I stepped to the lectern, welcomed everyone, and began the introduction.

    “What do geologists and archeologists really know about the people who lived on the shores of Lake Agassiz and...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR Earth Roots
    (pp. 61-80)

    “Let me begin by thanking you,” Earth Walks said, looking relaxed and confident standing at the edge of the stage.

    “Giving up a nice Saturday afternoon to come and listen to the likes of me—that’s dedication or interest or masochism. And whichever, I much appreciate it.

    “As you know,” he continued, smiling at the audience, “this is an extra lecture in the series, one I specifically asked to have added. I thought it important that you know something about the Native Americans who today call a good part of the Pays d’en Haut home, and who have done so...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE The Wolf’s Head
    (pp. 81-110)

    “There is a vastness about Lake Superior’s blue-green waters that make it more like a sea than a lake,” I told some two hundred people. Somewhat to my surprise, after Earth Walks’ Saturday sermon, the lecture hall was overflowing, with a few people actually standing in the back.

    “In fact,” I continued, “it’s been written that Lake Superior breeds storms and rain and fog just like the sea, making it wild, masterful, and dreaded, as any great sea should be.

    “The lake also has character,” I said more softly. “The way it gently rubs against the legs of laughing children...

  10. CHAPTER SIX A Long Winter Night
    (pp. 111-136)

    “As you know, we will conclude this lecture series with field trips tomorrow and Saturday,” I told more people than I was certain we could accommodate. This large number of people had made scheduling field trips a nightmare. For the first time I truly wished for a smaller audience.

    Out loud I said, “Due to scheduling, hours of operation, and access, we will first visit an Ojibwe winter camp and a North West fur trading post. These have been reconstructed to look as they would have in the late seventeen or early eighteen hundreds. Then, on Saturday, we will go...

  11. CHAPTER SEVEN Makers of the Magic Smoke
    (pp. 137-166)

    I hate early-morning phone calls. Waking in the weak light, fear causing a minor earthquake inside the stomach, and the necessity of lifting the receiver and having to be civil to hear the dreadful news.

    “Hello,” half mumbled, half screamed.

    “You’re home,” a cheerful voice. “Back from exploiting Mother Earth, I presume.”

    “Earth Walks,” I groaned, relief making me feel ten pounds lighter.

    “Good to hear your voice too.”

    “It’s four in the morning! Do you know that?” I yelled.

    “When the spirit calls, follow her you must,″ he answered.

    “Listen. I apologize for the hour but I have been...

  12. CHAPTER EIGHT The Talking Sky
    (pp. 167-196)

    I hate deerflies. In fact, I think most geologists do. But then, when you work out of doors in remote places, especially where it is hot and dry, who wouldn’t? The incessant buzz and hum as they circle round and round your head, small sharks waiting for a feeding frenzy. Clouds of them swarming over you like ants over a pot of sugar every time you stop to examine an outcrop. Insect spray, even the stuff that takes the varnish off pencils and dissolves plastic, does no good. I’ve drenched the back of my hands with such poison, and as...

  13. CHAPTER NINE The Never-Ending Circle
    (pp. 197-202)

    “Damn habit forming,” Earth Walks said.

    Looking up from my notes, I stared at him, not knowing what he meant or where he was coming from. We had been meeting twice a week for the past two months in preparation for the upcoming summer program. Just now we had been discussing the possibility of a two- or three-day bus tour, either south to Jeffers, Pipestone, and the Minnesota River valley, or north to Grand Portage, the North Shore volcanics, and Lake Superior. I wanted to go north, Earth Walks south.

    “Habit forming you know,” Earth Walks repeated, louder than before....

  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 203-208)
  15. Index
    (pp. 209-213)