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The People Named the Chippewa

The People Named the Chippewa: Narrative Histories

Gerald Vizenor
Copyright Date: 1984
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 184
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  • Book Info
    The People Named the Chippewa
    Book Description:

    Ranging in time and space from Madeline Island and the reservations of northern Minnesota to the urban reservation of Minneapolis-St. Paul, Vizenor recounts the experiences of the Chippewa and their encounters with the white people who “named” them.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8205-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-ix)
  3. [Illustrations]
    (pp. x-2)
  4. Prologue
    (pp. 3-6)

    Odinigun, an elder from the White Earth Reservation, told about the woodland trickster and the creation of the first earth. The people on the first earth were not wise, “they had no clothing . . . they sat around and did nothing. Then the spirit of the creator sent a man to teach them. . . .The first thing he taught them was how to make a fire by means of a bow and stick and a bit of decayed wood. . . . Then he taught them how to cook meat by the fire. They had no axes, but...

  5. Traditional origins
    (pp. 7-12)

    The woodland creation stories are told from visual memories and ecstatic strategies, not from scriptures. In the oral tradition, the mythic origins of tribal people are creative expressions, original eruptions in time, not a mere recitation or a recorded narrative in grammatical time. The teller of stories is an artist, a person of wit and imagination, who relumes the diverse memories of the visual past into the experiences and metaphors of the present. The past is familiar enough in the circles of the seasons, woodland places, lake and rivers, to focus a listener on an environmental metaphor and an intersection...

  6. The people named the chippewa
    (pp. 13-36)

    In the language of the tribal past, the families of the woodland spoke of themselves as the Anishinaabeg until the colonists named them the Ojibway and Chippewa. The word Anishinaabeg, the singular is Anishinaabe, is a phonetic transcription from the oral tradition. Tribal people used the word Anishinaabeg to refer to the people of the woodland who spoke the same language. The collective name was not an abstract concept of personal identities or national ideologies. Tribal families were the basic political and economic units in the woodland and the first source of personal identities.

    Individuals were given special names, dream...

  7. Shadows at la pointe
    (pp. 37-55)

    This morning the lake is clear and calm.

    Last night a cold wind washed slivers of ice clear over the beach, the end of a winter to remember. Now, the pale green becomes blue on the horizon. Spring opens in the birch, a meadow moves in the wind. The trees thicken down to the water, an invitation to follow the sun over the old fur trade post to a new world of adventures.

    We are late for school.

    The slivers of ice that marked the first cattails melt. The sun is warmer on our cheeks. We turn from side to...

  8. Three anishinaabeg writers
    (pp. 56-74)

    William Whipple Warren, mixedblood interpreter, historian, legislator, was seventeen years of age when he first observed a sacred tribal relic, a circular copper plate exhibited by the elder Tugwaugaunay at La Pointe on Madeline Island. There were eight marks, or indentations, on the copper plate, Warren remembers, each mark denoting one generation since the Anishinaabeg first lived on the island.

    “By the rude figure of a man with a hat on its head, placed opposite one of these indentations, was denoted the period when the white race first made his appearance among them,” Warren wrote in hisHistory of the...

  9. Old crow wing to white earth
    (pp. 75-97)

    Julia Spears moved from Madeline Island to the Chippewa Agency near Crow Wing in Minnesota. She was a widow with three children, and a government day school teacher, when the White Earth Reservation was established more than a century ago. “It was a year after the treaty,” she remembered in a letter about her experience, “before all the Indians could be persuaded to leave their old home.”

    The Younger Hole-in-the-day and other leaders of the Anishinaabeg, who were identified by public officials as the Mississippi Band of Chippewas, negotiated with the federal government to establish a new larger reservation in...

  10. Boarding school remembrance
    (pp. 98-112)

    Wayquahgishig, like many other tribal children, was forced to attend a federal boarding school hundreds of miles from his woodland home, separated from his friends and families, where he was given the name John Rogers and taught that his traditional tribal culture was inferior, even pagan and irrelevant. Rogers is an unusual person, not because he learned to read and write under dominant cultural duress—thousands of tribal children have survived cultural disunities in federal and mission boarding schools—but because he used his new language to write a sensitive book about his experiences on the White Earth Reservation, where...

  11. Firewater labels and methodologies
    (pp. 113-123)

    Plain Johnson, deep in cigarette smoke, hunkers over the wads of paper labels he peeled from seven bottles of cheap beer at the back of the bar. From a short distance he seems to be folded in the narrow booth, at the neck and stomach, a racial monad with swollen fingers. His bare elbows are thick, burnished from the tilt of his trunk, but there is nothing plain about this mixedblood tribal man who resisted social conversion in a foster home and saved his soul from the welfare state. In the afternoon Plain is a high altitude window washer, at...

  12. Dennis of wounded knee
    (pp. 124-138)

    Dennis Banks was dressed in secular vestments. He wore beads, bones, leathers, ribbons, and a cultural frown, for his appearance in court, where he was on trial for alleged violations of federal laws in connection with the occupation of Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

    Banks seldom smiles in public. He looked down that afternoon as he stood alone before twelve federal jurors. His focus seemed to shift from table to chair, past the rims and rails in the courtroom, and then he raised his head and told the jurors in his opening statement that he...

  13. The shaman and terminal creeds
    (pp. 139-153)

    “American Indians lack a word to denote what we call religion,” writes Åke Hultkrantz inThe Religions of the American Indians. “Of course, nothing else is to be expected in environments where religious attitudes and values permeate cultural life in its entirety and are not isolated from other cultural manifestations.”

    Tribal cultures did, however, denote in their languages the separation between what is traditional or sacred and what is secular or profane. Tribal cultures reveal supernatural events and remember the past in oral traditional stories. The tellers of these stories were the verbal artists of the time, those who imagined...

  14. Epilogue
    (pp. 154-158)

    Naanabozho, the compassionate tribal trickster, imagined the earth, animals, men, women, evil spirits, birds, death, and white people. These imaginative events were told in traditional tribal creation stories and several versions were recorded by an unusual mixedblood anthropologist.

    Now, when the earth was under water, as the event of the flood was told and translated, Naanabozho was perched on a great raft with his younger brother. “We will create the earth,” Naanabozho said in good humor. When the earth was finished the trickster and his brother created some people for the earth so they would not have to live alone...

    (pp. 161-166)
  16. Index
    (pp. 169-172)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 173-173)