The Dance Boots

The Dance Boots

Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 152
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  • Book Info
    The Dance Boots
    Book Description:

    In this stirring collection of linked stories, Linda LeGarde Grover portrays an Ojibwe community struggling to follow traditional ways of life in the face of a relentlessly changing world. In the title story an aunt recounts the harsh legacy of Indian boarding schools that tried to break the indigenous culture. In doing so she passes on to her niece the Ojibwe tradition of honoring elders through their stories. In "Refugees Living and Dying in the West End of Duluth," this same niece comes of age in the 1970s against the backdrop of her forcibly dispersed family. A cycle of boarding schools, alcoholism, and violence haunts these stories even as the characters find beauty and solace in their large extended families. With its attention to the Ojibwe language, customs, and history, this unique collection of riveting stories illuminates the very nature of storytelling. The Dance Boots narrates a century's evolution of Native Americans making choices and compromises, often dictated by a white majority, as they try to balance survival, tribal traditions, and obligations to future generations.

    eISBN: 978-0-8203-3748-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
    (pp. 1-19)

    We Ojibwe believe that God the Creator has put each of us in the living world with a gift or talent, something that we are supposed to search for in ourselves, thank Him for, and contribute to those we share the world with. We are each born for a purpose, each with tasks to accomplish. My aunt Shirley’s was to remember by heart and teach by rote, mine to learn by rote and remember by heart. With Shirley gone, one of these days the time will be right for me to become the teacher. I will choose someone who, like...

    (pp. 20-41)

    When Maggie fled her family home on the Mozhay Point Indian Reservation headed for the railroad tracks that led to Duluth, it was without her husband, who was because of her lying unconscious on the floor next to the woodstove, or her three oldest children, who in the fall had been blown from home by the winds of seasonal change and federal Indian policy to boarding school. She did take her two small boys and—tied into a flowered quilt—some children’s clothing, several potatoes, and a pan of lugallette. And his rifle, which she wrapped in a gunnysack and...

    (pp. 42-58)

    The first time Maggie saw Louis she was sitting at the work table in the laundry building, next to the window for the light, mending stockings. She sat erect on the wooden chair, her body held inches away from the back in order to demonstrate proper posture to the group of girls learning how to set the darning egg into the curves of toes and heels.

    “Watch how I do this, first,” she said, demonstrating to the silent row that sat across from her at the table. “Use the darning needle to pick up the ends of knitted weave not...

    (pp. 59-76)

    We wouldn’t be back at Aunt Babe’s house until two years later, the afternoon in 1970 after Louis’s funeral, which would be in most ways but not all a different type of gathering. After the funeral, the dining room would look bare, the chairs moved back against the walls and the table set with a lace cloth, potato salad, sandwiches, and a bottle of Dubonnet, and while the room was still death cooled and the rest of the living not back yet from the mortuary, so quiet with nobody talking yet, Auntie Girlie and Sis would go up and pour...

    (pp. 77-99)

    The horses lived on the other side of the wooden fence at the edge of Mr. McCuskey’s farm, in their own horse paradise of woods and meadow and barn. Violet and I secretly rode them from time to time both summers we lived there, in the meadow that like the McCuskey farm was lost in forfeit to the county for back taxes not long after Mrs. McCuskey took Violet and after little Sam and I went to the orphanage. For decades now the horse paradise has been the jail and work farm, and McCuskey’s farm the nursing home, where Lisette...

    (pp. 100-121)

    Setting pins at the Palace Bowl was repetitious work. To do it took rhythm, but not the kind of rhythm that let you forget about what you were doing and think of other things—that was Punk’s advice. A lot of guys had gotten hurt that way, he told us that first night. “It’s easy to let your mind wander away, but you gotta be careful. Work with the rhythm but just make sure you pay attention, and you’ll be all right.” After a while I was able to do that, work with the rhythm but pay attention, yet my...

    (pp. 122-128)

    Joe Washington watched the three of them in the mirror. Him, Mickey, and Louis. Three Indians sitting at the bar in the Viking, their faces reflected in a blemished mirror through moving clouds of cigarette smoke. “We look like hell,” he thought, “especially Mickey. All the smoke in this place can’t be good for him.”

    Mickey’s shoulders shuddered and heaved as he repressed a cough. He held a heavy white coffee cup up to the bartender, who filled it again; then he took a sip of coffee, set the cup down on the bar, and pulled a fistful of stained...

    (pp. 129-150)

    “Good girl. She’s a good old girl, Bineshii. Gets us where we want to go.” Earl’s car, a green Falcon, was coated with red taconite dust from the road to Mesabi, where he had driven Alice earlier in the day to buy new winter boots, a Harlequin romance, a Soldier of Fortune magazine, and a pink toilet seat, like her friend Beryl’s, at Pamida. He patted the dash. “Miigwa-yaak, ina? Isn’t that so?” Then to Alice, who didn’t reply, “Oh, gi-nibaa, little girl. Well, you have a good nap. Bineshii will keep me company; she’s good company. Bineshii will just...

  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 151-152)