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Life Among the Lake Superior Ojibway

Johann Georg Kohl

Publication Year: 1985

Johann Georg Kohl’s classic work about the Ojibway of Lake Superior is a fascinating study in contrasts and similarities. An urbane, well-traveled European, a trained ethnologist, and an accomplished popular writer, Kohl (1808-1878) visited the Ojibway in 1855 and turned his sensitive powers of observation on a nation of people he found not unlike his own. He describes daily life, detailing religious practices, legends, foods, games, medicines, homes, clothing, and methods to travel, hunting, and fishing. Kohl’s respect for the Ojibway makes his writing especially appealing to the modern reader.

Published by: Minnesota Historical Society Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. iii-iv


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pp. v-xi

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pp. xiii-xxxix

THE windy shores of Lake Superior probably seemed like another world to Johann Georg Kohl when, in the summer of 1855, he visited the Ojibway Indians in northern Wisconsin. Kohl, a German geographer, ethnologist, and travel writer, extended his trip in order...

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pp. xl-xlii

THIS edition of Kitchi-Gami is a reprint of the 1860 English translation by Lascelles Wraxall. Although Kohl approved Wraxall's work, many of Kohl's words are left out of the translation. The first appendix to this edition offers five legends that were published in Kohl's original text but were...

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pp. 1-12

THE small island on which I am taking my first notes about the tribe of the Ojibbeways, their traditions, manners, and customs, lies on the western side of the Canadian Lake Superior, which is as large as the kingdoms of Bavaria and Wurtemberg...

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pp. 13-26

The Indians call him their " Great Father from Washington," as they call the President their "Great Father in Washington." They call everybody at all connected with government, Father, and, judging from the great number of fathers these children of the...

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pp. 27-39

THE word " canoe," the title given by the Europeans to the various kinds of clumsy boats employed by the American aborigines, is derived from the West Indies. The Spaniards were the first to learn the word and bring it into currency. One of the oldest Spanish writers on the Indians, Peter Martyr, a contemporary...

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pp. 40-52

HEARING that the Indians had built a temple wigwam on the beach, about two miles off, and that a grand festival was coming off, in which a father would present his boy for reception into the order of the Mides, we started at an early hour, in order to see as much as we could of the...

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pp. 53-64

THE political discussions between the American agents and the Indians have commenced on our island. Every day we have public assemblies in the open air, in which many chiefs distinguish themselves as orators, and much that is instructing and characteristic may be...

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pp. 65-80

Charity and liberality, as regards the goods given by God, and noble hospitality, are praised as the principal virtues among non-Christian nations equally as with us. Among the Indians this reaches such a pitch, that it is one of the chief obstacles to their...

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pp. 81-90

THE remark which Tacitus makes of our old Germanic ancestors, that they spent one half their life in hunting and war, the other half in idleness and play, is equally referable to these savage Indians. It is really incredible what a variety of games they have...

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pp. 91-104

One evening she crept in as usual, and, as we had no visitors, and were alone with her, my interpreter requested her to tell us one of her pretty stories. " Does she know any?'' I asked, somewhat doubtingly; and though my Canadian friend insisted she...

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pp. 105-116

THE drum had been beaten two evenings in succession in a lodge about half a mile from mine, in which a young couple lived. There was a sick and dying child there, which the doctors attended daily. One evening, passing near the wigwam, I could not resist...

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pp. 117-136

ANY map of the United States will show us that the districts round about Lake Superior have the names of Wisconsin, Michigan, &c. Here, however, in the country itself, Canadians and Indians employ very different names. I will mention some of them...

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pp. 137-166

This matter is connected with so many other remarkable questions, that I should have to write a comprehensive work if I wished to exhaust it. I will confine myself, then, to explaining clearly and fully my own little stock of knowledge on the subject acquired among the...

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pp. 167-189

IT was four o'clock on a lovely September morning, when one of the elegant steamers which now traverse Lake Superior by the side of the Indian canoes and the old brown "Mackinac barks," put us ashore on the sandy beach of the great peninsula of...

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pp. 190-209

CATHOLIC missionaries made their appearance in the country round Lake Superior some two .hundred years ago. The Bible stories and Christian legends rather pleased the savages, and excited their fancy. Had the missionaries remained permanently among them, the...

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pp. 210-226

Many European authors have offered the opinion that the Indians did this because to the far west are found the splendid flower-enamelled prairies, the wide hunting-grounds, on which the buffalo herds roam, and where there is an Elysian abundance of game and...

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pp. 227-242

WE paid a visit in our canoe to the Protestant mission, lying four miles off, on the other side of the Anse. As this village was much older, and was powerfully supported by the government of the United States, we found everything here on a better footing. The Indians had pretty, roomy houses, slept in...

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pp. 243-265

OUR historians have reported to us what effect was produced on the inhabitants of Europe when Columbus displayed the first red men among them, and took some with him through the Spanish provinces and towns on his triumphant procession from Seville to...

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pp. 266-284

THE Indians are generally supposed to be improvident beings, who have no thought for the morrow, and this is in many respects true, although it is only a further proof that there is no rule without its exception. Many Indians, I am told, are models of...

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pp. 285-297

I HAD read that the Indians not only possessed certain hieroglyphics for things and ideas, but that they also had music notes to mark the modifications of tune in their songs. Mr. Schoolcraft, in his large and valuable work on the Indians, gives several specimens

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pp. 298-313

AT length the day arrived when we were compelled to take leave of the Anse and its remarkable inhabitants. It seemed to me as if I left so many fields there unexamined, so much treasure not raised, and I saw our little canoe push off from the shore with unfeigned...

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pp. 314-331

MY excellent companion pitched his hut at Riviere au Desert, near his little church, which lies a short distance from the village. Then he busied himself with repairing the house of God and arranging the affairs of his parish. In the tent we had our fire,...

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pp. 332-354

THE dense population of European countries soon walks and shovels footpaths through the winter snow from village to village and from house to house. The scattered elements of population here are unable to do this, and hence they require an instrument which will...

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pp. 355-366

IT is pretty generally accepted and allowed that the Indian North American tribes are not anthropopbagists, and have never been so. Still, as I have just mentioned, owing to their barbarous war habits and wild thirst for revenge, they will sometimes sin by...

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pp. 367-384

" Au I" old Aurora, I ... a. Rose's mother, said to me, with a sigh, this morning, when I called once again to listen to her stories-" ah !" she said, " my head has grown quite weak lately. I have lost my memory. The Ojibbeways have all lost their memory. The Americans have made them weak. Our people do...

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pp. 385-404

As I was continually asking at our little mission about pictorial writing, the Indians at length told me they had a man among them of the name of Ojibiwas, who was very clever in drawing and writing. He could make me as many books as I might wish to...

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pp. 405-428

THE bears, it appears, perform certain wanderings, regulated by the season, from north to south, or from the forest-clad districts to the more open parts. In spring and summer, so I was told, they migrate to the south, where a richer harvest of fruit and grain awaits...


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pp. 431-467


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pp. 469-477

E-ISBN-13: 9780873516761
E-ISBN-10: 0873516761
Print-ISBN-13: 9780873511728
Print-ISBN-10: 0873511727

Page Count: 519
Illustrations: illus.
Publication Year: 1985

Edition: 1