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Centering Anishinaabeg Studies

Understanding the World through Stories

Jill Doerfler

Publication Year: 2013

For the Anishinaabeg people, who span a vast geographic region from the Great Lakes to the Plains and beyond, stories are vessels of knowledge. They are bagijiganan, offerings of the possibilities within Anishinaabeg life. Existing along a broad narrative spectrum, from aadizookaanag (traditional or sacred narratives) to dibaajimowinan (histories and news)—as well as everything in between—storytelling is one of the central practices and methods of individual and community existence. Stories create and understand, survive and endure, revitalize and persist. They honor the past, recognize the present, and provide visions of the future. In remembering, (re)making, and (re)writing stories, Anishinaabeg storytellers have forged a well-traveled path of agency, resistance, and resurgence. Respecting this tradition, this groundbreaking anthology features twenty-four contributors who utilize creative and critical approaches to propose that this people’s stories carry dynamic answers to questions posed within Anishinaabeg communities, nations, and the world at large. Examining a range of stories and storytellers across time and space, each contributor explores how narratives form a cultural, political, and historical foundation for Anishinaabeg Studies. Written by Anishinaabeg and non-Anishinaabeg scholars, storytellers, and activists, these essays draw upon the power of cultural expression to illustrate active and ongoing senses of Anishinaabeg life. They are new and dynamic bagijiganan, revealing a viable and sustainable center for Anishinaabeg Studies, what it has been, what it is, what it can be.

Published by: Michigan State University Press

Title Page and Copyright

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pp. iii-iv


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pp. v-vii

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Maajitaadaa: Nanaboozhoo and the Flood, Part 2

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pp. ix-xiv

Mewinzha Nanaboozhoo bimose noopiming.1 This is how he got there. As usual he was very hungry. He also had a deadline, another writing assignment, but it was hard for him to concentrate. Hunger usually won out over work, and hunger was winning again. He wasn’t making much progress on his ...

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Bagijige: Making an Offering

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pp. xv-xxvii

In Anishinaabe tradition, an offering is a gift. It’s a gesture of relationship between people, animals, spirits, and other entities in the universe, given in the interests of creating ties, honoring them, or asking for assistance and direction. Offerings are acts of responsibility. Making one includes acknowledging ...

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Eko-bezhig Bagijigan: Stories as Roots

Anishinaabeg stories are roots; they are both the origins and the imaginings of what it means to be a participant in an ever-changing and vibrant culture in humanity. In the same vein, stories can serve as a foundation and framework for the field of Anishinaabeg Studies, providing both a ...

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Is That All There Is? Tribal Literature

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pp. 3-12

In the early sixties, Kahn-Tineta Horn, a young Mohawk model, got the attention of the Canadian press (media), not only because of her beauty, but because of her articulation of Indian grievances and her demands for justice. Soon after, Red Power was organized, threatening to use ...

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Name’: Literary Ancestry as Presence

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pp. 13-34

In joining this conversation centering Anishinaabeg Studies, I want to position my comments to be understood as a writerly response—the response of an Anishinaabe poet-critic. I assert that when we read, we read from where we are and from who we are. If we are from Anishinaabe people ...

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Beshaabiiag G’gikenmaaigowag: Comets of Knowledge

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pp. 35-57

At the Sanilac Petroglyphs Site, in what is now Michigan, a figure with a bow and arrow is carved into a stone. It is an image at least three centuries old. According to Anishinaabe teachers, the arrow is not aimed at prey, but is instead a metaphor representing the transfer of information. In its ...

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Eko-niizh Bagijigan: Stories as Relationships

Anishinaabeg stories are embedded in relationships and relationship-making practices—they institute them, explain them, and/ or define them. Many see stories as the living strands (indeed, even living beings themselves) that constitute the relationships Anishinaabeg hold between themselves ...

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The Story Is a Living Being: Companionship with Stories in Anishinaabeg Studies

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pp. 61-79

The current volume invites readers to consider whether the emerging field of Anishinaabeg Studies can center itself on stories, and what kinds of questions a field so positioned might undertake. An invigorating invitation, it raises complex issues. Scholars have contributed a considerable ...

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K’zaugin: Storying Ourselves into Life

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pp. 81-102

In June 2010, the first of seven national events for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)1 was held in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.2 Held to honor the experiences of Indian Residential School (IRS)3 survivors and disseminate information to the public about ...

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Teaching as Story

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pp. 103-115

Oral stories are among humankind’s oldest way of teaching, helping traditional societies make sense of things, giving meaning to their experience, and explaining both the known and unknown. Today, stories are often used as both primary and supplemental instructional materials. Stories can give ...

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Eko-niswi Bagijigan: Stories as Revelations

Anishinaabeg stories reveal, illuminate, and make known the complexities of Anishinaabeg being—a crucial contribution to humanity. By placing stories at the center of the field, a dynamic and thought-provoking set of questions emerge and, along with these, potential new insights. Stories suggest ...

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Every Dream Is a Prophecy: Rethinking Revitalization — Dreams, Prophets, and Routinized Cultural Evolution

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pp. 119-132

The Anishinaabe worldview, through stories, ceremony, and tradition, emphasizes the importance of reciprocal social relationships that extend the notion of kin far beyond biological relatives, the need for gifts or blessings from manidoog (spirit-like beings outside of oneself ), the permeable line ...

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Constitutional Narratives: A Conversation with Gerald Vizenor -

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pp. 133-148

Gerald Vizenor once stated that “there isn’t any center to the world but a story.”1 His work denies origins and endings, celebrating unconventional flights of survivance and transmotion over the butterfly-case fixing of terminal identities. Strongly rooted in observation of White Earth and ...

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And the Easter Bunny Dies: Old Traditions from New Stories

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pp. 149-170

In Basil Johnston’s Ojibwa Heritage Weegwauss (Birch) has a dream so troubling that he seeks guidance from Chejauk (Crane) on its meaning.1 Chejauk listens and assures Weegwauss that he has had a good dream—a dream that tells the story of human life from beginning to end, through the four ...

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Eko-niiwin Bagijigan: Stories as Resiliency

Anishinaabeg stories are expressions of resiliency. In remembering, retelling, and remaking stories, Anishinaabeg storytellers enact paths to cultural and political agency and resistance. Centering Anishinaabeg Studies with stories uncovers a longstanding and active history of narrative continuance ...

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A Philosophy for Living: Ignatia Broker and Constitutional Reform among the White Earth Anishinaabeg

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pp. 173-189

Recently, many Native nations have begun the historic and challenging process of constitutional reform. As Anishinaabe scholar Duane Champaign writes: “If tribal communities want to assert greater control over their economic, political, and cultural lives, they will need more effective forms of ...

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A Perfect Copy: Indian Culture and Tribal Law

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pp. 191-212

Leech Lake Ojibwe novelist and literature critic David Treuer declared in his new book of literary criticism that “Native American fiction does not exist.”1 The New York Times described the book as “a kind of manifesto, which argues that Native American writing should be judged as literature, not ...

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The Hydromythology of the Anishinaabeg: Will Mishipizhu Survive Climate Change, or Is He Creating It?

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pp. 213-233

For Anishinaabeg people,1 our stories go back to the beginning of time with deep, endless roots. Yet our stories are also new and fresh each time they are told. To be Anishinaabe is to know that stories can be medicine and that they reveal fresh meanings for new times. This is a story about the power ...

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Eko-naanan Bagijigan: Stories as Resistance

Anishinaabeg stories are a form of resistance. As stories illustrate worldview and guide how we interact with our world, Anishinaabe stories resist narratives of domination and subjugation that subsume Indigenous communities by providing an alternate way of understanding the world and ...

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Wild Rice Rights: Gerald Vizenor and an Affiliation of Story

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pp. 237-257

The library where I write this is roughly 460 miles away from the reservation where I grew up—White Earth. My hometown in northern Minnesota today has a population of 1,161—down more than 250 people since I last lived there full-time. But for a weekend every fall, the three-block Main Street fills ...

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Transforming the Trickster: Federal Indian Law Encounters Anishinaabe Diplomacy

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pp. 259-278

King reminds us that stories have power. They are both wondrous and dangerous. Federal Indian law contains many of the creation stories of the nation-state. These stories have proven dangerous, having the power to (re)imagine the legal universe, (re)create the nation-state, and (re)structure ...

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Theorizing Resurgence from within Nishnaabeg Thought

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pp. 279-293

One of the most crucial tasks presently facing Indigenous nations is the continued creation of individuals and assemblages of people who can think in culturally inherent ways. By this, I mean ways that reflect the diversity of thought within our broader cosmologies, those very ancient ways that are ...

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Eko-ingodwaasi Bagijigan: Stories as Reclamation

Anishinaabeg stories claim our lives, assert presence, and ensure the continuation of our communities as active contributors to humanity and all of Creation. They honor the past, recognize the present, and provide visions for the future—all of which engage the struggle of being Anishinaabeg in an ...

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Aadizookewininiwag and the Visual Arts: Story as Process and Principle in Twenty-First Century Anishinaabeg Painting

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pp. 297-316

In his preface to Narrative Chance, Anishinaabe writer Gerald Vizenor asserts that “Native American stories are told and heard in motion, imagined and read over and over on a landscape that is never seen at once.”1 The natural imagery, ubiquitous in Vizenor’s writing, is literal— ...

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Stories as Mshkiki: Reflections on the Healing and Migratory Practices of Minwaajimo

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pp. 317-339

At the moment of inception, humans gained the ability to speak. As a parent, I still recall the moment when my daughters uttered their first words in reference to the world around them. Much like birth itself, speech emerged, from my daughters as well as within our Indigenous communities, as a ...

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Horizon Lines, Medicine Painting, and Moose Calling: The Visual/Performative Storytelling of Three Anishinaabeg Artists

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pp. 341-359

In her collection of narratives Portage Lake: Memories of an Ojibwe Childhood, Anishinaabe elder Maude Kegg relays a story entitled “Canoe.” Her student and editor John Nichols transcribes and translates “Canoe” as follows: I can barely remember long ...

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Eko-niizhwaasi Bagijigan: Stories as Reflections

Finally, stories reflect Anishinaabeg lives. They encourage Anishinaabeg to turn inward and devise visions that can live in the world, changing themselves, their communities, and the rest of Creation as a result. Stories provide the basis in which Anishinaabeg Studies is a tribally specific field ...

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Anishinaabeg Studies: Creative, Critical, Ethical, and Reflexive

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pp. 363-377

This essay explores the transformative potential of Anishinaabeg Studies as it takes root in North American educational institutions. The present anthology gathers together several interpretations of Anishinaabeg Studies that unite around their collective engagement with the concept of “story.” To better ...

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Telling All of Our Stories: Reorienting the Legal and Political Events of the Anishinaabeg

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pp. 379-396

In this essay I seek to establish that the scope of what constitutes the category of Anishinaabeg stories is—or at least could and/or should be—larger than what one might first imagine. It is important to consider the question that opens this essay, because Anishinaabeg, and others, will be better served by conceptualizing ...

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On the Road Home: Stories and Reflections from Neyaashiinigiming

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pp. 397-407

Anishinaabeg stories take me home. Stories are the center, the periphery, and the negative spaces within and beyond our circle of dreams. There is value in searching for a center in a field of studies, but the trickster doesn’t know boundaries. As we rest in our perceived centers, blindly ...

About the Authors

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pp. 409-417

E-ISBN-13: 9781609173531
E-ISBN-10: 1609173538
Print-ISBN-13: 9781611860672
Print-ISBN-10: 1611860679

Page Count: 446
Publication Year: 2013