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Ojibwe Tales and Oral Histories
A language carries a people's memories, whether they are recounted as individual reminiscences, as communal history, or as humorous tales. This collection of stories from Anishinaabe elders offers a history of a people at the same time that it seeks to preserve the language of that people.As fluent speakers of Ojibwe grow older, the community questions whether younger speakers know the language well enough to pass it on to the next generation. Young and old alike are making widespread efforts to preserve the Ojibwe language, and, as part of this campaign, Anton Treuer has collected stories from Anishinaabe elders living at Leech Lake, White Earth, Mille Lacs, Red Lake, and St. Croix reservations. Based on interviews Treuer conducted with ten elders--Archie Mosay, Jim Clark, Melvin Eagle, Joe Auginaush, Collins Oakgrove, Emma Fisher, Scott Headbird, Susan Jackson, Hartley White, and Porky White--this anthology presents the elders' stories transcribed in Ojibwe with English translation on facing pages. These stories contain a wealth of information, including oral histories of the Anishinaabe people and personal reminiscences, educational tales, and humorous anecdotes. Treuer's translations of these stories preserve the speakers' personalities, allowing their voices to emerge from the page. Treuer introduces each speaker, offering a brief biography and noting important details concerning dialect or themes; he then allows the stories to speak for themselves. This dual-language text will prove instructive for those interested in Ojibwe language and culture, while the stories themselves offer the gift of a living language and the history of a people.
American POWs During World War II
Between 1941 and 1945 more than 110,000 American marines, soldiers, airmen, and sailors were taken prisoner by German, Italian, and Japanese forces. Most who fought overseas during World War II weren’t prepared for capture, or for the life-altering experiences of incarceration, torture, and camaraderie bred of hardship that followed. Their harrowing story—often overlooked in Greatest Generation narratives—is told here by the POWs themselves.Long hours of inactivity followed by moments of sheer terror. Slave labor, death marches, the infamous hell ships. Historian Thomas Saylor pieces together the stories of nearly one hundred World War II POWs to explore what it was like to be the “guest” of the Axis Powers and to reveal how these men managed to survive. Gunner Bob Michelsen bailed out of his wounded B-29 near Tokyo, only to endure days of interrogation and beatings and months as a “special prisoner” in a tiny cell home to seventeen other Americans. Medic Richard Ritchie spent long moments of terror locked with dozens of others in an unmarked boxcar that was repeatedly strafed by Allied forces. In the closing chapter to this moving narrative, the men speak of their difficult transition to life back home, where many sought—not always successfully—to put their experience behind them.
A Search for Redemption in the Face of History
In June 1920, in Duluth, Minnesota, a mob of over 10,000 convened upon the police station, inflamed by the rumor that black circus workers had raped a white teenage girl—charges that would later be proven false. Three men were dragged from their cells and lynched in front of the cheering crowd. More than eighty years later, Warren Read—a fourth-grade teacher, devoted partner, and father to three boys—plugged his mother’s maiden name into a computer search engine, then clicked on a link to a newspaper article that would forever alter his understanding of himself. Louis Dondino, his beloved great-grandfather, had incited the deadly riot on that dark summer night decades before. In his poignant memoir, Read explores the perspectives of both the victims and the perpetrators of this heinous crime. He investigates the impact—the denial and anger—that the long-held secrets had on his family. Through this examination of the generations affected by one horrific night, he discovers we must each take responsibility for “our deep-seated fears that lead us to emotional, social, or physical violence.”
On the evening of June 15, 1920, in Duluth, Minnesota, three young black men, accused of the rape of a white woman, were pulled from their jail cells and lynched by a mob numbering in the thousands.Up to a tenth of the city's residents clogged the street in front of the police station to witness the hanging. Reporters from the two major newspapers of Minneapolis and St. Paul shocked their readers with lurid accounts of the event. Leading newspapers throughout the North vilified Duluthians for having stained their city's good name and castigated them for being no better than southern racists. The governor of Minnesota, J. A. A. Burnquist, then president of the St. Paul chapter of the NAACP, commissioned his adjutant general to launch a formal investigation. Three dozen men were indicted for taking part in the mob action. And one year later, in reaction to the event, the state legislature enacted an anti-lynching law. Yet, today, the incident is nearly forgotten.During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the lynching of blacks was typically a rural, southern phenomenon. This account of the lynchings that took place in Duluth shows that the mentality necessary for such events was not particular to any region.Praise for The Lynchings in Duluth:"A chilling reconstruction of a 1920 racial tragedy. . . . Combining hour-by-hour, day-by-day narrative with expert scholarship based on interviews, suppressed documents and news reports, Fedo skillfully portrays Northern prejudice and violence. Without preaching or condemning, he makes readers firsthand witnesses to fear and injustice.”—Los Angeles Times"This tense book punches out a story of devastating fury. . . . Fedo has put his sharpest reportorial skills to work in resurrecting a little known racial atrocity. . . . As pointed as a Klansman's cap, this book conveys the horror of mob action--and the disturbing truth that it knows no region.”—Milwaukee Journal"The story of the events leading up to the lynching and the various stages in the action of the mob are vividly related in this superb work. Fedo presents in masterful prose--based on excellent research--a difinitive account of the Duluth lynchings. His graphic description of the mob and the context in which it operated provides evidence of the manner in which given the proper set of circumstances mass violence can occur anywhere and anytime.”—The Ann Arbor News
Husbands, Wives, and the American State in Dakota and Ojibwe Country
The debate over the meaning of marriage in the United States and specifically in Minnesota is not a recent development. From 1820 to 1845, when the first significant numbers of Americans arrived in the region now called Minnesota, they carried the belief that good government and an orderly household went hand in hand. The territorial, state, and federal governments of the United States were built upon a particular vision of civic responsibility: that men, as heads of households, enter civic life on behalf of their dependents—wives, children, servants, and slaves. These dependents were deemed unfit to make personal decisions or to involve themselves in business and government—and they owed labor and obedience to their husbands, fathers, and masters. These ideas clashed forcibly with the conceptions of kinship and social order that existed among the Upper Midwest's long-established Dakota, Ojibwe, and mixed-heritage communities. In resisting the new gender and familial roles advocated by military personnel, Indian agents, and missionaries, the region’s inhabitants frustrated American attempts to transform Indian country into a state. Indeed, many Americans were forced to compromise their own beliefs so that they could put down roots. Through the stories of married—and divorcing—men and women in the region, Catherine J. Denial traces the uneven fortunes of American expansion in the early nineteenth century and the nation-shaping power of marital acts.
The Growth of an American City
Today, Minneapolis is considered one of the most desirable places to live in the United States. However, like most cities, Minneapolis has its own checkered history.Iric Nathanson shines a light in dark corners of the city's past, exploring corruption that existed between the police department and city hall, brutal suppression of Depression-era unions, and reports on anti-Semitism at midcentury. Still other subjects that on the surface seem disparaging offer the city's residents as opportunity to shine. Community leaders make a difference during the "long hot summer" of 1967, when racial violence exploded across the country. Concerned neighbors guide transportation policy from more and bigger highways to forward-looking light rail transit. A forgotten riverfront is transformed into a magnet for people wishing to live and play at the site of the city's earliest successes.Nathanson skillfully tells these stories and more, always with an eye toward how noteworthy characters, plotlines, and scenes helped create the Minneapolis we know today.
The Land of the Dakota
Much of the focus on the Dakota people in Minnesota rests on the tragic events of the 1862 U.S.–Dakota War and the resulting exile that sent the majority of the Dakota to prisons and reservations beyond the state’s boundaries. But the true depth of the devastation of removal cannot be understood without a closer examination of the history of the Dakota people and their deep cultural connection to the land that is Minnesota. Drawing on oral history interviews, archival work, and painstaking comparisons of Dakota, French, and English sources, Mni Sota Makoce tells the detailed history of the Dakota people in their traditional homelands for at least hundreds of years prior to exile. “Minnesota” is derived from the Dakota phrase Mni Sota Makoce, Land Where the Waters Reflect the Clouds—and the people’s roots here remain strong. Authors Gwen Westerman and Bruce White examine narratives of the people’s origins, their associations with the land, and the seasonal round through key players and place names. They consider Dakota interactions with Europeans and offer an in-depth “reading between the lines” of historical documents—some of them virtually unknown—and treaties made with the United States, uncovering misunderstandings and outright deceptions that helped lead to war in 1862. Dakota history did not begin with the U.S.– Dakota War of 1862—nor did it end there. Mni Sota Makoce is, more than anything, a celebration of the Dakota people through their undisputed connection to this place, Minnesota, in the past, present, and future.
Ojibwe Family Life and Labor on the Reservation, 1900-1940
When Ojibwe historian Brenda Child uncovered the Bureau of Indian Affairs file on her grandparents, it was an eye-opening experience. The correspondence, full of incendiary comments on their morals and character, demonstrated the breathtakingly intrusive power of federal agents in the early twentieth century. While telling her own family’s stories from the Red Lake Reservation, as well as stories of Ojibwe people around the Great Lakes, Child examines the disruptions and the continuities in daily work, family life, and culture faced by Ojibwe people of Child’s grandparents’ generation—a generation raised with traditional lifeways in that remote area. The challenges were great: there were few opportunities for work. Government employees and programs controlled reservation economies and opposed traditional practices. Nevertheless, Ojibwe men and women—fully modern workers who carried with them rich traditions of culture and work—patched together sources of income and took on new roles as labor demands changed through World War I and the Depression. Child writes of men knocking rice at wild rice camps, work customarily done by women; a woman who turns to fishing and bootlegging when her husband is unable to work; and women who carry out traditional healing ceremonies. All of them, faced with dispossession and pressure to adopt new ways, managed to retain and pass on their Ojibwe identity and culture to their children.
“. . . the memory of my mother came to me like a drifting scent in the breeze, swirling through the branches of a nearby cedar tree. I was drawn back [35 years] to the day I learned she had passed on. But that autumn day of 1973 did not grip me with deep sadness, the burden of never seeing her again. I was looking at that day from a new angle, a distant view that seemed to suggest a new, untold story. I was suddenly more than curious about who my mother truly was in this life and beyond.” Uprooted from family and community in Milwaukee by her husband, a French and Irish construction worker with a drinking problem, Corrine Rolo struggles to raise their seven children on a remote farm near Big Falls, Minnesota. She longs to move back to Milwaukee, or to visit her relatives on the Bad River Ojibwe reservation, at one point threatening to leave the older kids behind and return to her home in the city. Mark Anthony Rolo sifts through potent dreams and childhood memories to recreate a picture of his often conflicted mother during the last three years of her life. She told him a few warm stories of her life on the reservation, but she participated in the family’s casually derogatory banter about their Ojibwe heritage. She spent little time helping Rolo with his schoolwork, even as she wrote voluminous, detailed letters to her family in Milwaukee. She could treat her children harshly and yet also display the fiercest love. With an innocent and sometimes brutal child’s view, Rolo recounts stories of a woman who battles poverty, depression, her abusive husband, and isolation through the long northern Minnesota winters, and of himself, her son, who struggles at school, wrestles with his Ojibwe identity, and copes with violence. But he also shows, with eloquence and compassion, his adult understanding of his mother’s fight to live with dignity, not despair.
An Ojibway Narrative
With the art of a practiced storyteller, Ignatia Broker recounts the life of her great-great-grandmother, Night Flying Woman, who was born in the mid-19th century and lived during a chaotic time of enormous change, uprootings, and loss for the Minnesota Ojibway. But this story also tells of her people's great strength and continuity.Praise for Night Flying Woman“One of my favorite books.”—Louise Erdrich“This remarkable book deserves to be read aloud for generations to come.”—Minneapolis Star tribune“A book everyone should read. It lights a fire of warmth within me.”—Marge Dalve, White Earth Band Ojibway“This beautiful book is a blessing, a gift, an antidote for all the poisonous lies about our past that we have had to endure. It is full of courage and love. This is how it really was.”—Beverly Slapin and Doris Seale, Books Without Bias: Through Indian Eyes“Ignatia Brloker writes with the beauty of Ojibway female oral style…a poignant tale.”—Choice