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A Little History of My Forest Life: An Indian-White Autobiography
     

A Little History of My Forest Life: An Indian-White Autobiography

by Eliza Morrison
 
A Unique and Historic Narrative: Written in 1894 and recently recovered from the archives of the University of Minnesota, this autobiography tells the story of a Chippewa-Scots-French woman from Madeline Island in Lake Superior. Eliza Morrison describes her family's starving time on their homestead, and her travels by boat, dog sled, and on foot. Metis culture

Overview

A Unique and Historic Narrative: Written in 1894 and recently recovered from the archives of the University of Minnesota, this autobiography tells the story of a Chippewa-Scots-French woman from Madeline Island in Lake Superior. Eliza Morrison describes her family's starving time on their homestead, and her travels by boat, dog sled, and on foot. Metis culture comes alive with the Wisconsin Death march, the Dream Dance, Indian marriage and burial customs, making maple sugar, and the Chippewa-Dakota War. Morrison relates two never-before-recorded Native stories, complete with songs.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“This is an utterly absorbing book, a compelling read. . . . What a lucky find!” —Thunder-Bay Chronicle Journal

“For anyone interested in Great Lakes history, in the scantly recorded experiences of frontier women, or in the shadowed world of the Metis, this book is not to be missed.” —Traverse City Record Eagle

“A great contribution to understanding the forgotten Metis of the Great Lakes . . . this literary gem brings a richness to the Metissage chronicles that illustrate how mixed-blood people formed a culture apart from both Indians and whites.” —Choice

Record Eagle
For anyone interested in Great Lakes history, in the scantly recorded experiences of frontier women, or in the shadowed world of the Metis, this book is not to be missed.
Kliatt Magazine
A fortuitous find led to more than three years of careful scholarly work. . . . There is historical context, a chronology, lists of names and places, a glossary that Native American readers endeavoring to reclaim language will find especially interesting, maps, and b/w pictures drawn from a wide range of sources. Boxes recap the fur trade, treaties, the Wisconsin death march, the Chippewa-Dakota war, letters, and cultural matters such as mat making, sign language, the drum dance, totems, and spoken language. For general readers and collections that deal with Native Americans, their history, and their stories."A fortuitous find led to more than three years of careful scholarly work. . . . There is historical context, a chronology, lists of names and places, a glossary that Native American readers endeavoring to reclaim language will find especially interesting, maps, and b/w pictures drawn from a wide range of sources. Boxes recap the fur trade, treaties, the Wisconsin death march, the Chippewa-Dakota war, letters, and cultural matters such as mat making, sign language, the drum dance, totems, and spoken language. For general readers and collections that deal with Native Americans, their history, and their stories.
Choice
A great contribution to understanding the forgotten Metis of the Great Lakes . . . this literary gem brings a richness to the Metissage chronicles that illustrate how mixed-blood people formed a culture apart from both Indians and whites.
Thunder Bay Chronicle Journal
This is an utterly absorbing book, a compelling read. . . . What a lucky find!
Publishers Weekly
Born in Wisconsin in the mid-19th century to a mixed-race family of Chippewa, Scots and French, Eliza Morrison wrote her autobiography in a series of letters sent to her former employers in the Midwest. A Little History of My Forest Life: An Indian-White Autobiography, publishing them for the first time, giving a vivid, sometimes witty account of life in the mixed race ("m tis") communities in the Great Lakes region. Morrison is the descendant of a long line of fur trading, French or Scottish men who took Chippewa wives and lived either among whites or other m tis families in typically bilingual settlements. Edited and introduced by scholar Victoria Brehm, the book includes accounts of the Wisconsin Death March and the Chippewa-Dakota War. (Apr.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
KLIATT
Editor Victoria Brehm happened upon the manuscript of this autobiography by Eliza Morrison (1837-1921) while researching an anthology of Great Lakes American Indian literature. The original, housed at the University of Minnesota, "had been written as a series of letters to Catherine Gray, the grandmother of William Gray Purcell, a Prairie School architect in the Twin Cities." Mrs. Gray had employed Morrison when the Grays, residents of Oak Park, Illinois, spent summers at Iron Lake near the Apostles. The rough, mostly English-language manuscript was filed as Morrison had written it, though the University of Minnesota had published a portion, editing the language lightly (sentences went on for pages). This fortuitous find led to more than three years of careful scholarly work during which Brehm had to deal with passages written in the difficult Chippewa/Ojibwe language. In shaping the published version, she had to please both general readers who want to know Morrison's story and scholars who may want to know her exact words. Brehm retained as much as possible of Morrison's style of writing, including syntax and spelling. She didn't force the text into a rigid scholar's style. For purists, she gives the address at which the original is available. Morrison, of mixed race called métis, lived in northern Wisconsin on Madeline Island, one of the Apostles Islands, and wrote in 1894. In her autobiography, she tells of her life at a time of great change. She is a keen observer and a good storyteller, and she has a fine sense of what a reader would want to know about her personal life and what it was like to live in a quite primitive setting in a land of harsh winters. The autobiography itselftakes up only about half of this book. Brehm, with great care, wrote the interpretive material that constitutes the remainder and which makes this an especially valuable volume. There is historical context, a chronology, lists of names and places, a glossary that Native American readers endeavoring to reclaim language will find especially interesting, maps, and b/w pictures drawn from a wide range of sources. Boxes recap the fur trade, treaties, the Wisconsin death march, the Chippewa-Dakota war, letters, and cultural matters such as mat making, sign language, the drum dance, totems, and spoken language. For general readers and collections that deal with Native Americans, their history, and their stories. Category: Biography & Personal Narrative. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2002, Ladyslipper Press, 208p. maps. illus. bibliog. index., Boardman; Bismark, ND

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780970260628
Publisher:
Ladyslipper Press, Inc.
Publication date:
01/28/2002
Edition description:
1ST
Pages:
200
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.53(d)

Meet the Author


Eliza Morrison lived on Madeline Island in Lake Superior in the late 1800s.

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