The Dance Boots


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 ...
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The Dance Boots

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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.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Simply mesmerizing."—Booklist

"Linda LeGarde Grover knows how to end a story—and manages to achieve both circularity and closure in each and every one. This is an impressive feat in and of itself, but for a collection of linked stories like The Dance Boots, which twist and tie and loop back on one another, the achievement is even more remarkable." —ForeWord Reviews

"A bright and determined vitality."—Publishers Weekly

"With stunning sentences and other stylistic elements reminiscent of Hemingway, Wolfe, Tan and others, this collection dazzles with its complex characters, rustic settings, and authentic situations."—Dark Sky magazine

"Grover neither sentimentalizes nor victimizes indigenous people but rather shows them as the complex humans they are."—Minnesota Reads

“Grover’s sense of character and setting in these stories is so immediate, so vital. She has put the Mozhay Point Indian Reservation on the literary map.”—Geary Hobson, author of The Last of the Ofos

"The powerful Ojibwe women in Linda LeGarde Grover’s Dance Boots tell stories in 'the rhythm and pattern of repeating and echoing, re-echoing and returning,' the pattern that keeps them strong. They need to be strong in the face of a terrible monster, one no less ferocious than those in Ojibwe traditional tales, one that steals children and returns them altered, alien, broken: the boarding schools. These are stories of survival as well, and as we follow the rhythm of her narrative we find ourselves joining the dance of a culture resurgent, a dance that returns lost children, that begins to heal a world."—Heid E. Erdrich, author of National Monuments

“In eight beautifully crafted Ojibwe stories, Grover’s characters, members of the LaForce family, learn to survive Indian boarding school, a brutal marriage, and even how to set pins in a bowling alley all the while taking care to remember the ancestors and the road home. Whether home is the mythic Mozhay Point Indian Reservation, a clapboard house, or a horse paradise of woods near Duluth, Minnesota, Grover’s The Dance Boots is an Ojibwe jingle dance that bounced me off the page, and back on again. A wonderful read!”—LeAnne Howe, author of Shell Shaker and Miko Kings: An Indian Baseball Story

Publishers Weekly
Winner of this year's Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction, Grover's stories work back in time to retrace the rupturing experience of Western schooling on the Ojibwe tribes in Minnesota during the early 20th century. In the title story, narrator Artense's beloved Aunt Shirley is dying of lung cancer as she recounts "the breaking of a culture through the education of its young." In addition to the history, Artense, the oldest child and the first high school graduate, is given Shirley's cherished dancing boots. The intergenerational key is grandma Maggie, who, in "Maggie and Louis," is educated at a mission school and meets her future husband while working as a teacher's assistant at the forbidding Harrod boarding school, which Indian children, taken from their reservations, are forced to attend. Later, in "Three Seasons," Maggie, now a worn-out mother and wife, leaves her drunken and abusive husband and takes her children to live with her alcoholic sister. Even in escape, Maggie has a harsh road ahead, and it's her generous spirit that permeates the stories of the later generations and lends this collection a bright and determined vitality. (Sept.)
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Linda LeGarde Grover is an associate professor of American Indian studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth. She is the coauthor of A Childhood in Minnesota: Exploring the Lives of Ojibwe and Immigrant Families 1880–1920 and the author of a poetry chapbook, The Indian at Indian School. Her manuscript The Road Back to Sweetgrass won the Native Writers Circle of the Americas First Book Award.

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Table of Contents

The Dance Boots
Three Seasons
Maggie and Louis, 1914
Refugees Living and Dying in the West End of Duluth
Shonnud's Girl
Ojibwe Boys
Four Indians in the Mirror
Bingo Night
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