Holding Our World Together: Ojibwe Women and the Survival of Community [NOOK Book]


A groundbreaking exploration of the remarkable women in Native American communities


In this well-researched and deeply felt account, Brenda J. Child, a professor and a member of the Red Lake Ojibwe tribe, gives Native American women their due, detailing the many ways in which they have shaped Native American life. She illuminates the lives of women such as ...
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Holding Our World Together: Ojibwe Women and the Survival of Community

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A groundbreaking exploration of the remarkable women in Native American communities


In this well-researched and deeply felt account, Brenda J. Child, a professor and a member of the Red Lake Ojibwe tribe, gives Native American women their due, detailing the many ways in which they have shaped Native American life. She illuminates the lives of women such as Madeleine Cadotte, who became a powerful mediator between her people and European fur traders, and Gertrude Buckanaga, whose postwar community activism in Minneapolis helped bring many Indian families out of poverty. Moving from the early days of trade with Europeans through the reservation era and beyond, Child offers a powerful tribute to the courageous women who sustained Native American communities through the darkest challenges of the past three centuries.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Dismissed by early American and European historians, Native American women have long taken a backseat to chiefs, warriors, and huntsmen. In this broad historical account, Child (Boarding School Seasons: American Indian Families: 1900–1940) sheds light on the role of women as linchpins of the Ojibwe world: forging kinship ties and strategic alliances; maintaining medicinal knowledge; organizing the seasonal harvests; participating in civil rights groups like the American Indian Movement; and bolstering community values as social activist leaders. From the strategic alliances of the fur-trading days to the forced “civilization” of the reservation era, Child follows the ups and downs of white relations with the tribes and shows how women held communities together as removal policies and land theft disrupted the harmonious seasonal round of berry picking, wild rice harvesting, and maple sugar collecting in the Great Lakes region. Instead of despairing at the racism and deprivation they faced, these resourceful women adapted to a new tourist and service economy while preserving the traditions and family bonds that enrich Ojibwe life. Though some documented anecdotes and myths could have used more room to breathe, the book offers a sensitive portrait of a resilient group and the struggles it has overcome. (Feb.)
Kimberly Blaeser
"Brenda Child's moving portrayal of the often unrecognized but pivotal roles Ojibwe women played in community survival is, in its determination to record truth, itself an act of leadership—of intellectual sovereignty."
John Borrows
"Not only does [Child] describe how and why Ojibwe women were essential to the survival of their culture and community, through her scholarship she demonstrates how this work is being accomplished today."
Jacqueline Peterson
"An important, pathbreaking book, not merely a powerful corrective to books that focus on Indian males, but also a powerful corrective to the scholarship on Indian women largely written by non-Indian women."
Kirkus Reviews
In a follow-up to her prize-winning study, Boarding School Seasons: American Indian Families: 1900-1940 (2000), Child (American Studies/Univ. of Minnesota) chronicles the "history of Ojibwe community life in the Great Lakes," with special emphasis on the role of women. As a member of the Red Lake Ojibwe Nation, the author has an intimate connection to her subject. Beginning in the 1830s, with the U.S. government's policy of forced relocation of Native Americans to reservations, Child chronicles the destruction of their way of life, which had been based on the cultivation of wild rice, traditionally woman's work, and hunting, which was done by men and boys. When the Ojibwe were forcibly removed from their homes and land in Michigan and Wisconsin to a reservation in the territory of Minnesota, their standard of living was reduced to bare subsistence. Forced to depend on food shipments and a meager annuity from the government, their population was decimated by starvation and disease. Remarkably, they preserved the core of their cultural beliefs, and traditional spiritual values survived despite the pressures and hardships of their new circumstances. The author writes of the unsuccessful but relentless drive of the institutions of the dominant American population to impose its core values, such as the inferior position of women in society and the replacement of traditional religious practices with Christianity. In some ways, the situation of the Ojibwe improved during the New Deal when the policy of forced assimilation ended. Poverty-relief programs run by New Deal agencies offered new employment opportunities, and the Ojibwe received funding to farm wild rice using modern methods. During World War II, Indian men were subject to the draft while women worked in defense plants. Today the vast majority live in cities while maintaining ties to the reservation and their traditional way of life. A fascinating account of a resilient culture that has survived despite oppression.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781101560259
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 2/16/2012
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 737,367
  • File size: 853 KB

Meet the Author

Brenda J. Child is an associate professor of American studies at the University of Minnesota and the author of Boarding School Seasons: American Indian Families: 1900–1940. She lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

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