Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes, and it also has many interesting books. In this series, we are sharing some of the books we like from Minnesota, or Minnesota authors.
We are mapping our literary journey around Minnesota, so you can see all the interesting places where our books are set. Follow our progress on our Google Map, accessible by clicking that link or searching for the title CMLE Reads Across Minnesota!
This is a guest post from CMLE member Violet Fox. Want to write a book review for us? Let us know!
As a relative newcomer to Minnesota I’ve been making a concerted effort to learn more about this state, especially the unique cultures that have shaped the state’s history. Onigamiising: Seasons of an Ojibwe Year, is an enjoyable read focusing on the experiences of author Linda LeGarde Grover, member of the Bois Forte Band of Ojibwe and professor of American Indian studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth. In this book of essays Grover shares stories from her life, finding beauty in everyday life and illustrating her strong spirituality and love for the people in her community.
Onigamiising (pronounced, approximately, AH-nih-gum-AY-sing) is the Ojibwe word for Duluth, meaning “the place of the small portage.” In Grover’s reflections there is a sense of loss of the traditional ways of living that the Ojibwe practiced for hundreds of years in the area before colonization. Grover’s background as an educator gives even further weight to the grief that she shares when discussing the disastrous effects of the boarding schools, where American Indian children were sent by the federal government to attend subpar schools and intentionally be separated from their families and their cultural heritage. But this heartbreak is deftly balanced by an expansive gratitude for the natural world and especially the long-held spiritual and cultural values that are shared by the Ojibwe people.
From the publisher’s description: “In fifty short essays, Grover reflects on the spiritual beliefs and everyday practices that carry the Ojibwe through the year and connect them to this northern land of rugged splendor. As the four seasons unfold—from Ziigwan (Spring) through Niibin and Dagwaagin to the silent, snowy promise of Biboon—the award-winning author writes eloquently of the landscape and the weather, work and play, ceremony and tradition and family ways, from the homey moments shared over meals to the celebrations that mark life’s great events. Now a grandmother, a Nokomis, beginning the fourth season of her life, Grover draws on a wealth of stories and knowledge accumulated over the years to evoke the Ojibwe experience of Onigamiising, past and present, for all time.”
Many of these essays have been previously published in various places. I found the book best enjoyed by reading just one or two essays at a time, with time to reflect on the lessons in each story. Check out one of Grover’s essays online, “Passing on the Ojibwe language,” and then pick up Onigamiising: Seasons of an Ojibwe Year to savor the wisdom and lyricism of her stories.