Minnesota Historical Society

Living Our Language: Ojibwe Tales & Oral Histories

$ 22.95


Fifty-seven Ojibwe Indian tales collected from Anishinaabe elders, reproduced in Ojibwe and in English translation.

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.


  • Edited & translated by Anton Treuer
  • Format: 320 pp., 10 b&w photos, glossary, notes, paperback
  • Publisher: MHS Press
  • Product ##: 978-0873514040 

ANTON TREUER is a member of the Leech Lake band of Ojibwe and assistant professor of Ojibwe at Bemidji State University in Bemidji, Minnesota. He is editor of the only academic journal on the Ojibwe language, Oshkaabewis Native Journal, and author of Omaa Akiing, a collection of Ojibwe tales from Leech Lake elders.



Praise for Living Our Language:

"A rich and varied collection of tales from the Ojibwe (Chippewa) tradition . . . Drawn from printed and oral sources, the stories are meticulously and sensitively translated and annotated, giving shape, form, and nuance to a fragile, almost extinct, civilization. This preservation project will be a vital addition to Native American lore." -- Library Journal

 "A major contribution to Anishinaabe studies. Treuer's collection is particularly welcome as it brings in new voices to speak of the varied experiences of the Anishinaabeg of recent generations." -- John D. Nichols, F.R.S.C., co-editor of A Concise Dictionary of Minnesota Ojibwe

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