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A Face in the Rock: The Tale of a Grand Island Chippewa
Synopses & Reviews
Eight miles long and four miles wide, Grand Island lies off the south shore of Lake Superior. It was once home to a sizable community of Chippewa Indians who lived in harmony with the land and with each other. Their tragic demise began early in the nineteenth century when their fellow tribesmen from the mainland goaded them into waging war against rival Sioux. The war party was decimated; only one young brave, Powers of the Air, lived to tell the story that celebrated the heroism of his band and formed the basis of the legend that survives today. Distinguished historian Loren R. Graham has spent more than forty years researching and reconstructing the poignant tale of Powers of the Air and his people. A Face in the Rock is an artful melding of human history and natural history; it is a fascinating narrative of the intimate relation between place and people.
Powers of the Air lived to witness the desecration of Grand Island by the fur and logging industries, the Christianization of the tribe, and the near total loss of the Chippewa language, history, and culture. Graham charts the plight of the Chippewa as white culture steadily encroaches, forcing the native people off the island and dispersing their community on the mainland. The story ends with happier events of the past two decades, including the protection of Grand Island within the National Forest system, and the resurgence of Chippewa culture.
Off the south shore of Lake Superior lies an island eight miles long and four miles wide, shaped like the palm of a hand. Known as Grand Island, it was once home to a sizeable community of Chippewa Indians who lived in harmony with the land and with each other. The tragic demise of the Grand Island Chippewa began more than two hundred years ago when their fellow tribesmen from the mainland goaded the peaceful islanders into joining them in a senseless battle with their rival the Sioux. The Chippewa heroes are personified by Powers of the Air, a young brave who was the sole survivor of that fateful battle. He related this event and other Chippewa legends to Henry Schoolcraft, an early ethnographer of Native Americans. Powers of the Air witnessed the desecration of Grand Island by the fur and logging industries, the Christianization of the tribe, and the near total loss of the Chippewa language, history, and culture. The story ends with happier events of the past two decades, including the protection of Grand Island within the National Forest System, and the resurgence of Chippewa culture. In A Face in the Rock, distinguished historian Loren R. Graham tells the fascinating story of the Grand Island Chippewa, and in so doing, presents a morality play about the plight of populations destroyed by the violence of other cultures.
The Harvard historian of science Loren R. Graham has written a richly entertaining story of the Grand Island Chippewa Indians, one combining extensive oral histories, original documents and his own well-informed musings to fill in the gaps.... Mr. Graham has a firm grasp of narrative storytelling and a deep understanding of the customs and mythology of this tribe." -The New York Times Book Revie.
"Loren Graham's steady vision and painstaking research result in a fascinating and poignant story. A Face in the Rock is very true, very touching." -Louise Erdrich, author of The Blue Jay's Dance and The Bingo Palace
Includes bibliographical references (p. -148) and index.
About the Author
Loren Graham is a historian of science who holds a joint appointment in the Department of the History of Science at Harvard University and the Science, Technology, and Society Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is author of numerous books, including The Ghost of the Executed Engineer, which was chosen one of the New York Times "Notable Books of the Year" in 1993.
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