Synopses & Reviews
A groundbreaking exploration of the remarkable women in Native American communities.
Too often ignored or underemphasized in favor of their male warrior counterparts, Native American women have played a more central role in guiding their nations than has ever been understood. Many Native communities were, in fact, organized around women's labor, the sanctity of mothers, and the wisdom of female elders. In this well-researched and deeply felt account of the Ojibwe of Lake Superior and the Mississippi River, Brenda J. Child details the ways in which women have shaped Native American life from the days of early trade with Europeans through the reservation era and beyond.
The latest volume in the Penguin Library of American Indian History, Holding Our World Together 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. Drawing on these stories and others, Child offers a powerful tribute to the many courageous women who sustained Native communities through the darkest challenges of the last three centuries.
"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." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"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." Kimberly Blaeser, author of Apprenticed to Justice
"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."
Jacqueline Peterson, Washington State University-Vancouver
"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." John Borrows, University of Minnesota
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.
About the Author
Brenda J. Child, a member of the Red Lake Ojibwe Nation, 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 is also on the advisory board for the Penguin Library of American Indian History.