Spirit of the Ojibwe: Images of Lac Courte Oreilles Elders
by Sara Balbin, James. R. Bailey, Thelma Nayquonabe Holy Cow Press | 280 pp | $28.50 usd/$32.50 can
Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Entertainment. Discussion »
Elders are revered within American Indian communities.
This sentiment comes through in "Spirit of the Ojibwe: Images of Lac Courte Oreilles Elders," an amazing book that was released earlier this month by Holy Cow Press.
Louis Barber, 1902-1995, who was called Louie, a Featured Ojibwe Elder
"Spirit of the Ojibwe" features short biographies of 32 elders of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe, based in Hayward, Wisconsin.
Collectively, Ojibwe people make up the third group of American Indians, behind the Navajo and Cherokee. This book will surely make the Ojibwe proud for it captures their history and culture through the portrayal of the 32 elders.
The short narratives are accompanied by oil portraits of the each of the elders that were painted by artist Sara Balbin over several years called "Hall of Elders."
The paintings capture the essence of Ojibwe life.
Award-winning author Louise Erdrich, who is a tribal citizen of the Turtle Mountain Ojibwe Tribe, comments on the book's paintings:
"These extraordinary portraits of Ojibwe elders convey the warmth, the kindness, the humor, and the ongoing endurance of our people. What a thoughtful celebration."
Beyond the narratives and portraits of the 32 elders, "Spirit of the Ojibwe" contains many historic photographs, a short tribal history, statements by tribal leaders and even a glossary.
This book will captivate those interested in American Indians, and especially the Ojibwe.
True to the title of the book, there is a lot of spirit - spirit of love; spirit of honor; spirit of perseverance, and spirit of respect - throughout the entire book regarding the Ojibwe elders.
History and time were not necessarily easy on the elders portrayed in the book. Several of them survived hardships associated with being forced into Indian boarding schools and from the racial prejudice they had to endure simply because they were Indians. Many of the elders lived through the Great Depression's difficult financial times.
Yet, through it all they were able to hold onto the Ojibwe culture, and some, even the Ojibwe language. So, the book is, in a sense, a book of triumph for the 32 elders featured in "Spirit of the Ojibwe."
American Indian elders have a lot to teach younger generations. One of the elders featured in the book is Louis Barber, 1902-1995, who was called Louie. He was a father to five children, one of whom, named gaiashikibos, became tribal chairman of the tribe and served as president of the National Congress of American Indians for two terms.
Gaiashikibos recounts an incident that happened to him in adulthood when his father still taught him about life. He writes in the book's tribal leaders section:
"My father once told me that the old people had predicted the technological advances that he witnessed in his lifetime. I recall making maple syrup with him one spring. I was very busy, but had found time to get out into the woods. I hung up my cell phone in the wiigiwaam, and it was not long before someone called. The expression on my dadâ€™' face was amazement; it represented a leap from the old to the new way. I never brought the phone into the sugar camp again. It did something. It jarred the grace of the moment, the beauty of Mother Nature abundantly providing her gifts."
The reader will find "Spirit of the Ojibwe" is a work of love and a book to be savored - just in time for summer reading. It is a book you will want to tote along with you to the park, the beach anywhere to enjoy the beauty of Mother Nature's abundant gifts.
posted July 21, 2012 10:40 am edt