The Island of the Anishnaabeg


The Island of the Anishnaabeg

Thunderers and Water Monsters in the Traditional Ojibwe Life-World

Theresa S. Smith

248 pages
16 illustrations, 3 appendixes


July 2012


$25.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

In this study, Theresa S. Smith explores the lived experience of the contemporary Ojibwes (or Anishnaabeg) amid the remarkable revival of both belief in and practice of the Ojibwe religion. Scholars have contended that traditional Ojibwe religion was gradually lost during the three centuries following Euro-American contact. And yet even though traditional religion no longer exists as a plausibility structure for a hunting-gathering culture, historic and contemporary accounts and a revival in the arts attest to the changing and vital nature of Ojibwe religion. The Island of the Anishnaabeg is a nuanced look at traditional Ojibwe religion and its structure, interpretation, and revival among contemporary Ojibwes.

The Ojibwe life-world, as experienced and described through religious symbols, beliefs, and practices, is alive with the presence of other-than-human people, known as manitouk. This book is the first thorough and systematic interpretive treatment of the relationship between Thunderers and Underwater manitouk. Smith’s work reveals the Thunderers and Water monsters as determinative beings and symbols in the Ojibwe world and explores how their relationship inscribes a dialectic that both reflects the lived reality of that world and helps to determine the position and existence of the human subject in it.

Author Bio

Theresa S. Smith is a professor of religious studies at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.


“[Smith] provides valuable primary sources in contemporary religious thought and interestingly synthesizes much past material in the light of the present. Appropriate for cross-cultural theology and philosophy courses as well as Native American studies, mythology, religious revitalization, and hermeneutics.”—R. A. Bucko, Choice

“The Island of the Anishnaabeg is excellent scholarship, empathetic interpretation, and engaging. [Smith’s] book is enhanced by a clear prose augmented by well selected pictures of artwork by Manitoulin Ojibwe which illustrate many points.”—North Dakota Quarterly

“A thoroughly fascinating and carefully argued investigation of the Ojibwe religious cosmology exploring two critical mythic beings. . . . Extremely accessible.”—Religious Studies Review

Table of Contents

I. Myth, Religion, and the Survival of Ojibwe Tradition
II. A Peopled Cosmos
III. Thunderers
IV. Mishebeshu
V. Storm on the Lake
VI. The Island of the Anishnaabeg
Epilogue: New Horizons
Appendix 1: Guide to Pronunciation of Ojibwe Words
Appendix 2: Glossary of Ojibwe Words
Appendix 3: List of Anishnaabeg Consultants

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