Ojibwe Stories from the Upper Berens River


Ojibwe Stories from the Upper Berens River

A. Irving Hallowell and Adam Bigmouth in Conversation

Edited and with an introduction by Jennifer S.H. Brown

New Visions in Native American and Indigenous Studies Series

240 pages
15 photographs, 1 map, index

eBook (EPUB)
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January 2018


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January 2018


$50.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

January 2018


$50.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

In Ojibwe Stories from the Upper Berens River Jennifer S. H. Brown presents the dozens of stories and memories that A. Irving Hallowell recorded from Adam (Samuel) Bigmouth, son of Ochiipwamoshiish (Northern Barred Owl), at Little Grand Rapids in the summers of 1938 and 1940. The stories range widely across the lives of four generations of Anishinaabeg along the Berens River in Manitoba and northwestern Ontario.

In an open and wide-ranging conversation, Hallowell discovered that Bigmouth was a vivid storyteller as he talked about the eight decades of his own life and the lives of his father, various relatives, and other persons of the past. Bigmouth related stories about his youth, his intermittent work for the Hudson’s Bay Company, the traditional curing of patients, ancestral memories, encounters with sorcerers, and contests with cannibalistic windigos. The stories also tell of vision-fasting experiences, often fraught gender relations, and hunting and love magic—all in a region not frequented by Indian agents and little visited by missionaries and schoolteachers.

With an introduction and rich annotations by Brown, a renowned authority on the Upper Berens Anishinaabeg and Hallowell’s ethnography, Ojibwe Stories from the Upper Berens River is an outstanding primary source for both First Nations history and the oral literature of Canada’s Ojibwe peoples.

Author Bio

Jennifer S. H. Brown is professor emerita of history at the University of Winnipeg and fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. Among her many publications she is the coeditor of A. Irving Hallowell’s Contributions to Ojibwe Studies: Essays, 1934–1972 (Nebraska, 2010), Memories, Myths, and Dreams of an Ojibwe Leader, and other books.


“These stories are not merely interwoven with life situations; they are an integral part of life. This book is an immense contribution to its field. It brings to life the people, practices, and stories that were real and alive one hundred years ago. The stories themselves give extraordinary insights into the daily personal lives of the Berens River Ojibwe.”—Theresa M. Schenck, professor emerita of American Indian studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and editor of The Ojibwe Journals of Edmund F. Ely, 1833–1849

“The book’s focus and strength is its very detailed contextualization and annotation of Bigmouth’s tales. . . . It will be of considerable interest and value to specialists in Rupert’s Land ethnography and ethnohistory. It will also be of interest to scholars in history of American anthropology.”—Alice Beck Kehoe, author of North America Before the European Invasions, Second Edition

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations    
Glossary of Ojibwe Personal Names Appearing in the Text    
Map of the World of Adam Bigmouth    
Prologue: Adam Declines to Conjure, 1932    
1. Boyhood Memories    
2. Working for the Hudson’s Bay Company    
3. Dream Experiences    
4. Curing, Helping, Love Medicine, and an Old Man’s Jealousy    
5. Northern Barred Owl, Man of Many Powers    
6. Gender, Power, and Incest    
7. The Challenges and Risks of Being Female    
8. Bad Medicine and Old Men’s Threats    
9. Starvation Threatened and Real    
10. Encounters and Contests with Windigos    
11. Human Beings Made into Windigos    
12. The Curing of Windigos    
13. The Costs of Mockery and Cruelty    
14. Magical Medicines and Powers    
Afterword: Cousins and Connections, Power and Succession, Seeking Life