Examination Of “the History Of The Ojibway People” By William W. Warre

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Examination of "The History of the Ojibway People" by William W. WarrenThe goal of this paper is to provide an examination of the book "The History of the Ojibway People" by William W. Warren as well as express some of what I learned about the book, the author and the Ojibway people. William W. Warren, born of a white father and Ojibway mother, used his fluent familiarity with the Ojibway language and his tremendous popularity with both whites and Indians to document the traditions and oral statements of the Ojibway people at a time when the future of their existence was in jeopardy. Why did I choose this book to read and review? Every summer for eight years my wife and I took a group of approximately 20 high school students to the Bois Forte Band, Chippewa Indian Reservation in Tower, Minnesota.

We spent several weeks getting to know both the children and adults of the reservation providing fun, interactive, learning programs for the children and other activities for the teens and adults. Over the years, we developed several strong relationships with the Indians and learned a lot from them about their culture and their way of life and in turn, hopefully shared some of the same with them. It is because of the relationships built and the time spent with the Chippewa Indians that I wanted to learn more about their history. With a little research, I came across "The History of the Ojibway People" by William W. Warren. Learning about this book means first learning about its author

William W. Warren was born in 1821 to Lyman M. Warren, a white fur tradesman, and Mary Cadotte, an Ojibway woman. He was the oldest of eight children. His mother, Mary, spoke no English so at an early age William began speaking both English and the Ojibway language.

Because of his fluent speech in both languages, he was genuinely liked and respected by Indians. At a young age, he began documented stories from older men in the Ojibway tribes and translating the bible and other stories like "Arabian Nights" for the Indians. Documenting the stories and traditions of the Ojibway people became his greatest pass time during his teen years while translating and interpreting became a stepping stone for a political career as he was soon involved in the negotiations of treaties between the United States and the Ojibway people. While living in Minnesota in 1850, William was nominated and elected to the state legislature as a representative of the district he lived in. In 1851 he was asked to write a series of articles for 'The Minnesota Democrat' newspaper on the Ojibway people. These articles were the beginning stages of what became "The History of the Ojibway People".

William wrote several articles for the newspaper and eventually finished the manuscript for the first, of what was to be a many volume series of books on the Ojibway people, in 1853. Upon returning home from a trip to a New York publisher, William Warren died of a severe hemorrhage at the young age of 28.Although William died before he could finish all of the volumes he planned and before he could get the work published, 32 years later, the Minnesota Historical Society first published the work as an early and unique contribution to the field of Ojibway history and culture. As stated in the introduction, written by W. Roger Buffalohead, "This book offers intriguing reading, full of tantalizing tales. One can only wonder how much more would be known about the Ojibway today if Warren had been able to finish his other volumes, instead of carrying his knowledge of his people into an early grave" (p. xiii).

Warren's success can be attributed to the the high regard and popularity that he, the young man of mixed Ojibway and Euro-American heritage, enjoyed among both Ojibway and white people. Again, Buffalohead states, "It is true that Warren won the friendship, trust, and confidence of tribal members throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin; it is also certain that he was genuinely sympathetic in his fight for tribal interests as a n interpreter for the United States government and as an elected member of Minnesota's territorial legislature" (p. ix). Armed with background information on both the author and the work itself, there are two areas that Warren documented that our class has discussed. First, in 1612, the Ojibway gained their first knowledge of the white race as the French made their way through Lake Superior chasing the lucrative fur trade. Warren states, "The Ojibways learned to love the French people.. they (the French) respected the Ojibway religious rites and ceremonies, and they 'never laughed' at their superstitious beliefs and ignorance.

They fully appreciated.. the many noble traits and qualities possessed by these bold and wild hunters of the forest. It is an acknowledged fact, that no nation of whites have ever succeeded so well in gaining the love and confidence of the red men, as the Franks" (p.132).The second topic concerns the War of 1812. There has been a general impression that the Ojibways, as a tribe, fought for the British during the war of 1812. This is not true. Of the nine thousand Ojibway on Lake Superior and the Mississippi, not one or two warriors joined the British (Warren, 1984).

The British sent an interpreter bearing gifts and promises of land to the Ojibway. Warren states the Ojibway chief returned the gifts with the answer "When I go to war against my enemies, I do not call on the whites to join my warriors. The white people have quarreled among themselves, and I do not wish to meddle in their quarrels, nor do I intend ever, even to be guilty of breaking the window-glass of a white man's dwelling" (p.369).All of the chief's warriors refused to fight with the British except one. The book, "History of the Ojibway People", is over 410 pages of tradition and culture that provide incredible insight into the Ojibway people. William W.

Warren had a unique position of trust from both the whites and the Ojibways, a passion for listening to and telling these stories, as well as the rare ability to speak the languages of both people. All of these abilities make for a rare glimpse into the life of the Ojibway people of early America.

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