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No. 82

This Old


in Manitoba

Local History


Historic Sites
of Manitoba

Culture Change Among the Northern Ojibwa

by Professor Jack Steinbring

MHS Transactions, Series 3, 1964-65 Season

MHS Transactions were originally published by the Manitoba Historical Society on the above date. We make online versions available as a free, public service. As an historical document, Transactions may contain language that is no longer in common use and which may offend some readers. They should not be construed to represent the views of today’s Manitoba Historical Society.

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The Northern Ojibwa form a central geographic division of the broad Algonkian language family of North America. The Algonkian language family itself represents an immense distribution, probably second only to the islandic diffusions of Polynesia. From Newfoundland to British Columbia, this language family presents a continuum of dialectical variation, with mutual intelligibility for nearly any two adjacent sub-groups throughout the distribution. [1] Coupled with the linguistic bond is a phenomenal degree of cultural homogeneity despite the fact of nontribal organization and what is sometimes called the "atomistic" character of their nomadic hunting bands. [2] With the exception of a few plains groups, and some Northwest Coast area people, many of the Algonkian speaking groups fall within the Northern Sub-Arctic Culture Area. [3] With minor exceptions, the Algonkian speaking people of the Northern Sub-Arctic (which includes the northern two-thirds of Wisconsin, and most of Minnesota) traditionally pursued a hunting and collecting economy, geared to the changing seasons. The migratory movements of large, cold loving animals, like caribou, numerous varieties of fish and waterfowl, and a proliferation of alternately maturing plant life provided the basis for this specialized adaptation.

With the exception of a few Plains Ojibwa west of Lake Winnipeg, and the southeastern Ojibwa who have been close to the Iroquois, the Ojibwa territory lies mainly in northern Ontario and eastern Manitoba. In its southern extensions into Minnesota and Wisconsin, the name has experienced a slight change to Chippewa. Although Dunning [4] questions the derivation of the term, Ojibwa is generally accepted as meaning a "pucker", or seam, probably descriptive of a moccasin style.

The term "Northern Ojibwa" refers to those groups which have remained fairly remote from the social and economic influences of urbanindustrial Canada. The Chippewa of Wisconsin and Minnesota are referred to by anthropologists as the Southern Ojibwa. They are culturally not distinguishable from the Northern Ojibwa.

The diffuse distribution of these culturally homogeneous hunting groups has led many to conclude a marked degree of historical depth. George Quimby [5] defines a Boreal Archaic Culture which persisted from about 5,000 B.C. to 500 B.C. Here was a hunting and collecting economy, geared to a sub-arctic habitat then farther to the south as a result of glacial influence. There are archaeological evidences to suggest that as the glaciers retreated these people moved to the north. Quimby hints that Indian hunting groups of the Upper Great Lakes Region may be descendants of such a culture type. Whether or not one accepts such suggestions of antiquity for the Ojibwa, the nomadic hunting life in the sub-arctic conditions of the Canadian Shield points to an early type of adaptation. The general absence of pottery among the Northern Ojibwa tends to confirm this by reflecting a general absence of sedentary conditions. Pots were too heavy, breakable, and awkward to carry for people always on the move. Instead, basketry of birchbark and rushes, envelopes and bags of hide, the ingenious sturgeon skin "bottle", [6] and nettle fibre nets provided more easily transported containers.

Three hundred years of European contact have altered the conditions of Ojibwa life, but the conservative character of preliterate hunting cultures resists change, particularly where the indigenous habitat adaptation can be maintained. Thus it is that Hallowell, [7] the first real anthropological authority on the Ojibwa culture says of them:

"While fur trading posts were the original focal points for the mediation of changes in the technology of these Indians ..., nevertheless the demand for furs supported and encouraged the perpetuation of their aboriginal ecological adaptation ... hunting".

This perpetuation is still evident, in changing form, among the Ojibwa bands who live along the east shores of Lake Winnipeg. Trapping, fishing, and collecting still form important aspects of the economic base. And, fairly recently, another direct habitat-related venture has been added, namely pulp and timber cutting. This latter is particularly well suited, and could form the basis for a greatly enhanced reserve-centered economy. It is a winter activity dependent upon freezing conditions in the muskeg, and offers income in a season when food was traditionally scarce. It is also an activity, like trapping, in which strength and endurance must characterize the performance of adult males.

This paper derives from fieldwork among the southern Lake Winnipeg bands, and it is assumed, from the literature by Hallowell and Dunning, that these bands accurately reflect the Northern Ojibwa culture type. It should be noted, however, that their greater proximity to urban life, and the commercial activities of Winnipeg lake traffic have had considerable force in culture change. It is clearly not possible to consider, in a brief paper, all of the changes which have taken place, so we will confine our discussion to two rather general ones. To make these observations potentially useful, and assuming that differences tend to produce more human stress than similarities, we have selected two quite different socio-cultural phenomena which seem to exemplify the problems of cultural confrontation.

Language, Psychology, and Change

Anthropological linguistics, with support from modern communications theory, reveals a deep connection between culture, language, and patterns of thought. Language evolves and develops to accommodate new and meaningful perception, tangible, or intangible. Thus some Eskimo have a great many words for snow reflecting the importance of this in their life. For some Peruvians there are dozens of words for potato, and for Australians there are numerous words for a single person in a kinship system. Many years ago the famous British anthropologist, A. C. Haddon, thought he had discovered universal color blindness for blue-green through his tests of a Melanesian tribe. On closer inspection, however, he found that there was simply nothing meaningful about such a distinction, and that no word had developed to indicate it. Among the Coppermine Eskimos Jenness reported, in a dramatic example from his departure after long fieldwork and his local adoption, that there was no word for 'goodbye'. Neither is there one for the Ojibwa, or for the Cree.

There are specializations within the Ojibwa language too, but what is most important is the fact that there are specializations within the English language. These specializations reflect thinking and behaviour for which no basis has developed within Ojibwa cultural life. Our beliefs and attitudes about money economy, governmental organization and function, family life, and religion, not to mention many others are vastly different from their Ojibwa counterparts. And, the English language reflects this difference. A simple and yet profound example of the linguistic gap between Ojibwa and English usage exists in the fact that the Ojibwa do not distinguish between the masculine and feminine forms of the third person singular. When an Ojibwa person says "she" in English, the person may in fact mean "he". The potential for misunderstandings arising from this could hardly be exaggerated. To some this may seem a quaint anthropological fact, but, since interpreters and translators may not even perceive the distinction, to the accused murderer at a formal trial it can become a matter of life or death.

Ojibwa people are aware of the way in which a change in language can bring changes in thinking and attitudes. Any person who has lived continuously for some time with an Ojibwa band will learn of the social and emotional stresses brought on through such change. Often the Ojibwa people living on reserves feel that the learning of English by the children creates a barrier between parent and child. This problem is often ameliorated, however, by the insistence of the parents that the children not use English in the home or while away from school. This practice irritates the teachers who hope for additional usage so as to accelerate the educational experience. To the Ojibwa family, the practise of native usage works to the degree that the parents' observing their children characteristically speaking Ojibwa reinforces their feeling that all is well between them and their children.

An example in which other factors may interfere with parental aims is presented in the case of foster parents. Foster home placements are often made on Ojibwa reserves. Sometimes these children come from more highly acculturated settings, and do not speak Ojibwa at all. In these instances the natural children of the foster parents may be forced, during normal play situations, to use English more extensively. The parents may frown on this but if they have become dependent upon the additional money payments from government, other solutions will have to be found. Obviously such situations do not always work in favor of the foster child. In one instance of foster placement, a much closer relationship has developed between two natural children and their local grandparents who do not normally use English. These children often stay at their grandparents' home, and the smaller foster children, now becoming able to pursue them, are themselves being influenced to learn and speak Ojibwa.

Teachers often bemoan the fact that some of their most intelligent students, usually boys, drop out of school at an early age. These are frequently the sons of band leaders or highly respected persons (not necessarily the chiefs or councillors). There are at least two main reasons for this. First, leadership has hereditary aspects among Ojibwa bands, and the father may hope to provide his son with the opportunity to learn more directly from him. The son then follows closely the example set by the father, not only in hunting, trapping, fishing, and gathering, but in the subtleties of attitude and character formation which will yield the boy his rightful niche in the future leadership of his band. Another factor in this type of withdrawal is the loss of prestige a leader can experience if his own son renounces Indian ways through Western education, and moves to the outside world. But most children have been conditioned to be sensitive to that delicate threshold of Westernization, and withdraw before family and personal stress become intolerable. Some do not, and to those we will next briefly turn.

Social psychologists point out that our society or culture, all the way from the small nuclear family to the level of the great nations, acts as a reinforcement for our belief in ourselves. It is this circle of meaningful persons, prevailing norms, patterns of behaviour, endowed by the group with rightness that supports our beliefs. We identify with a group because it makes us what we are. Our psychological well being is dependent upon self reinforcement through socio-cultural identification. To the Ojibwa person, this identification carries a lot of weight. In addition to characteristic ways of making a living, tracing inheritance, choosing a wife, becoming a leader (or avoiding it), and naming one's children, the Ojibwa person can probably look back at several thousand years of culture history. Hallowell and others had wondered if such cultural depth might not contribute to the development of a personality stereotype. In studying the Lake Winnipeg bands during the 1930s, Hallowell did learn, through the extensive application of Rorscach tests, that responses remained constant throughout many differing degrees of group Westernization. Further studies by Hallowell and others demonstrated that responses even tended to remain fairly constant among second generation industrial workers in the urban setting.

Hallowell's classical studies of Manitoba Indians have made him a world renowned scholar and authority in the field of personality and culture. We will not here go into the technical details of Saulteaux personality configuration. Suffice it to say that there is something fundamental about it, and that its persistence through great external change implies a deep connection between the Ojibwa person and his culture.

Because of the conservative character of this psychological phenomenon, Ojibwa people caught in the always difficult experience of acculturation, undergo a great deal of stress. [8] This stress, it seems, is related to a re-establishment of personal goals, after a certain critical point in the acculturation of the individual has been passed. It is a point at which the Ojibwa person sub-consciously (and sometimes consciously) finds a preponderance of his life objectives defined by Western culture. These might entail the pursuit of personal wealth, aggressively competitive efforts toward fame or personal achievement, or a concern for Christian morality, all absent in the traditional pattern of everyday Ojibwa culture. As this critical threshold is passed, the subject, through overtly verbal means, or in behaviour alone, expresses his identification with White Man's ways. His peer group and his general circle of formerly significant personalities view this on the basis of what it directly implies, a rejection of Ojibwa ways, and, thus, of them.

The Ojibwa are rigorously autonomous (I have had a full Cree introduced to me as a "white man"), [9] and our subject's rejection of the culture is returned in magnified proportions. Abruptly, the psychological supports for his self-identification are withdrawn or deteriorate, and he is forced by his emotional needs to act out his motivations to become "white". Usually this entails the first residential change, possibly to a Métis or rural white community, sometimes to the urban center. But, when in the new setting he suddenly discovers that he is regarded as an Indian, not really accepted, unable to successfully compete because of his lack of sophistication in Western ways. Here he most realizes his psychological loss. He is caught with what the psychologist would call a damaged ego, between enormously different socio-cultural identifications. He is the "marginal man", in limbo, and emotionally impaired.

Our initial focus in Northern Ojibwa studies was actually the problem of urban adjustment. In an effort to acquaint ourselves with the lifeways of particular groups entering this problem area, we chose the band most recently connected to the road network. This band, at Little Black River, about 106 miles northeast of Winnipeg, Manitoba, had been exposed to the road network (though not connected) for about four years when our field researches began in October of 1963. In our investigation of reserve life, we soon learned that it was extremely rare for a family to move to the city. In fact, there is no knowledge of any entire family making a permanent urban move. In such a situation, it is relatively easy to determine something about the characteristics of those persons who do change residence.

For those who make permanent moves to the city, the motivation is quite clear. With very few exceptions, they are socially maladjusted and emotionally disturbed persons, very likely seeking the gratifications of a new social identification, but with improper and often impaired equipment. They are the rejects of the Little Black River Band. They are mothers who have abandoned their children, deserting husbands, and the mentally ill. In the homes at Little Black River, the photographs of these people are brought out, and the stories about them are told. There are frequent references to violent death, to crime and prison, and to suicide. And the deaths are commemorated through photos of the funerals which now hang upon the family walls at Little Black River. No story of the difficulties encountered by the urban migrant is told without reference to the problems of alcohol. This is because alcohol has a special importance to the people of Little Black River. Very few of them will consume alcohol, a fact which brings us to a locally beneficial example of cultural contact.

Alcoholics Anonymous [10]

It is customary to view the abrupt exposure of non-literate peoples to the Western world as having essentially negative force. Guns, whiskey, tuberculosis, venereal disease, money, and Christianity are usually cited to elaborate this view. To the Little Black River Band of Manitoba, the extension of the road system brought an answer to growing cultural needs. At this time most of the responsible adults of the band are members of Alcoholics Anonymous, and are proud to say so.

But the Little Black River Band represents only part of a larger movement. This phenomenon appears to have first emerged at Powerview, Manitoba, with the establishment of the Sunrise chapter in 1956. Diffusion of AA from the urban center apparently occurred through a work force associated with the construction of the hydro-electric dam at Powerview. The membership of this chapter was largely from the north bank area of the Fort Alexander Band. From Powerview, AA spread west to the administrative center of the Fort Alexander Reserve, where the Sunset Chapter was formed, just west of Pine Falls, Manitoba. It was now developing strength, and the bands to the north were beginning to learn about it, the more remote ones indirectly through water traffic along the east shore of Lake Winnipeg. This communication was limited, but highly meaningful because of the family and totemic relationships between bands. AA became a favored thing, and the judgment of a relative or totem mate was to be respected.

When the road system was extended from Powerview to Manigotagan in 1959, AA spread with it. In that year the Daybreak chapter was established at Manigotagan by a Métis gentleman of outstanding personal qualities. [11] Most of the membership was Saulteaux speaking ("low" Ojibwa) and even the local Whites spoke this language. From Manigotagan, AA spread to Bissett where the Golden Group was formed, again largely of enfranchised or off-reservation persons, as well as some Whites and Metis from the mining town. Subsequently a timber operation at Manigotagan moved to a location near Bissett, further swelling that membership.

The next chapter to be formed was the Side Hill Group at the Hollow Water River Reserve (Wanipigow). The establishment of this chapter came shortly after the construction of a 7 mile connecting road.

The last group to be so far formed in the southern Lake Winnipeg area was the Twilight Chapter at the Little Black River Reserve, just half-way between Powerview and Manigotagan. In the 1959 northerly road extension, the highway had passed just four miles east of the Little Black River settlement. Two years later, a section of road was built in 2½ miles approximately to the reserve boundary. Late in 1962, the remaining 1½ miles of road were completed, and in 1963 the local chapter was formally begun. It is common to hear current local history cited in terms of "when we got AA".

In order to understand the absorption and modification of such a complex group phenomenon as AA, by an unmarkedly acculturated band, it is necessary to reassess the function (or functions). Whether one regards alcoholism as an acute, psycho-socially defined disorder, a strictly medical problem, or as a combination of these, the occurrence of a chronic alcoholic would be extremely rare among the Lake Winnipeg bands. There are "drinking problems", to be sure, especially in the larger bands such as the one at Fort Alexander. But, there appears to be little, if any, actual alcoholic addiction of the chronic phase for treaty Indians living on these reserves. Of the numerous persons interviewed, none has ever experienced surreptitious drinking, "blackouts", a rationalization of drinking behaviour, persistent remorse, the dropping of friendships, protection of alcohol supply, morning drinking, tremors, psychomotor inhibition, or obsessive drinking. These are among the 39 attributes established by the Alcoholism Subcommittee of the World Health Organization. At Little Black River, there are many members who have never experienced any kind of serious drinking problem, and there are some (mainly ladies) who have never been drinkers. [12]

If the established functions of AA as they developed within Western culture do not appear emphasized in the process of cultural integration, the social scientist is obliged to examine the new characteristics of function, and also the manner in which this phenomenon was absorbed in the first place. If these matters can be sufficiently explained, the results may offer predictive value.

There is a collective feeling among Indian bands that their culture is disappearing, that they are experiencing an irreparable loss. This has been felt across the entire breadth of North America, and has been met by a bewildering variety of reformative movements. [13] The introduction of Alcoholics Anonymous exhibits some such revivalistic traits.

Hallowell has clearly demonstrated the relationship between Saulteaux (Ojibwa) personality and magico-religious belief. All human difficulties, even death, were explicable in terms of malevolent supernatural forces. This system, through tremendous historical depth, had, among its components, the facility of rationalizing one's behaviour. Christianity, however, rather forcefully sought to break down such beliefs. At Little Black River, Christian teaching commenced in the 1870s, at about "treaty time", but until the present decade was carried on by lay ministers of Indian background. In reviewing the stories about these people, it is clear that they themselves carried a strange combination of Indian and Christian ideas. One, for example, is reported to have observed the Windigo, a cannabalistic monster of the other world. The result of such combinations was a graduality in the assumption of Christian religious beliefs. When the last lay minister left in the 1950s, and a new aggressive echelon of trained, totally Christian clergy stepped in, a stronger need for a new form of rationalizing negative behaviour became felt. Despite its minimal and intermittent use, alcohol supplied the answer. To the people of Little Black River, much of man's misfortune can be attributed directly to alcohol. And alcohol is associated in the minds of Little Black River people with the relentless, culturally deteriorating forces of Westernization. Alcohol provides a symbol of unity, a consolidation of purpose, and, Alcoholics Anonymous provided the ready-made organizational matrix.

This sequence of events and less tangible forces was far from enough, however, to provide a practical basis for the incorporation of a fairly complex set of social ideas and activities. To properly understand the integration of AA, we must turn to an examination of the specific structural and functional attributes of AA which provided for alignment with pre-existent Ojibwa culture traits.

Alcoholics Anonymous, generally speaking, is a male dominated and male oriented group. This fact aligned well with indigenous conditions. Ojibwa culture is male oriented, inheritance is patrilineal, primary economic roles are filled by men, and leadership is entirely male. It is interesting that, although the band auxiliary is an enthusiastic and instrumental group, efforts to establish an AA auxiliary have repeatedly failed. In Ojibwa culture, the verbal arts are highly developed. Story telling is a favored form of pastime, and oratory has traditionally been an activity of men in, or moving toward, roles of leadership. Ojibwa oratory is dramatic, charged with subtle innuendos, and carried on best by the traditional persons of authority, the elders. The testimonial of AA seems to have been pre-destined for this, and it arrived at a time when the authority of the elders was beginning to be questioned by the younger men. Now, practically all of the men, even teenagers, be-long to AA, and it was clear from the start that it would be a long time before the young men could rise to the oratorical heights of their fathers and grandfathers. There is a renewed respect for the older men, and AA may be seen to have provided a means toward the reconsolidation of traditional authority.

The confessional aspects of the AA testimonial might also have aligned with indigenous procedure, although the practise of confession has not been discovered at Little Black River. Confessions among the Ojibwa are reported from several sources in connection with the services of a conjuring shaman. The most recent instance of this is reported by Dunning. [14]

Whereas boasting was reprehensible conduct among the Ojibwa, there was at least one way in which a person could legitimately call attention to his deeds and achievements. This was again through a public recitation. In this way a man might describe a dream which gave him power, or vividly describe, in the most searching detail, an encounter with MAKWA the bear while out hunting. These stories are always the same, told over and over again, but to a never tiring audience. The AA testimonials are a regular feature of every meeting. The same story is told over and over again by each member. These stories detail the conditions of a man's life, before and after joining AA (not after giving up alcohol). They are legitimate stories of achievement.

Whereas some of these testimonials contain a fair richness of sordid former happenings, some are peculiarly thin. In a sense, the latter speakers suffer a kind of subordination since there is evident effort to present an abundance of negative material. These are the persons who have had only limited experience with alcohol. "Fortunately", this does not apply to the younger men, who make up in detail for their shortcomings in oratorical skill.

Whereas boasting, outside the somewhat formalized public recitation, is traditionally unacceptable, one possible instance in AA does come to mind. A certain member of one of the chapters, in not too apologetic terms to his formerly polygynous people, cites the fact that: "Before I joined up with AA, I had ten wives".

The organizational aspects of AA also play an important part in its acceptance. Decentralization and localization align well with the strikingly autonomous Northern Ojibwa bands. These features of AA permit the development of close, band-centered chapters, capable of fully local function, and, significantly, the full use of native language. In a sense, AA also reinforces, in its administrative characteristics, basic band and totemic organization. Band and totemic exogamy are still widely practised. No person is permitted to marry another person from his or her band, or totemic group such as caribou, lynx, or sturgeon. The manner in which this system is reinforced comes through the highly popular AA dances. Several times, throughout the year, AA chapters sponsor dances to which many come from all of the bands. These dances provide wholesome opportunity for young people of different bands and totems to meet, and through which appropriate marriages may develop. None of the band halls is large enough to hold the people who flood to these dances. Music and dancing are of immense importance in the modern life of Ojibwa people. Guitar and fiddle playing are widely favored means toward individual achievement and recognition, and the music itself lies basically in a unique modification of the Selkirk Settler's tunes. Except for the jig, the footwork of the dances seems to be an exclusively Ojibwa innovation which must be seen to be appreciated. This footwork resembles a very complex march step, and the overall theme becomes definitely heroic. Another interesting variation is the dramatic entrance. Before each dance, the male "performers" enter from the front door to the resounding applause of the audience. They then select, by studiously subtle means, their partners, and the dance commences. It might be added that any person deemed by those assembled to be a "great man" who enters the hall late, receives a round of applause. All in all, the association between AA and the institution of music and dance provides considerable reinforcement for both.

That the people are aware of the dangers inherent in a lack of control over excesses on the part of "entertainment" is being dramatically expressed at the time of this publication. One large AA chapter had repeatedly sponsored dances for profit. The situation, reportedly, became quite tense, as no effective effort was made to exclude drunks from these dances. This has resulted, apparently, in the present formation of a new chapter, growing largely from the disenchanted ranks of the larger one.

In AA, local pride is remarkably evident. At the present time, there is unbridled competition between bands to develop the "best" AA chapter. Other bands are repeatedly accused by the Little Black River people of being "jealous" of them. Sometimes, in fact, evil deeds like breaking and entering an isolated cabin, or disturbing a trap, are explained by the jealousy of other bands, "because of our AA". The same views are expressed by all of the bands, especially those with the more recently established chapters.

It should already be apparent that there is nothing very anonymous about AA in these Ojibwa bands. Pride attaches to individual membership, and few can resist telling that they are members. In many cases they will unhesitatingly identify all or most of the other members. At Little Black River, this would simply be a run down of all but one or two of the responsible adult males, and quite a few of the ladies. The non-members, whose identity does change in a limited way, are, as a rule, from the more highly acculturated families, and one has apparently moved from the reserve.

The Christian religious dimension of AA also has appeal. At the present time, this may be seen to fall in line with a diminishing concern for the orthodox, large denominational local church. As is the case elsewhere, fundamentalist groups are appearing more frequently in response to local demands at Little Black River, and it may be more than coincidence that AA meetings are held on Sunday.

To the professional person attempting to investigate the conditions under which another person or group can use help, one fact about the integration of AA stands out more dramatically than any other. This is one of the fundamental concepts of AA. Simply stated it is: "AA will not come to the man. The man must come to AA". This is an example of one of the few objectively secure findings of modern, professional social work, namely self determination. It is the essence of free choice, unaffected by external and culturally threatening pressures. The people of Little Black River demonstrate this choice each time they refer to recent events in terms of "when we got AA". Because of this free choice, their feeling of having something of their own is greatly enhanced, a condition implied each time they express the opinion that another band is "jealous of our AA". And, in the light of continued cultural confrontation, it may be even more important for another reason. It is not likely that the external world will renounce and discourage AA when it clearly performs, in addition to its new functions, those for which it was, in fact, originally intended within urban society. This resolves an almost monumental problem, as the Indians of North America long ago entered into a varying but inextricable dependency relationship with that external world.

The multiplicity of human forces, and the absence of control combine to grossly limit confidence in the predictive processes of social science. Our observations on the adoption of AA by the southern Lake Winnipeg bands, however, reveal a number of rather clear alignments, most of which are posed by generalized indigenous conditions. On the basis of these it seems reasonable to predict that AA will continue to spread north as the road system is extended. With its decentralization, unity of expression, close group experience, provision of independent choice, male orientation, the testimonial, not to mention others, this phenomenon tends to fulfill some basic prerequisites to a reformative movement. And, to those bands lying north on an extending road system, it will have been introduced by other Indian people of the same cultural and linguistic affiliation. There are, in fact, already some isolated AA chapters formed through lake and air traffic. It is interesting to observe also, at the time of this publication, that the first all-Indian AA conference is being planned.

As population increases, both for urban society, and for the Indian, the stresses of culture contact accrue. As man finds his cultural integrity threatened, and thus his own sense of well-being, he strives to defend against changes he does not understand. All over North America there have been hundreds of reformative or "nativistic" movements, some large, most of them small. All of them have been geared to a reconsolidation of values, a new direction, a reconstitution of group identity, a new hope. An informant summed it up pretty well, when I asked him what the name of the Side Hill Chapter meant. He replied, "We are climbing".


Alcoholism Subcommittee, Expert Committee on Mental Health, World Health Organization Second Report, World Health Organization, Geneva, 1952.

Dunning, R. W., Social and Economic Change Among the Northern Ojibwa, University of Toronto Press, 1959.

Gleason, H. A., An Introduction To Descriptive Linguistics, Henry Holt and Company, New York, 1955.

Hallowell, A. Irving, Culture and Experience, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1955.

Hickerson, Harold, The Southwestern Chippewa: An Ethnohistorical Study, American Anthropological Association Memoir 92, 1962.

Quimby, George I., Indian Life In The Upper Great Lakes, University of Chicago, 1960.

Spencer, Robert, and Elden Johnson, An Atlas For Anthropology, W. C. Brown Company, Dubuque, Iowa, 1960.

Steinbring, Jack, "Recent Studies Among the Northern Ojibwa", Manitoba Archaeological Newsletter, Vol. I, No. 4, Winter 1964, pp. 9-12.

Steinbring, Jack, "Saulteaux Personality, Alcohol, and Nativistic Revival", Mandala (United College Creative Quarterly), January 1965, pp. 8-10.

Steinbring, Jack, "Problems of Culture Change For the Canadian Indian", United College Public Lecture Series, 1965, (Publication plans for fall, 1965).

Voget, Fred, "American Indian Reformations and Acculturation", National Museum of Canada Bulletin No. 190, Contributions to Anthropology, Part II, 1960.


1. Gleason, H. A., An Introduction to Descriptive Linguistics, Henry Holt and Co., New York, 1955, p. 367.

2. Hickerson, Harold, The Southwestern Chippewa: An Ethnohistorical Study, American Anthropological Association Memoir 92, 1962, p. 9.

3. Spencer, Robert F. and Elden Johnson, Atlas For Anthropology, W. C. Brown Co., Dubuque, Iowa, 1960, p. 18.

4. Dunning, R. W., Social and Economic Change Among the Northern Ojibwa, University of Toronto Press, 1959, p. 8.

5. Quimby, George I., Indian Life In the Upper Great Lakes, University of Chicago Press, 1960, p. 43.

6. This large container is made from the whole skin of a sturgeon, cut only at the head and tail. After removal of the fins, the skin is stripped off, then turned back upon itself to its original shape. Small pebbles are rolled around in it to remove the surface oils. The bottom is closed with stitching and with glue made from the intestines of the same fish. The whole form is finally filled with sand, and deposited in an upright position in soft ground or sand. It then dries into the original shape. Later the sand is poured out, and a stopper is made for the top. This container appears to have been used mainly in the storage of sturgeon oils, important to Ojibwa cooking. In such containers, the oils are said to have remained preserved for approximately two years.

7. Hallowell, A. Irving, Culture and Experience, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1955, p. 120.

8. Because of the great degree of cultural difference, this is far deeper stress than the ordinary kind the social worker or psychiatrist sees in say second generation Ukrainian or German.

9. And, a Cree does not speak "Indian"!

10. It is both ethically and legally essential that confidentiality be strictly maintained in a report of this kind. The facts, as they are presented, have been checked and appear to be accurate. In conformity with the stated policies of Alcoholics Anonymous, this constitutes, at present, the most comprehensive discussion of the subject which I myself would feel able to present in a non-anthropological journal.

11. In a way, it is unfortunate that this man's identity cannot be made public, so as to accord him the utmost credit deserved. His stature can only be estimated through the fact that the people of all regional bands agree that he is a "great man". This is a translation of an indigenous Ojibwa term reserved only for men who have achieved the highest respect.

12. Alcoholism Subcommittee, Expert Committee on Mental Health, World Health Organization Second Report, World Health Organization, Geneva, 1952, pp. 26-30.

13. Voget, Fred, "American Indian Reformations and Acculturation," National Museum of Canada, Bulletin 190, Contributions to Anthropology, 1960, Part II, p. 1.

14. Dunning, R. W., Social and Economic Change Among the Northern Ojibwa, University of Toronto Press, 1959, p. 180.

Page revised: 22 May 2010

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