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Memories, Myths, and Dreams of an Ojibwe Leader

by William Berens as told to A. Irving Hallowell edited with introductions by Jennifer S. H. Brown and Susan Elaine Gray

Rupert’s Land Record Society Series #11

McGill-Queen’s University Press
September 2009

ISBN 9780773536050 (paper)

In the 1930s, Chief William Berens shared with anthropologist A. Irving Hallowell a remarkable history of his life, as well as many personal and dream experiences that held special significance for him. Most of this material has never been published.

Because the elderly chief wanted his visitor to understand the Ojibwe world, and because Hallowell was deeply interested in his subject matter and was such a good listener, Berens freely related his dreams and other stories about encounters with powerful beings. The fact that he also shared traditional myths in summer, when Ojibwe people thought it dangerous to discuss such things, shows the depth of his relationship with Hallowell. Berens' reminiscences and story and myth texts are unparalleled as sources for the life, experiences, and outlook of this important Ojibwe leader, and for the insights they provide into the history and culture of his people.

Rooted in the collaboration between Berens as steward of his oral traditions and Hallowell as creator and guardian of their written versions, Memories, Myths, and Dreams of an Ojibwe Leader draws the reader into the world - and world view - of Chief Berens, showing how an Aboriginal Christian of the early twentieth century could simultaneously take part in "modern" and "traditional" Ojibwe life.

Jennifer S. H. Brown is director of the Centre for Rupert’s Land Studies and holds a Canada Research Chair in Aboriginal history at the University of Winnipeg. Susan Elaine Gray is an award-winning scholar of Northern Algonquian history and cultures. She teaches Aboriginal history at the University of Winnipeg.

Books on Manitoba History

Posted: 7 September 2009, updated 11 October 2009

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