Holding Our World Together:
Ojibwe Women and the Survival of Community
By Brenda J. Child
Viking Books½164 pp½$22.95 USA /$24.00 CAN
American Indian men have long understood women within American Indian families, tribes and communities play a very influential role.
Brenda J. Child in “Holding Our World Together: Ojibwe Women and the Survival of Community” brings this concept to life. The title alone was enough to make me want to read this book from Viking Book’s The Penquin Library of American Indian History.
Child is a tribal citizen of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians and is an assistant professor of American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota, Previously, she authored “Boarding School Seasons: American Indian Families, 1900 – 1940.”
I particularly liked the fact the Child is in fact Ojibwe. She writes with authority as a academic and as an Anishinaabekwe – or Indian woman. Child mixes her life experiences as an Ojibwe with her historian skills to write an amazing account that covers several centuries on the role of women in Indian society.
While Child is not overly exhaustive in her presentation into a glimpse of Ojibwe life over the centuries in this short book, Child covers a lot of ground to make her case of the influence of women.
“Ojibwe women were born into a society that valued their participation in the material and spiritual well-being of their community. Women were thought to hold an innate strength because of their life-giving ability…” writes Child.
Traditionally, Ojibwe women harvested the wild rice in the waterways of the Great Lakes region and did some farming, while Ojibwe men fished and hunted.
Throughout the generations, Ojibwe women roles have obviously altered, but the play a significant role in governance of their families, tribes and communities.
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