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Minjimendaamowinon Anishinaabe : reading and righting All Our Relations in written English



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Following the writing practice of learned Anishinaabe Elders Alexander Wolfe (Benesih Doodaem), Dan Musqua (Mukwa Doodaem) and Edward Benton-Banai (Geghoon Doodaem), this Midewiwin-like naming Manidookewin acknowledges Anishinaabe Spiritual teachings as belonging to the body of Midewiwin knowledge. Unlike any other study of Canadian literature, this dissertation is set up like a naming Manidookewin (ceremonial way) to resuscitate Midewiwin teachings that were forced underground during the fervor of colonial settlement and Christian proselytism. Therefore, this dissertation makes a valuable contribution to Canadian literary criticism because it uses Midewiwin teachings as a Spiritual path set down by ancestors to create a Manidookewin for engaging with selected contemporary Anishinaabe stories. An Anishinaabe-specific theoretical method, this Manidookewin attends to Midewiwin teachings carried by Doodaem (clan) relations in selected Anishinaabe stories written in English. A naming Manidookewin does not seek to render as meaningless all other critical interpretations, rather this ceremonial way adheres to Midewiwin Doodaem protocols for attending to the ways of ancestors. According to such protocols, I participate personally in this Manidookewin by entering the text as an Anishinaabekwe-Metis-Nehiowe (Plains Ojibway-Metis-Cree woman). Guided by the storied teachings of Anishinaabe paternal ancestors, I enter the text as a member of the Benesih Doodaem (Bird Clan) to negotiate discursive spaces for the re-settlement of Doodaemag, Manitoukwe, Chibooway and Nindawemeganidok, or Midewiwin Clan relations, a Mother Creator, Spiritual ancestors, and living relations. In accordance with Midewiwin traditions, this naming Manidookewin relies on the previous work of community-acknowledged authorities. Therefore, Alexander Wolfe’s Earth Elder Stories: The Pinayzitt Path; Dan Musqua’s Seven Fires: Teachings of the Bear Clan; Edward Benton-Banai’s The Mishomis Book; Basil Johnston’s Ojibway Heritage, Ojibway Ceremonies, The Manitous: The Spiritual World of the Ojibway; and Gerald Vizenor’s The People Named the Chippewa: Narrative Histories provide the foundation for this naming Manidookewin. Their work is used to resuscitate Midewiwin teachings that appear to be submerged in written English in Marie Annharte Baker’s “Bird Clan Mother,” Kimberly Blaeser’s “Of Landscape and Narrative,” Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm’s “this is where we stand our ground,” and Kahgegagabowh’s The Traditional History and Characteristic Sketches of the Ojibway Nation. Their work is also used to shine a light on the Midewiwin teachings recalled by Doodaem relations in Winona LaDuke’s “Giiwedahn: Coming Home” and Richard Wagamese’s Keeper N’ Me. Along with Anishinaabe scholars Margaret Noori, Lawrence Gross, D’arcy Rheault, and Patricia McQuire, these writers are included as members of specific Doodaemag to show how Midewiwin teachings ground some Anishinaabe stories. In connecting stories written in English to Midewiwin and Doodaemag prechristian and precolonial systems of governance and signification, this study illustrates how Anishinaabe literature performs Spiritual and political functions by re-membering and relating Being to Gitchi Manitou, Manitoukwe, Chibooway, and Nindawemeganidok.



Indigenous (Canada) Literatures, Anishinaabe Literature, Native-Canadian Literature



Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Graduate Studies


College of Graduate Studies


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