cover image Ojibwa: People of the Forests and Prairies

Ojibwa: People of the Forests and Prairies

Michael G. Johnson. Firefly, $35 (160p) ISBN 978-1-77085-800-8

With this informative book, Johnson (Arts and Crafts of the Native American Tribes) manages to concisely describe the Ojibwa’s history, demographics, cultures, artwork, and tribal divisions, encompassing thousands of years and many different cultural and geographical groups. Anishinabe (original men) is what they call themselves; whites in the U.S. and Canada have mostly referred to them as Chippewa and Ojibwa. In the early 19th century, the Ojibwa’s geographical expansion covered a huge portion of North America, “probably greater than any other Native American people... north of the Rio Grande.” This territory included forests, grasslands, prairies, and the Great Lakes. Multiple tribes lived in this expanse and spoke a variety of dialects stemming from the Algonquian linguistic family. Johnson catalogues the tribes’ regional customs and discusses the Ojibwa’s history of interactions with European settlers, though his book is more of a reference guide to Ojibwa culture than a critical study of the effects of colonialism. The chapters on Ojibwa art are especially fascinating. The book’s layout is stunningly packed with full-color paintings and illustrations, photos of artworks and artifacts, and historical photographs. This study will appeal to anyone interested in First Nations people and would make a great addition to reference libraries. (Sept.)