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Boreal Community Media

Literary Pick of the Week: Author tells of North Shore city taken from Anishinaabe

Feb 03, 2020 07:55AM ● By Editor

By Mary Ann Grossman of the St. Paul Pioneer Press - February 2, 2020

Grand Marais is a favorite destination for many Minnesotans. What visitors might not know is that just one mile east of the North Shore town there was a village called Chippewa City where as many as 200 Anishinaabe families lived at the turn of the 19th century. 

There is only one remaining village building — St. Frances Xavier Church — but Staci Lola Drouillard brings the vanished community to life in her book “Walking the Old Road: A People’s History of Chippewa City and the Grand Marais Anishinaabe” (University of Minnesota Press, $21.95). It has just announced as a Minnesota Book Award finalist.

Drouillard, a descendant of the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Anishinaabe, blends memoir, oral history and narrative in her book, whose title comes from the Old Road that is a worn path stretching about a mile between Grand Marais and Chippewa City.

She explains that Chippewa City was home to generations of Ojibwe ancestors, including her own family, and documents how this once thriving Indigenous community was eventually stolen by white settlers in the 20th century through a series of unjust land transactions. Voices of North Shore Anishinaabe range from artist George Morrison and Ruth Meyers (“Grandma of Indian Education”) to the author’s close relatives. Her connections of the Ojibwe of today with the traditions of their ancestors and their descendants are enhanced by 98 black and white photos and three maps.

Drouillard will share this story that has been buried for a century at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 5, at Hamline Midway Library, 1558 W. Minnehaha Ave., St. Paul. The free program is part of Friends of the St. Paul Public Library’s Fireside Reading series.

To read the original story and read related book reviews, follow the link to the twin website.

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