Gichigami Hearts

Stories and Histories from Misaabekong

2021
Author:

Linda LeGarde Grover

BOOK DISCUSSION GUIDE

Award-winning author Linda LeGarde Grover interweaves family and Ojibwe history with stories from Misaabekong (the place of the giants) on Lake Superior

Long before there was a Duluth, Minnesota, the massive outcropping that divides the city emerged from the ridge of gabbro rock running along the westward shore of Lake Superior. A great westward migration carried the Ojibwe people to this place, the Point of Rocks. Against this backdrop—Misaabekong, the place of the giants—the lives chronicled in Linda LeGarde Grover’s book unfold, some in myth, some in long-ago times, some in an imagined present, and some in the author’s family history, all with a deep and tenacious bond to the land, one another, and the Ojibwe culture.

"With compelling stories of sacred places, beloved people, myths, legends, and treasured memories, Gichigami Hearts is a moving tribute to the Ojibwe past."
—Carolyn Holbrook, author of Tell Me Your Names and I Will Testify

Long before there was a Duluth, Minnesota, the massive outcropping that divides the city emerged from the ridge of gabbro rock running along the westward shore of Lake Superior. A great westward migration carried the Ojibwe people to this place, the Point of Rocks. Against this backdrop—Misaabekong, the place of the giants—the lives chronicled in Linda LeGarde Grover’s book unfold, some in myth, some in long-ago times, some in an imagined present, and some in the author’s family history, all with a deep and tenacious bond to the land, one another, and the Ojibwe culture.

Within the larger history, Grover tells the story of her ancestors’ arrival at the American Fur Post in far western Duluth more than two hundred years ago. Their fortunes and the family’s future are inextricably entwined with tales of marriages to voyageurs, relocations to reservation lands, encounters with the spirits of the lake and wood creatures, the renewal of life—in myth and in art, the search for meaning in the transformations of our day is always vital. Finally, in one man’s struggles, age-old tribulations, the intergenerational traumas of extended families and communities, and a uniquely Ojibwe appreciation for the natural and spiritual worlds converge, forging the Ojibwe worldview and will to survive as his legacy to his descendants.

Blending the seen and unseen, the old and the new, the amusing and the tragic and the hauntingly familiar, this lyrical work encapsulates a way of life forever vibrant at the Point of Rocks.

Linda LeGarde Grover is professor emeritus of American Indian studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth and a member of the Bois Forte Band of Ojibwe. Her books The Road Back to Sweetgrass, Onigamiising: Seasons of an Ojibwe Year, and In the Night of Memory, all from Minnesota, have earned numerous awards, including the Native Writers Circle of the Americas First Book Award; Northeastern Minnesota Book Awards for Poetry, Memoir, and Fiction; and a Minnesota Book Award for Memoir and Creative Nonfiction. Her book of stories The Dance Boots was the winner of the Flannery O’Connor Award and the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize.

With compelling stories of sacred places, beloved people, myths, legends, and treasured memories, Gichigami Hearts is a moving tribute to the Ojibwe past.

Carolyn Holbrook, author of Tell Me Your Names and I Will Testify

With stories of the essence of land and people, Linda LeGarde Grover weaves a generational history of a sacredness inseparable from place, of the unbroken chain of Anishinaabe existence in Missabekong. Her powerful prose and ethereal poetry wash over the pages like waves along the shore of Lake Superior, revealing a strength of survival that goes beyond memory and reminding us to watch, listen, and breathe.

Gwen Westerman, Minnesota State University, Mankato

In Linda LeGarde Grover’s Gichigami Hearts, we are given the gift of an intensely personal, and at the same time brilliant, walkthrough of Grover’s part of the Anishinaabe universe. Just a tremendously lovely and unique book.

Erika T. Wurth, author of White Horse

This thoughtful book—parts memoir, history, poetry, myth—presents Duluth and North Shore from the point of view of those who lived there long before white people. Grover, a prizewinning writer and enrolled member of the Bois Forte Band of Ojibwe, brings to vivid life the neighborhoods around Duluth’s Point of Rocks, the town of Chippewa City and places in between.

Star Tribune Magazine

[Grover’s] own layering of family history, creation stories and tribal lore makes this book a complex map of a place and its people in intimate, worldly and otherworldly terms.

Star Tribune

Gichigami Hearts is for fans of history and story alike.

Book Riot

In Gichigami Hearts, one does not read a story only once and walk away. With each new telling, more is revealed. Every story connects with another, back and forth in time.

Colors of Influence

Genre-defying . . . Sharing stories and histories, Grover lyrically reflects upon her community’s relationships to the land, the culture and one another.

Karla Strand, Ms. Magazine

There is so much to explore in this collection, with stories that connect us all.

Superstition Review

Contents

Part I. Point of Rocks

Gabbro

An Old Story

Bimosewin: From the Bethel to the Union Gospel Mission

From the Rocks to the Docks

Anishinaabe Relatives and Holy Places

Grandparents

Life Among the Italians

The Beanbag

Rain, Fog, Ghost, Spider

Part II. Gichigami Hearts

Waawaashkeshi

Mooz

Lake Hearts

Lake Spirits

Sea Smoke on Gichigami

Barney-enjiss

The Stone Tomahawk

Part III. Rabbits in Wintertime

Listening and Remembering By Heart

Rabbits in the Snow

Niizh Odain: The Wolf and the Rabbit

The Harbor: Nanaboozhoo’s Brothers of the Heart

Woods Lovely, Dark, and Deep

Rabbits Watching Over Onigamiising

Part IV. Traveling Song

The End and Renewal of the Earth

Redemption

Mishomis

Grandfather-iban Gi-bimose

Places Remembered, Though Some Have Changed

Homeland

Traveling Song

Acknowledgments