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Walking the Old Road

A People’s History of Chippewa City and the Grand Marais Anishinaabe

2019
Author:

Staci Lola Drouillard

Walking the Old Road

The story of a once vibrant, now vanished off-reservation Ojibwe village—and a vital chapter of the history of the North Shore

Walking the Old Road revisits a time when generations of Ojibwe ancestors called the lost community of Chippewa City home. Staci Lola Drouillard, whose family once lived in Chippewa City, draws on memories, family history, historical analysis, and testimony passed down through generations to conduct us through the ages of early European contact, government land allotment, family relocation, and assimilation.

We do this because telling where you are from is just as important as your name. It helps tie us together and gives us a strong and solid place to speak from. It is my hope that the stories of Chippewa City will be heard, shared, and remembered, and that the story of Chippewa City and the Grand Marais Chippewa will continue to grow. By being a part of the living narrative, Bimaadizi Aadizookaan, together we can create a new story about what was, what is, and, ultimately, what will be.

from the Prologue

At the turn of the nineteenth century, one mile east of Grand Marais, Minnesota, you would have found Chippewa City, a village that as many as 200 Anishinaabe families called home. Today you will find only Highway 61, private lakeshore property, and the one remaining village building: St. Francis Xavier Church. In Walking the Old Road, Staci Lola Drouillard guides readers through the story of that lost community, reclaiming for history the Ojibwe voices that have for so long, and so unceremoniously, been silenced.

Blending memoir, oral history, and narrative, Walking the Old Road reaches back to a time when Chippewa City, then called Nishkwakwansing (at the edge of the forest), was home to generations of Ojibwe ancestors. Drouillard, whose own family once lived in Chippewa City, draws on memories, family history, historical analysis, and testimony passed from one generation to the next to conduct us through the ages of early European contact, government land allotment, family relocation, and assimilation.

Documenting a story too often told by non-Natives, whether historians or travelers, archaeologists or settlers, Walking the Old Road gives an authentic voice to the Native American history of the North Shore. This history, infused with a powerful sense of place, connects the Ojibwe of today with the traditions of their ancestors and their descendants, recreating the narrative of Chippewa City as it was—and is and forever will be—lived.

Walking the Old Road

Staci Lola Drouillard, a descendant of the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Anishinaabe, is the development director at WTIP Community Radio in Grand Marais, Minnesota, and was for many years the producer of two original radio series, Walking the Old Road: The History of Chippewa City and the Grand Marais Chippewa and Anishinaabe Way, an exploration of contemporary Ojibwe life through interviews and storytelling.

Walking the Old Road

We do this because telling where you are from is just as important as your name. It helps tie us together and gives us a strong and solid place to speak from. It is my hope that the stories of Chippewa City will be heard, shared, and remembered, and that the story of Chippewa City and the Grand Marais Chippewa will continue to grow. By being a part of the living narrative, Bimaadizi Aadizookaan, together we can create a new story about what was, what is, and, ultimately, what will be.

from the Prologue

Staci Lola Drouillard’s thick descriptions and beautiful photographs offer a rare opportunity to be transported through space and time and connect with Minnesota’s North Shore. History comes alive in Walking the Old Road.

Anton Treuer, author of Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Afraid to Ask

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About E-books

Available in December 2019