Linda LeGarde Grover is an Anishinaabe writer, and an enrolled member of the Bois Forte Band of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe. While she does not call herself a fluent speaker of the Ojibwe language, Grover knows the language intimately enough to teach pieces of it to readers in this collection of essays. “The passing of knowledge,” she says, “is the means by which we have survived as a people. Teaching is, at its heart, an act of generosity.”
This spirit of generosity permeates each essay. The lightness of Grover’s worldview brings a sense of ease and understanding. Yes, we’re being taught, but it is as if Grover knows that she is still learning along with us. Her voice is knowledgable and confident, and, at the same time, whimsical and enthusiastic.
Grover allows the reader glimpses into her family, her life. She talks of her mother and father, her uncles, brothers, and other relatives. These moments, however brief, create a sense of community and closeness. She speaks of the environment as a relative as well. She shares how indigenous language and lifestyles are connected to various seasons.
Aspects of modern life—such as social media and technology—are in proximity to historical context like the Indian Boarding School and Indian Termination Eras in America. Of course, not all acknowledgement of the past involves trauma and tragedy. Grover shares stories from her ancestors that came before and compare their lives to her family’s life now. The acknowledgement of the past and present reminds readers that they inform each other, but also that Native people are survivors, that Native people are modern, that their lives are layered and complex.
Onigamiising welcomes readers to learn, bringing light to even the darkest moments in indigenous history, not by making light of them, but rather, by finding the light in tradition and perseverance.–Carson Faust