Adult Reading Level

PORTAGE LAKE: MEMORIES OF AN OJIBWE CHILDHOOD, Maude Kegg, ed. John D. Mitchell, University of Minnesota Press, 2037 University Ave., SE, Minneapolis 55414. First published in Canada, 1991, University of Alberta Press, Athabasca Hall, Edmonton, Alberta, Can T6G 2E8. 1991, 1993, 272 pages. Ojibwe glossary, text notes, lists of word endings. Paperback, $16.95. 0-8166-2415-1

Maude Kegg is an elder of Mille Lacs reservation in Minnesota. A well known beadwork artist, she's also known as a cultural preserver. In 1970, she became Ojibwe language teacher to Nichols, then a linguistics graduate student at the University of Minnesota (who has recently completed editing an Ojibwe dictionary -- the first since that of Bishop Baraga in 1898). In this book, Maude tells many stories of her girlhood in th late 19th century. She grew up among traditional people who had almost no contact with white people. Though there are a few myths and legends here, these are stories she was told, and they are part of some daily event of her life. The stories are on facing pages in English and Ojibwe. Since the agglutinative languag is very complex and has nothing structurally in common with European languages, a large, elaborate glossary, and verb form rules make up almost 1/4 of the book. Maude's stories are good and cast a new light on Ojibwe history, bvut in many respects this is a book for linguists and serious students of the Ojibew language. It is to be hoped that for those who just want the stories, a slimmer, less expensive, volume without the linguistic apparatus will be published. The stories without this apparatus would be very good for Middle school and YA readers. Still, this is mainly a technical language book, for which the stories are a tool to analyze and learn Ojibwe. Reviewed by Paula Giese

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Last Updated: Thursday, April 04, 1996 - 10:09:21 AM