Northern Wilds Magazine

“My Grandfather’s Knocking Sticks: Ojibwe Family Life and Labor on the Reservation”


By Brenda J. Child

Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2014

Brenda Child uncovers a Bureau of Indian Affairs file on her grandparents that opens her eyes to what life was like for her family on the reservation. Child weaves together her family stories from the Red Lake Reservation as well as stories from Ojibwe people all around the Great Lakes. She discusses the many challenges this generation faced—few opportunities for work, difficulty working with government programs, poverty and disruption to traditional culture.

Child recounts many particular stories and traditions from Red Lake—fishing, ricing, dance, healing—that all give us a glimpse into reservation life and the culture that continues to be passed on to new generations today.—Erin Altemus

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