History books contain many stories of great leaders, but oftentimes the stories about quiet greatness stay behind the scenes. Holding Our World Together highlights the stories of remarkable Ojibwe women who struggled through trying times to preserve a valuable community; a culture that may very well have been otherwise lost. Unsung Ojibwe leaders, as one example, did the hard labors necessary to produce, process, and distribute wild rice in order to economically maintain a community. The Ojibwe women handled all of these tasks as an effort to survive, and they were oftentimes the business leaders of a community that did not limit women’s roles.
The unsung leaders of the Ojibwe women maintained traditions and cultural values when patriarchal European settlers did their best to Christian-ize Native American spirituality. These women were strongholds in preserving their culture’s traditions. These unsung leaders fought for strong family values and stood up for their children. When the government insisted (often forcibly) that all children be sent to boarding schools so that they could be culturally assimilated, Ojibwe women knew that wasn’t “right” and did their best to make their voices heard and regain custody of their children. “It seems it would be much easier to get my daughter out of prison than out of your school,” stated one woman who bravely approached government officials to voice her dissent.
We all know that atrocities were committed against Native Americans as our country was developed. Brenda Child’s book, however cognizant of these acts, looks well beyond destruction to the courage and perseverance of a nation’s women: women strong enough to help the nation survive and thrive.
Using oral tradition and written documents, Child brings the Ojibwe women to life. More than a well-researched history of Native North Americans, and more than an acknowledgement of Ojibwe women’s accomplishments, this book is a tribute to the courage, resiliency and leadership of the Ojibwe women. What a wonderful tribute Child has written!
As part of the Rochester Public Library Visiting Author Series, Brenda Child will be joining us on Sunday, September 9th, at 2:00 PM in the Library Auditorium. Admission is free and open to the public.