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Published: 21 September 2000

264 Pages | 17 halftones, 3 maps

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

ISBN: 9780195134643

Also Available As:


Bookseller Code (04)


Ojibwe Singers

Hymns, Grief, and a Native Culture in Motion

Michael D. McNally

Religion in America

The Ojibwe of Anishinaabe are a native American people who were taught by 19th-century missionaries to sing evangelical hymns translated into the native language both as a means of worship and as a tool for eradicating the "indianness" of the native people. Rather than Americanizing the people, however, these songs have become emblematic of Anishinaabe identity. In this book, Michael McNally uses the Ojiwbe's hymn-singing as a lens to examine how this native American people has creatively drawn on the resources of ritual to negotiate identity and survival within the structures of colonialism. Drawing on both archival research and fieldwork, he traces the historical development of ritualized singing and how this distinctive practice has come into play at various moments in Ojiwbe history. This important study reexamines the contested nature of "tradition," arguing that despite its origins hymn-singing has now become "traditional" through the agency of today's elders, who have asserted their role as cultural critics on the reservation through their singing.