Just Too Much of an Indian: Bill Baker, Stalwart in a Fading Culture

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9781934690055: Just Too Much of an Indian: Bill Baker, Stalwart in a Fading Culture
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This unique biography documents the twentieth-century life of drum-maker and singer Bill Bineshi Baker Sr., a stalwart keeper of Ojibwe traditional ways in changing times. In this rare and insightful book, Thomas Vennum captures the essence of one Ojibwe life. Through memories and letters, Bill Baker comes alive and teaches us what we have almost forgotten--the meaning and practice of Ojibwe traditions. The story unfolds in the context of many of the events and movements relevant to Indians in the twentieth century: the boarding school disasters, land allotments, world wars, AIM, the takeover of the Winter dam, the spear-fishing controversy, and the reality of tribal factions. Woven throughout are essential native practices: wild-ricing, sharing the fruits of hunts, naming ceremonies, burials, powwows, and native crafts such as beading and drum making. Especially poignant is the portrayal of reservation iife, the reality of which many Americans cannot or will never see.

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About the Author:

Thomas Vennum is senior ethnomusicologist emeritus of the Office of Folklife Programs, Smithsonian Institution. His previous works include The Ojibwe Dance Drum, Wild Rice and the Ojibway People, American Indian Lacrosse, and Lacrosse Legends of the First Americans. He lives summers on Madeline Island, Wisconsin, and winters in Tucson, Arizona.

Review:

“It is a wonderful thing that [Vennum is] doing for Bill Baker. . . . If anyone should know the most about the overall aspects of this life, [he is] the one.”—Gene Begay, Nee-gah-nee-gah-boh (Spiritual Leader), Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe

“In this rare and insightful book, Thomas Vennum captures the essence of one Ojibwe life. Through memories and letters, Bill Baker comes alive and teaches us what we have almost forgotten: the meaning and practice of Ojibwe tradition. The story unfolds in the context of many of the events and movements relevant to Indians in the twentieth century: the boarding school disasters, allotment, the World Wars, AIM, the takeover of the Winter Dam, the spear-fishing controversy, the reality of tribal factions. Woven throughout are essential native practices: wild ricing, sharing of the fruits of a hunt, a naming ceremony, powwows. Especially poignant is the portrayal of reservation life. The realities of which many Americans cannot or never will see.”—Theresa Schenck (Blackfeet Nation and Ojibwe), American Indian Studies and Folklore Programs, University of Wisconsin–Madison, biographer of Ojibwe historian William W. Warren

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Vennum, Thomas
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