Posted by John Ester on May 22, 2018
Robert Downes, author of the acclaimed "Windigo Moon," described life for the Ojibwe Indians in the early times.
Robert Downes began his writing career as a journalist, founding and running the Northern Express weekly for 22 years before winning first prize at Art Prize and becoming a novelist. While "Windigo Moon" is fiction, Downes' research for the work included fifty books by anthropologists.
Around 1500 the Ojibwe were well established in the Upper Great Lakes, with a population approaching 100.000. They were hunters and gatherers who liked to live on the water (perhaps moving toward and away from shore to avoid flies in areas like the UP, thinks Downes). Then European nations began visiting, bringing with them typhus, measles, hepatitis and small pox. Thus when colonists arrived in 1620 expecting to find native homes, they instead found bones, more than half of the native population having been wiped out.
The Ojibwe were all about sharing; they were communists in the true sense of the word. The worst thing for an Ojibwe was to be cast off from the clan, as there was then no way to exist in the afterlife. They were never conquered.
Bob Downes highly recommends visiting the Ojibwe Museum in St. Ignace. Included in the collection there is an Ojibwe Migration Chart reflecting the tribe's movement to the west.
In crafting his award-winning novel Robert Downes clearly achieved mastery over a fascinating subject.