Centering Anishinaabeg Studies

Understanding the World Through Stories

Jill Doerfler (Editor), Heidi Kiiwetinepinesiik Stark (Editor), Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair (Editor)

For the Anishinaabeg people, who span a vast geographic region from the Great Lakes to the Plains and beyond, stories are vessels of knowledge. They are bagijiganan, offerings of the possibilities within Anishinaabeg life. Existing along a broad narrative spectrum, from aadizookaanag (traditional or sacred narratives) to dibaajimowinan (histories and news)—as well as everything in between—storytelling is one of the central practices and methods of individual and community existence. Stories create and understand, survive and endure, revitalize and persist. They honor the past, recognize the present, and provide visions of the future. In remembering, (re)making, and (re)writing stories, Anishinaabeg storytellers have forged a well-traveled path of agency, resistance, and resurgence. Respecting this tradition, this groundbreaking anthology features twenty-four contributors who utilize creative and critical approaches to propose that this people’s stories carry dynamic answers to questions posed within Anishinaabeg communities, nations, and the world at large. Examining a range of stories and storytellers across time and space, each contributor explores how narratives form a cultural, political, and historical foundation for Anishinaabeg Studies. Written by Anishinaabeg and non-Anishinaabeg scholars, storytellers, and activists, these essays draw upon the power of cultural expression to illustrate active and ongoing senses of Anishinaabeg life. They are new and dynamic bagijiganan, revealing a viable and sustainable center for Anishinaabeg Studies, what it has been, what it is, what it can be.


Centering Anishinaabeg Studies is a pathbreaking book that features fascinating contributions from many of the finest scholars working in the field today. Ranging widely across methodological perspectives and the breadth of the Anishinaabeg world, this book is indispensable for the field and a model for future work in Indigenous Studies.”

– Jean M. O’Brien, University of Minnesota

“An extraordinary collection of essays and stories that deepen the lengthy, richly substantive scholarship of their people in Canada and the US.”

– R. Welburn, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Choice Magazine

“Doerfler, Sinclair, and Stark have ushered in a new era of Anishinaabeg scholarship. Their collection of stories, by some of the most creative and insightful Anishinaabeg thinkers, celebrates the intellectual diversity of contemporary Indigenous thought.“

– Dale A. Turner (Temagami First Nation), Dartmouth College

“In their selection, organization, and presentation of contents, the editors of Centering Anishinaabeg Studies have maintained a quality of scholarliness that parallels that time-honored tribal pedagogy of storytelling by which the Anishinaabeg have endeavored to live good lives while seeking knowledge and understanding of the world since mewinzhaa, a long time ago.”

– Linda Legarde Grover (Bois Forte Band of Ojibwe), University of Minnesota–Duluth, Great Plains Quarterly

“Doerfler, Sinclair, and Stark structured their collection to do decolonizing work; both content and form validate Anishinaabeg worldviews. “

– Brittany Luby, Laurentian University, Canadian Journal of History

Centering Anishinaabeg Studies is an anthology that deserves high praise for its unique approach to the study of stories, treating stories not as a dead part of Anishinaabe heritage but as an active power, which opens new possibilities for survivance in the complexities of the constantly changing world. This anthology reclaims cultural, intellectual, and educational sovereignty necessary for the continued existence of the Anishinaabeg as peoples in the land that is rightfully theirs.”

– Anna Krausová, Charles University, The American Indian Culture and Research Journal

“The wide-ranging nature of this collection means that it will be useful not just to scholars of Anishinaabeg studies and literary studies, but also those interested in Indigenous studies, political studies, environmental studies, Education, law, and history. It is a truly interdisciplinary collection.”

– Judith Leggatt, Lakehead University, The Canadian Journal of Native Studies

“For many non-Indigenous peoples in Canada and the United States, the stories that shape our lives are normalized as truth, while Indigenous stories, such as those discussed in Centering, are designated as simple, primitive, and historical myth. However, as Doerfler, Sinclair, Stark, and the excellent contributors to this volume show, Anishinaabe stories are not merely entertainment; they are active, living beings in Anishinaabe culture, life, and identity.”

– Carrie Louise Sheffield, University of Tennessee (Knoxville), The American Indian Quarterly

“In their introductory essay to Centering Anishinaabeg Studies, editors Jill Doerfler, Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair, and Heidi Kiiwetinepinesiik Stark state their major goal as creating dialogue across academic disciplines. This is the strength and major contribution of this work.”

– Erik Martin Redix, University of Minnesota Duluth, Western Historical Quarterly

About the Authors

Jill Doerfler (White Earth Anishinaabe) is Assistant Professor of American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota–Duluth.

Heidi Kiiwetinepinesiik Stark (Turtle Mountain Anishinaabe) is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Victoria.

Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair (Anishinaabe) is the co-editor (with Warren Cariou) of the best-selling anthology Manitowapow: Aboriginal Writings from the Land of Water. He is an Assistant Professor at the University of Manitoba and a performer, writer, and father.

Other contributors: Kimberly Blaeser, John Borrows, Lindsay Keegitah Borrows, Jill Doerfler, Heid E. Erdrich, Matthew L. M. Fletcher, Eva Marie Garroutte, Basil H.Johnston, James Mackay, Edna Manitowabi, Molly McGlennen, Cary Miller, Dylan A. T. Miner, Melissa K. Nelson, Margaret Noori, Brock Pitawanakwat, Thomas Peacock , Julie Pelletier, Keith Richotte Jr., Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair, Heidi Kiiwetinepinesiik Stark, David Stirrup, Gerald Vizenor, Kathleen Delores Westcott

Book Details

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