The Stories of Francis Pegahmagabow
Francis Pegahmagabow (1889–1952), a member of the Ojibwe nation, was born in Shawanaga, Ontario. Enlisting at the onset of the First World War, he became the most decorated Canadian Indigenous soldier for bravery and the most accomplished sniper in North American military history. After the war, Pegahmagabow settled in Wasauksing, Ontario. He served his community as both chief and councillor and belonged to the Brotherhood of Canadian Indians, an early national Indigenous political organization. Francis proudly served a term as Supreme Chief of the National Indian Government, retiring from office in 1950.
Francis Pegahmagabow’s stories describe many parts of his life and are characterized by classic Ojibwe narrative. They reveal aspects of Francis’s Anishinaabe life and worldview. Interceding chapters by Brian McInnes provide valuable cultural, spiritual, linguistic, and historic insights that give a greater context and application for Francis’s words and world. Presented in their original Ojibwe as well as in English translation, the stories also reveal a rich and evocative relationship to the lands and waters of Georgian Bay.
In Sounding Thunder, Brian McInnes provides new perspective on Pegahmagabow and his experience through a unique synthesis of Ojibwe oral history, historical record, and Pegahmagabow family stories.
- WINNER, Fred Landon Award, Ontario Historical Society (2018)
- WINNER, American Book Award, Before Columbus Foundation (2017)
- NOMINEE, Canadian Aboriginal History Prize, Canadian Historical Association (2017)
“Debwemigad Nimkiig gaye Aadizookanag zhawenimaawaad. Brian McInnes has clearly been blessed by the Thunders and Great Storytellers. With Sounding Thunder he has achieved the perfect balance of personal memoir and scholarly inquiry. He shares with readers the stories that have connected one generation to another and in these cycles we find the truth about living. Dibaajimowinan omaada’oozhinang mii igo aanikoobijige.”
– Margaret Ann Noodin, Assistant Professor, Department of English, University of Wisconsin
“This uniquely intimate portrait illuminates Francis’s commitment to live in a way that reflected the spiritual values of sharing and respect for life, despite his military record of 378 enemy kills for which he became renowned.”
– Allyson Stevenson, University of Guelph, Canadian Journal of History
“More than 20 years in the writing, Brian D. McInnes’s Sounding Thunder is an extraordinary book.”
– Tanya H. Lee, Indian Country Today (Link)
“McInnes’ Sounding Thunder brings complexity and nuance to the story (or stories) of Francis Pegahmagabow’s life. Past authors have portrayed Pegahmagabow alternatively as a warrior, a veteran, and/or a political activist. Certainly, these depictions capture snapshots of his character. But McInnes goes much further, adding breadth and depth to the sketch of the Nishnaabe man from Georgian Bay. He has produced a high-quality piece of historical research that tells an important story of Indigenous peoples as human beings with challenges that exist both within and without the constraints of colonialism.”
– Eric Story, Laurier Centre for Military, Strategic and Disarmament Studies (Link)
“Sounding Thunder is invaluable for those working in biographical, historical, Indigenous, military and political studies and the general reader. McInnes skillfully contextualizes his subject as one of Canada’s greatest war heroes as well as a member of his family, community, and Anishinaabe people.”
– Brock Pitawanakwat, Assistant Professor, Department of Indigenous Studies, University of Sudbury
“The recognition of a remarkable Canadian and Nishinaabe hero alone makes this a worthy read. Perhaps more essential is the defense and persistence of Nishinaabe culture through the incorporation of language and stories in this book.”
– Jacob C. Jurss, Studies in American Indian Literatures
“We could all benefit from a lesson in the storytelling traditions of McInnes, Wasauksing, and the Ojibwe nation. I know I have. Do yourself a favour: buy this book. Read it, enjoy it, and learn.”
– Robert J. Talbot, University of Ottawa, The Canadian Historical Review
“Brian McInnes’ book is both elegant and masterful in its weaving of language, spirituality, storytelling, family, community, and physical place on the lands and waters of Georgian Bay as he presents the world and life of his great-grandfather, Francis Pegahmagabow. McInnes’ presentation of family stories in both Ojibwe and English, and his placement of them within their historical and geographical context, underlines Waubgeshig Rice’s claim in his foreword to Sounding Thunder that the book will remain ‘a vital resource for generations to come.’”
– Jurors, Fred Landon Award, Ontario Historical Society
About the Author
Brian D. McInnes is a faculty member in the Department of Education at the University of Minnesota Duluth. A member of the Wasauksing First Nation, Brian is a great-grandson of Francis Pegahmagabow.
Other contributors: Waubgeshig Rice (Foreword)
- Sounding Thunder: The Stories of Francis Pegahmagabow
- Brian D. McInnes (Author)
- Published September 2016, 192 pages
- Paper, ISBN: 978-0-88755-824-5, 6 × 9, $24.95
- Topic(s): Autobiography, History, Indigenous Studies, Military History
- Part of the U of M Press series: Critical Studies in Native History