Friday, January 21, 2011

Rainy River Lives: Stories Told by Maggie Wilson

By Tanya Fox

As a cataloger, I understand the seriousness of misplacing or losing an item in our archives.  Once something is mis-shelved it is often difficult, if not impossible, to find.  Sometimes serendipity steps in and while retrieving a different requested item the missing item appears.  So it is with a collection of stories between Maggie Wilson and Ruth Landes compiled into a book called Rainy River Lives: Stories Told by Maggie Wilson published by University of Nebraska Press and edited by Sally Cole.

Maggie Wilson sent letters and stories to anthropologist Ruth Landes over many years but over the course of time, the correspondence was lost.  Recently, the stories were found in the basement of the Smithsonian Institute in another anthropologist’s papers.  This “rich set of narratives takes us inside the intimate world of Ojibwe families at the turn of the twentieth century, a time of great upheaval when the Ojibwes were being relocated onto reserves and required by the government to abandon their seasonal migrations and subsistence activities.”

Rainy River Lives is a recent acquisition of the Clarke Historical Library.  We are delighted to add it to our Native American collection.  According to the author Lawrence Block, “One aspect of serendipity to bear in mind is that you have to be looking for something in order to find something else.”  Come to the Clarke and see what you can find.