From the 1870s to the 1930s, the Lake Superior Ojibwes of Minnesota
and Wisconsin faced dramatic economic, political, and social
changes. Examining a period that began with the tribe's removal to
reservations and closed with the Indian New Deal, Chantal Norrgard
explores the critical link between Ojibwes' efforts to maintain
their tribal sovereignty and their labor traditions and practices.
As Norrgard explains, the tribe's "seasonal round" of
subsistence-based labor was integral to its survival and identity.
Though encroaching white settlement challenged these labor
practices, Ojibwe people negotiated treaties that protected their
rights to make a living by hunting, fishing, and berrying and
through work in the fur trade, the lumber industry, and tourism.
Norrgard shows how the tribe strategically used treaty rights
claims over time to uphold its right to work and to maintain the
rhythm and texture of traditional Ojibwe life.
Drawing on a wide range of sources, including New Deal–era
interviews with Ojibwe people, Norrgard demonstrates that while
American expansion curtailed the Ojibwes' land base and
sovereignty, the tribe nevertheless used treaty-protected labor to
sustain its lifeways and meet economic and political needs--a
process of self-determination that continues today.