The story of a once vibrant, now vanished off-reservation Ojibwe village—and a vital chapter of the history of the North Shore
At the turn of the nineteenth century, one mile east of Grand Marais, Minnesota, you would have found Chippewa City, a village that as many as 200 Anishinaabe families called home. Today you will find only Highway 61, private lakeshore property, and the one remaining village building: St. Francis Xavier Church. In Walking the Old Road, Staci Lola Drouillard guides listeners through the story of that lost community, reclaiming for history the Ojibwe voices that have for so long, and so unceremoniously, been silenced.
Blending memoir, oral history, and narrative, Walking the Old Road reaches back to a time when Chippewa City, then called Nishkwakwansing (at the edge of the forest), was home to generations of Ojibwe ancestors. Drouillard, whose own family once lived in Chippewa City, draws on memories, family history, historical analysis, and testimony passed from one generation to the next to conduct us through the ages of early European contact, government land allotment, family relocation, and assimilation.
Documenting a story too often told by non-Natives, whether historians or travelers, archaeologists or settlers, Walking the Old Road gives an authentic voice to the Native American history of the North Shore. This history, infused with a powerful sense of place, connects the Ojibwe of today with the traditions of their ancestors and their descendants, recreating the narrative of Chippewa City as it was—and is and forever will be—lived.