In this day and age, history is not only written by conquerors – and a new book proves it.
The Ziibiwing Center of Mt. Pleasant, Mich. has published a book called “Diba Jimooyung: Telling Our Story.” It is scheduled to be released today.
The book is the first of its kind to document the history of the Anishinabe people from a tribal perspective, said Charmaine Benz, spokeswoman for the Ziibiwing Center.
“It gives a history of our tribe from pre-contact to current times and has a spiritual reference to the seven prophecies,” Benz said. She added that the prophecies describe the tribe migrating from the East Coast to southern Canada through the St. Lawrence seaway.
The term Anishinabe refers to Native Americans of the Great Lakes and southern Canada and means “the first man lowered down (from the Creator).”
It refers to the Odawa, Ojibwa and Bottowatomi tribes, also known as the “Three Fires.”
Central Michigan University History Prof. Benjamin Ramirez contributed to the book.
“It stems from a major concern and that is to bring Native history in from the margins of written history,” Ramirez said. “We need to acknowledge in the historical record the place the Anishinabe people have always held in our own culture.”
The University’s libraries, which have ordered copies of the book, currently hold about 14,700 books on Native Americans. The collection includes biographies and books on origins, antiquity and history of native tribes.
The new book includes sections on the arrival of Europeans, the treaties made with them, and the modern situation of Native Americans.
Benz said many contemporary histories, which were written by Europeans, portray the Anishinabe as “uncivilized, stupid, ignorant and savage people.”
Benz said the book will convey a different perspective.
“The current (history) is all from the colonizers’ point of view, but this history is from our point of view and tells how we saw what happened to us,” she said.
She added the book talks about treaties that were not honored and the “crooked Indian agents” who worked out relations between the tribes and colonizers.
The book consolidates written as well as oral histories of the Anishinabe, which Benz said has been largely neglected by most historians.
“Oral histories, like native languages, are not to be diminished because they are every bit as complex and maybe even more,” Ramirez said.
He added that the Guinness Book of World Records lists the Ojibwa language as one of the most complex in the world.
The 161-page book was an eight-year project involving the collaboration of tribal members, Native American historians and others.
LSA sophomore Casey Kasper said the book will serve an important purpose in the Native American community.
“It’s very important for the history of native people to be written down because there’s not a lot that’s taught about it,” Kasper said. “I’m really glad that stuff out there is being published. It’s very important to know these things and share them with others.”