Drawing on the traditional ways of Anishinaabe storytelling, acclaimed poet Gerald Vizenor illuminates the 1898 battle at Sugar Point in Minnesota in this epic poem. Fought between the Pillagers of the Leech Lake Reservation (one of the original five clans of the Anishinaabe tribe) and U.S. soldiers, the battle marked a turning point in relations between the government and Native Americans. Although out-numbered by more than three to one, the Pillager fighters won convincingly.
Weaving together strands of myth, memory, legend, and history, Bear Island lyrically conveys a historical event that has been forgotten not only by the majority culture but also by some Anishinaabe people—bringing back to light a key moment in Minnesota’s history with clarity of vision and emotional resonance.
Gerald Vizenor is professor of American studies at the University of New Mexico. He is a member of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, White Earth Reservation. His previous books include The People Named the Chippewa and Griever, for which he won an American Book Award.
Jace Weaver is professor and director of the Institute of Native American Studies at the University of Georgia.