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Saving a way of life

Professor and Public History Director Ted Karamanski, PhD, tells the story of a father and son who protect the citizenship of the Odawa people of Northwest Michigan and bring the Catholic faith to their land and culture in his new book, Blackbird’s Song: Andrew S. Blackbird and the Odawa Indians.

After 10 long years of researching to get the information needed to write the book, and having written two other books in the process, Karamanski couldn’t be more excited to see this project completed and in publication.

“I used to be a consultant to the State of Michigan, and there was litigation in court about Indian treaty rights. I was called to testify, which meant I couldn’t publish my findings on that specific matter, and I wanted to find another way to use the research,” explains Karamanski. “Blackbird’s story was a good way to make good use of the research and information I had found on the subject.”

Andrew J. Blackbird sought to give a voice in 1887 to his people through his landmark book History of the Ottawa and Chippewa People. Blackbird helped the Great Lakes people fight to retain their land and culture with military resistance and by claiming the tools of citizenship. Karamanski’s book reflects on the experiences of the Odawa people and tells a story of one of their greatest advocates.

“Since this was a 19th-century story, it was very hard to find people to interview. I did find a source of someone who was from 1920s who personally knew Andrew Blackbird, which was very helpful,” says Karamanski. “I had to take the bits and pieces of information that I had gathered from all over the midwest from places like Ohio, Chicago, Wisconsin, and Michigan and put them together to tell the story of Andrew Blackbird and his father and how they managed to bring about transition to avoid removal.”

With such a rich history, the Odawa people and their historical homeland are brought to life in this book.

“I think what makes this book unique is that it’s a story of Indian lives that were not in constant violent conflict with the United States,” concludes Karamanski. “Too often books are about the warrior chief, and this book is about how people used Christianity and diplomacy to save a way of life.”

To purchase the book, click here.

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