Detail of book cover for "Manitowapow: Aborginal Writings from the Land of Water." The painting is "The Creation of the World" by Daphne Odjig, which stands in the Manitoba Museum.
Manitowapow: Aboriginal Writings from the Land of Water is a
anthology of Indigenous Manitoban writings that weaves the past to the
present through lush storytelling, poetry, speeches and works of
SCENE, being the apropos site that we are, asked editor and contributor Warren Cariou to provide some insight as to how Manitowapow came to fruition.
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For me, stories have always been about community. They link people together in a shared experience, and they often teach us how to see things from different perspectives.
In Aboriginal traditions, stories are the keeping-places of each community's knowledge, the source of collective wisdom. In today's complex world, stories take many different forms than they did in earlier generations, but I firmly believe they perform the same functions in our communities: they teach us how to be who we are, and they help us to understand our world.
The works collected in Manitowapow are perfect examples of this.
They are vivid, compelling, sometimes hilarious, often poignant, and always infused with a sense of commitment to the land and to community. I hope the book will open many people's eyes to the richness of our Aboriginal cultures here in Manitoba, and I hope it will help to strengthen those communities as well.
The book is a celebration of the Anishinaabe, Cree, Métis, Dene, Sioux and Inuit people of this place, who have persevered through many terrible obstacles in order to tell their stories, to show the world who they are. "We are here," these stories say. "We will always be here."
I am not originally from Manitoba, so for me the process of working on Manitowapow has been a way of learning more about this place and its people. Together with my co-editor Niigaanwewidam and our team of student researchers at the University of Manitoba, we made many discoveries.
We learned about writers and stories that had been unjustly forgotten. We re-read work by some of our favourite writers and saw their words in a new way. Bringing all of these stories together in one book has been a powerful, moving experience for me. I have gained a new appreciation for this place and for the rich diversity of people who reside here. It has made me realize that I am at home here too. I have been welcomed by the stories.
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Edited by Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair and Warren Cariou, the anthology will be released February 3rd by HighWater Press. In conjunction with it's release there will be a book launch starting at 7:30 pm, followed by a reception and book signing in the Tower Atrium at the Forks Market.
Tune in to hear more about Manitowapow on Information Radio here.
Warren Cariou was born in Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan, into a family of mixed Metis and European heritage. He is a Canada Research Chair in Narrative, Community and Indigenous Cultures at the University of Manitoba, where he also directs the Centre for Creative Writing and Oral Culture.