Spirit of the Ojibwe

Spirit of the Ojibwe

Images of Lac Courte Oreilles Elders

by Sara Balbin, Thelma Nayquonabe and James R. Bailey

Foreword by Kimberly Blaeser

Published by: Holy Cow! Press

240 Pages, 8.00 x 10.00 in

  • Paperback
  • 9780982354506
  • Published: July 2012


"These extraordinary portraits of Ojibwe elders convey the warmth, the kindness, the humor, and the ongoing endurance of our people. What a thoughtful celebration!"—Louise Erdrich

Spirit of the Ojibwe is an intimate gathering of oral biographies and stunning color portraits of thirty-two Lac Courte Oreilles Indian elders painted by artist Sara Balbin.

Their tribal history, told in story and image, is a compelling tale of how one people courageously adapted and triumphed over cultural oppression, broken government treaties, and the deliberate flooding of their reservation by the Wisconsin–Minnesota Power & Light Company.

First settled in the Lac Courte Oreilles region of northwestern Wisconsin in the 1740s, the Lac Courte Oreilles tribe is today one of the most progressive native groups in the United States. This is a people who still live close to nature's rhythms, and these stories reveal their tribal history, traditions, migrations, spiritual practices, and clan structure. The tribal elders are keepers of knowledge and never stop teaching.

Sara Balbin is a Cuban-born visual artist who has for the past thirty years painted portraits of Ojibwe elders from the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians. She operates Dragonfly Studio in the township of Drummond, Wisconsin.

Thelma Nayquonabe is an Ojibwe and Tribal member of the Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation. She is currently the Early Childhood Education Program director and instructor at the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe Community College.

James R. Bailey was a reporter for News from Indian Country and Ojibwe Akiing. For seven years, he was the development director of WOJB, the Lac Courte Oreilles' 100,000-watt public radio station.