Think Indian is a collection of essays by Basil Johnston, one of Kegedonce’s most beloved and prolific writers. Originally published in 2011, Think Indian has been reprinted this year.
Johnston was an author, elder, cultural philosopher, historian, teacher, university lecturer, and linguist. He was awarded the Order of Ontario in 1989 for his work in preserving Ojibwe/Anishinaabe culture. He was also awarded the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada Medal in 1992, the Ontario Arts Council Aboriginal Arts Award in 2003 and the National Aboriginal Achievement Award for Heritage and Spirituality in 2004. He passed away at age 86 in 2015.
In Think Indian, Johnston eloquently argues that understanding a people and their culture is very much dependent on understanding their language. For the Anishinaabek themselves, preserving their language and gaining fluency in it is a matter of knowing themselves.
While described as a collection of essays, the chapters of this book flow from history and reflections on language into the deeply moving legends of the Anishinaabek. They therefore preserve story and culture, as well as the insights of a remarkable elder, author, and educator. Think Indian confidently straddles the line between non-fiction and fiction, education and mythology.
Think Indian is a truly enjoyable and informative read, and a vital contribution to the preservation of Anishinaabe culture.
Read a review in Canadian Literature here.