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A Little History of My Forest Life

The autobiography of a Chippewa-Scots woman from Madeline Island in Lake Superior. The child and grandchild of fur traders, Eliza Morrison describes Metis culture, and her travels by boat, dog sled, and on foot. She gives a 19th-century woman’s view of the Wisconsin Death March, the Dream Dance, Native marriage and burial customs, making maple sugar, and the Chippewa-Dakota War.


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A Unique and Historic Narrative

Written in 1894 and recently recovered from the archives of the University of Minnesota, this autobiography tells the story of a Chippewa-Scots-French woman from Madeline Island in Lake Superior. The child and grandchild of fur traders, Eliza Morrison describes her family’s starving time on their homestead, and her travels by boat, dog sled, and on foot. Métis culture comes alive as Native American lore blends with homesteading stories, giving a 19th century-woman’s view of the Wisconsin Death march, the Dream Dance, Indian marriage and burial customs, making maple sugar, and the Chippewa-Dakota War. She relates two never-before-recorded Indian stories, complete with songs.

What the Reviewers Say

Ontario Historical Society
“A comprehensive collection of traditional and contemporary Great Lakes Native literatures—stories, songs, poetry, speeches, autobiography, and fiction—enriched by music, visual arts, and a historic timeline.”

Thunder Bay Chronicle Journal
“An utterly absorbing book, a compelling read.”

The Grand Rapids Press
“The book holds an important place in the literature of the Great Lakes. . . .”

Traverse City Record Eagle
“For anyone interested in Great Lakes history, this book is not to be missed.”

Wisconsin Trails
“A fascinating work on several levels: as a personal narrative, as a historical document, and as a window into an all-but-unknown world.”

Minnesota History
“Brehm . . . wanted to preserve the [voice of the] original manuscript. . . . She does this beautifully while adding background information about Ojibwe history and culture.”

The Utne Reader
“Victoria Brehm brings her story to light using the letters Morrison wrote. . . .”

Social & Behavorial Sciences
“A great contribution to understanding the forgotten Métis of the Great Lakes. . . .”

Wisconsin Magazine of History
“Brehm’s scholarship provides valuable linguistic guides and historical context. . .”

Midwest Book Review
“It is almost impossible to put down once you begin it.”