Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Fall 2004


Published in Great Plains Research Vol. 14, No. 2, 2004. Copyright © 2004 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


This volume is a critical historiography of the nature and meaning of the Midewiwin as it was, and still is, practiced by southwestern, western, and northern Anishinaabeg (Ojibwa or Chippewa) in both Canada and the United States. A self-described "culturally sensitive outsider," Angel has approached his subject from an interdisciplinary perspective, drawing heavily from religious studies and historic and ethnographic documentation. The origins and functions of the Midewiwin are examined within the contexts of Anishinaabeg religion and society. Angel takes issue with the classification of the Midewiwin as a "revitalization movement" or a "crisis cult" by demonstrating that the "essential elements" of the Midewiwin were elaborations of traditional beliefs and practices. He argues that the roles of traditional healers, diviners, and healing ceremonies became more "complex" as the Anishinaabeg struggled with new challenges to their world following contact with European newcomers.