Basil Johnston


The Manitous

"An extraordinary glimpse into a rich and meaningful mythology"

HarperCollins US/95
Key Porter CAN/95
Minnesota Historical Society Press/Reissue 2001


The Spiritual World Of The Ojibway

A major work, this is the first discussion by a Native scholar of the mysteries represented by manitous, totems, weendigoes and other spirits in Ojibway belief.

The Ojibway or Chippewa refer to themselves as Anishinaube, or "the good beings." Sharing the same language and beliefs are groups known as Algonquin, Ottawa and Pottawatomie, which together form the largest or second largest aboriginal nation north of Mexico.

Drawing on rich Ojibway legends and tales, Johnston illustrates how these stories reflect Ojibway understanding of human nature.

Leading from a description of Kitchi-Manitou or The Great Mystery which presents the Ojibway notion of God, Johnston brings in the delightful, all-too-frail aspects of human nature personified in the four Manitous, the sons of the West Wind and Winonah.

Like the Bible, these express a code for moral behaviour which Johnston illuminates with liveliness and depth.

Basil Johnston is the foremost writer and scholar of Ojibway and native life. His seven books include Ojibway Ceremonies, Ojibway Heritage, Moose Meat and Wild Rice, and Indian School Days, all in print in Canada and the U.S.

His boyhood memoir, Indian School Days was hailed by Louise Erdrich who wrote: "Both a dark tale of assimilation at its most hypocritical and a hilarious account of an irrepressibly energetic boy thrust into a stern world where wit and humour become the means to survival... It is a work to further the understanding and enrich the heart."