In this study, Theresa S. Smith explores the lived experience of the contemporary Ojibwes (or Anishnaabeg) amid the remarkable revival of both belief in and practice of the Ojibwe religion. Scholars have contended that traditional Ojibwe religion was gradually lost during the three centuries following Euro-American contact. And yet even though traditional religion longer exists as a plausibility structure for a hunting-gathering culture, historic and contemporary accounts and a revival in the arts attest to the changing and vital nature of Ojibwe religion. The Island of the Anishnaabeg is a nuanced look at traditional Ojibwe religion and its structure, interpretation, and revival among contemporary Ojibwes. The Ojibwe life-world, as experienced and described through religious symbols, beliefs, and practices, is alive with the presence of other-than-human people, kwn as manitouk. This book is the first thorough and systematic interpretive treatment of the relationship between Thunderers and Underwater manitouk. Smith's work reveals the Thunderers and Water monsters as determinative beings and symbols in the Ojibwe world and explores how their relationship inscribes a dialectic that both reflects the lived reality of that world and helps to determine the position and existence of the human subject in it.
Theresa S. Smith is a professor of religious studies at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.