|Native American Stories and Songs||
Eddie Benton Banai / Ojibwe from Hayward, Wisconsin
Eddie Benton Banai is a fullblood Ojibwe and a member of the Midewiwin Lodge. He grew up in what was once an Ojibwe village along the shores of Round Lake just outside of Hayward, Wisconsin. Eddie says, “I was never without the sound of the drum, without the sound of music, since before my birth I began to hear the drum, even as I was in my mother’s womb.” Eddie has lived many lives in this single one.
He was born in a lodge, or wigwam, lived in a village that knew little about material goods but was never hungry. In his youth he was active in the American Indian Movement (AIM) and was present during the occupation of Wounded Knee village in 1973. He also has a degree in education and a master's degree in business. Eddie is both an educated, modern man and a traditional Ojibwe man. Besides his many activities, he also writes prose and poetry.
The north central area of the United States is a wooded, watery land with lakes left behind by glaciers millions. The forests are rich with berries, natural vegetation and wildlife. It is here that the Ojibwe people lived, gathering the abundant offerings of this land.
The Ojibwe are one of the largest tribal groups in North America. The many bands and tribes of the Ojibwe are scattered across several states, with large populations living in Canada as well. While widely scattered, the largest populations of Ojibwe people are in the Great Lakes region in the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. Several other bands live in Montana, with a single group living in South Dakota. Eddie Benton Banai comes from the Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation near Hayward, Wisconsin.
Both in oral histories and in anthropological studies, the Ojibwe were said to have come from the east coast, migrating over the lands and settling in the Great Lakes area perhaps five hundred years ago. They were once a single nation and linked to the Ottowas and the Potawatomis. Their first reported contact with the Europeans was with French explorers in the 1600’s.
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