The Ojibway Indians’ sense of humor sparkles through these stories set on the fictional Moose Meat Point Indian Reserve, connected by a dirt road to the town of Blunder Bay. If some of them seem “far-fetched and even implausible,” Basil L. Johnston writes, “it is simply because human beings very often act and conduct their affairs and those of others in an absurd manner.
These twenty-two stories were originally collected under the title Moose Meat and Wild Rice. Among the most memorable of the stories is “They Don’t Want No Indians,” in which all attempts are made to circumvent bureaucratic red tape in order to transport a dead Indian to his home for burial. One of the funniest is “Indian Smart: Moose Smart,” which pits a moose in a lake against six Moose Meaters in two canoes. “If You Want to Play” and “Secular Revenge” play on misunderstanding and imperfect communication. Still other stories, like “What Is Sin?” and “The Kiss and the Moonshine,” reveal the clash of different cultural approaches. All show the warm heartedness and good will of the Ojibway Indians. If they are gently satirized, so are the whites who would change them, and with good reason. Government ineptitude and rigid piety are foisted on the Moose Meaters, who have only thirty thousand acres to move around in.
Basil Johnston is an Ojibway who was born on the Parry Island Indian Reserve.
188 pp — ©1978