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Recollections of a Forest Life

The Life and Travels of Kah-ge-ga-gah-bowh

By George Copway
Afterword by Deanna Reder
Subjects Biography & Autobiography, Indigenous Studies, History, Canadian History
Series Early Canadian Literature Hide Details
Paperback : 9781771124461, 200 pages, November 2024

Table of contents



A Word to the Reader

1. Early life and Pursuits

2. Indian Sufferings

3. The Indian Gods

4. Belief in Omens

5. Indian Traditions

6. Description of Rice Lake

7. First Visit of the Missionaries to the Ojibway Nation

8. Visit to a Camp Meeting with my Father

9. Journey to the Ka-we-we-non Mission

10. Perilous Voyage to La Pointe

11. Narrow Escape of Rev. John Clarke of Being Drowned

12. Arrival at Rice Lake

13. Kindness of the Indians

14. Presbyterian Missionaries

15. General Council

16. Geographical Sketch of the Ojibway Nation

17. Address before the Legislature of Pennsylvania in Favor of the Plan for Giving the Indians a Permanent Home between the Nebraska and Minnesota Territories

18. Letters of the Author and Notices of the Public Press

Afterword - Deanna Reder

First book written by an Indigenous author in Canada


The first book published by an Indigenous author in Canada is George Copway’s Life, History, and Travels of Kah-ge-ga-gah-bowh (1847), in which he offers an autobiographical account of his life and experiences, details the changing landscape of his homeland, recounts Ojibwe customs, traditions, and history, and critiques settler society’s exploitation of Indigenous people and territory. Copway’s autobiography was incredibly successful: it went through seven editions within a year of its publication and was expanded and republished in 1850 under the title Recollections of a Forest Life.

This edition features an afterword by Deanna Reder and will compare the differences between early versions of this classic, as a way to think through discussions that are still pertinent today including: the editing history of Indigenous texts; culturally appropriate reading strategies; the influence of Indigenous epistemologies, and in this case Anishnaabe-specific worldviews; and the ways in which autobiography was and continues to be a preferred Indigenous intellectual tradition.

Also included in this volume is information about George Copway as a member of the Nineteenth Century Ojibway literary coterie, in the context of his ancestors, his peers, and the work of Anishinaabe writers today.