William W. Warren: The Life, Letters, and Times of An Ojibwe Leader

Synopsis

This is the first full-length biography of William W. Warren (1825–53), an Ojibwe interpreter, historian, and legislator in the Minnesota Territory. Devoted to the interests of the Ojibwe at a time of government attempts at removal, Warren lives on in his influential book History of the Ojibway, still the most widely read and cited source on the Ojibwe people. The son of a Yankee fur trader and an Ojibwe-French mother, Warren grew up in a frontier community of mixed cultures. Warren's loyalty to government Indian policies was challenged, but never his loyalty to the Ojibwe people. In his short life the issues with which he was concerned included land rights, treaties, Indian removal, mixed-blood politics, and state and federal Indian policy. Theresa M. Schenck has assembled a remarkable collection of newly discovered documents. Dozens of letters and other writings illuminate not only Warren's heart and mind but also a time of radical change in American Indian history. These documents, combined with Schenck's commentary, provide historical and contextual perspective on Warren's life, on the breadth of his activities, and on the complexity of the man himself; as such they offer a useful and long-awaited companion to Warren's History of the Ojibway.