3-D Ojibwa?

I had a glimmer of light on my screenplay, The Life and Home of Gerbi Norberg, in 1996, when I piqued an agent’s interest by making reference in my cover letter to the assumed “teetering piles” of submissions on her desk. She liked the image and called. “Before you come down to chat, I would like you to address the title. The Life and Home of Gerbi Norberg doesn’t work, does it? You need something that will catch the audience’s attention.” I was most pliant; I arrived the next day with my newly christened Manitou island. manitou“What does that mean?”

“The Manitou are the Ojibwa spirits.”

“Spirits? That’s a start.” She scanned through the first pages. “Okay, and this. I’m not sure about these names. What’s this one? Asawsny?”

Asawasanay. He’s the spiritual leader.” I pointed out the name to follow. “And Pamequonaishcung is an elder. They’re Ojibwa.”Pamakon? Oh.” She turned the pages. “I’m not sure that’s going to work.”

“That’s what the story is about. It’s their spiritual return to the land.”

“Oh.” The meeting deteriorated from there, and there was no follow-up. I understood her point about making the story accessible, and changes of course could be made, but her approach was facile, like she expected an explosion of light. bibleI was supposed to amaze and astound, to make the sale, so that she could sell another. I balked. Eleven books later, I’m still struggling with that. (And, yes, I changed the title back to The Life and Home of Gerbi Norberg.)

9 thoughts on “3-D Ojibwa?

  1. Hi. I’m interested to know why you have chosen to use these two Ojibwe characters? Where did you get the photo of the pictographs? Were they re-created?
    I’m concerned that you are using the names of these people…they have family and descendants who would be interested to know that you are writing about them…

    • Hi Amy;

      Thanks for reading the piece. The names for the script are all derived from The Robinson Treaty – a political document that ceded control of Ojibwa lands to the Ontario government in the 1800’s. The script deals with the inherent political problems in this dismal historical episode.

  2. Thanks, but you didn’t answer my questions and I know the history. It’s not ceded territory. Do some more research and get your facts straight.

    • Hi Amy. The territories were, according to the Robinson Treaty, “surrendered, ceded, granted, and convey unto Her Majesty, her heirs and successors for ever.” I’d appreciate any relevant sources of further research, if you know of them.

      • I’m sorry but I cannot in good conscience give you further sources until you make a formal request to the family to write these pieces. It is respectful when using the name of their ancestor…It would only bring good things for you to establish connections with the families of the people you name. I have asked why you chose these two men specifically…and you have not responded. Were the men chosen at random? If you wish to discuss further, I am available via email: [email protected]

      • I think it is a mistake to rely upon the written document to determine the terms of any of the settler Indian treaties. Even the Canadian courts have realized that the oral histories of indigenous peoples must be given equal weight. Personally, I think that is a bare minimum.

        • Ms. Kennedy; I couldn’t agree with you more. The treaties do not tell the story of history. Oral histories are much more valuable. Thank you for your message.

  3. Amy;
    It is regrettable that you have such a dubious impression of my project. The use of these names is entirely based upon a historical document in the public domain. There is no disrespect of anyone in the Ojibwa nation nor any of the ancestors. I would be very happy to get into contact with anyone that might be interested in this project, which remains in the development stages.

  4. Just saw this post…
    I don’t have a dubious impression of your project. And it’s fine that the information is on the public doman. That is ASIDE from the points I was trying to make. And you didn’t answer my questions at all…about how you chose the individuals. (did you pick the names out of a hat?)

    As an Indigenous person and descendant of one of people you write about (Asa Waswanee)…what I was trying to convey is that it is respectful to establish a relationship with the families of the people you might like to write about.

    Asa Waswanee has many descendants and connecting with them would increase your chance of getting the REAL information about him (and our people/culture/politics/etc) rather than fictional. My cousins were intrigued to learn about this piece and are looking for follow up from me after I informed them about your work…I sent you an email address that you could use to connect with me if you so choose to…it is again: [email protected]

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