The Strait : Book of Obenabi. His Songs

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(1934 - 1985)
Fredy Perlman (August 20, 1934 – July 26, 1985) was an American author, publisher, professor, and activist. His most popular work, the book Against His-Story, Against Leviathan!, details the rise of state domination with a retelling of history through the Hobbesian metaphor of the Leviathan. Though Perlman detested ideology and claimed that the only "-ist" he would respond to was "cellist," his work as an author and publisher has been influential on modern anarchist thought. (From :


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A Note to the Reader: An early death kept Fredy Perlman from finishing the two-volume account of Robert Dupre’s forebears who lived on the Strait and in the surrounding woodlands. In both volumes, "Book of Obenabi. His Songs” and "Book of Robert Dupre. His Tales,” narrators recount familiar historic events as individuals indigenous to the region might have experienced them. Fredy intended to present The Strait as texts written down by Obenabi’s nephew, Robert Dupre, in the 1850s. In 1851 Obenabi presumably told (or sang) his narrative to Dupre in Detroit’s prison hospital, uncle and nephew having been jailed as conspirators who opposed construction of a railroad across Michigan. In addition to Obenabi’s songs, Robert Dupre was to be credited with preserving the tales of his aunt Wabnokwe. This history purports to be based on journals Obenabi’s sister kept throughout her life, and it const... (From :

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Prologue Early morning’s undone dream pulls me back to its activity, makes waking seem death, gives reality a fearful aura. "It’s time for your surgery, Mr. Avis,” says Madge May the nurse. I’m here as object for treatment, there’s nothing to fear, nothing supernatural; diagnosis and remedy are determined by procedures accessible to all, and what is each of us but a product at a different stage of processing, transformed by labor into a more finished if not more perfect product ? Orderlies Gabe Godfroy and Bill Wells prepare the bed on wheels, as Tom Williams the intern notes schedules and circumstances on his pad, while elsewhere the various specialists- bookkeepers, administrators, technicians, surgeons, nurses-are activated by the commander-in-chief, Dr. Cass, like an army, like meshing gears of clockwork, with an efficiency in stark contrast to my malfunctioning, inefficient bodily o... (From :

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Chapter 1. Obenabi Journey to the Beginning It was fear of the manhunters who killed my uncle Topinbi t hat roused me to travel on the path toward the morning sun from, the Bison Prairie on the long lake to the beaverlodge village on the strait. Though companioned by a horse weighed down by dead leavers, like Topinbi used to go, I did not follow the trail in Hcmrch of objects but of knowledge. I went as a scout, to learn if t he angry sun would continue to warm the lodges of his grandchildren in the Bison Prairie. As I went further east, the wide trail, its bushes removed, its trees felled, was like a scar gouged by some unfeeling beast that destroys all life on its path. I thought that by scouting I could learn why such a powerful creature insists on following paths of deer and of Rootkin who did not scar the forest. The sight of so many beings deprived of life for no reason filled me with sorrow, and at a crossing with a fam... (From :

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Chapter 2. Obenabi’s grandmothers Yahatase’s children I find myself leaning on the roundish rock by the Strait’s edge, wondering if this is the same moonless night, or the sixth since my journey began. The shadowy figure before me gives me an arrowhead and a blistered mask. The mask burns my face and I try frantically to remove it. But my arms fly wildly in front of me and reach for the arrowhead a young hunter extends to me. My mind floods with memories. I shudder remembering the corner where I huddled with my baby sister, my embracing arms protecting her from the spectacle on the longhouse floor, the frightful dance so different from any I had seen before, altogether lacking the joy and mirth I so loved in the planting and strawberry festival dances. Sister trembled and buried her face in my neck, but I looked fearlessly, attentively, at mouths twisting into the grimaces of false faces and vomiting black sa... (From :

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Chapter 3. Miogwewe Kukamigokwe I find myself alone by the strait’s edge. I expect someone to come with a mask and a gift. No one comes. By the light of early dawn I make out a pendant hanging from a low branch. Reaching for the pendant, I make out the outline of a mask by the tree’s base. It’s the mask of an ancient woman with long white hair. I put on the mask. Suddenly I recognizje the pendant. It’s the greenstone pendant Shutaha left hanging from a low branch, the pendant she made for me to replace uncle Wedasi’s gift to me. She knew how I loved my first pendant. Uncle Wedasi gave it to me soon after Chebansi returned from his first journey to Boweting with my father. He wanted to tell his mother about the journey, but she didn’t let him. She wanted to show him she loved him. She removed the arrowhead that hung from her neck and gave it to Chebansi. Then Chebansi enacted the journey for her. Aunt Yaha... (From :

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Chapter 4: Miogwewe continues Ubankiko The leaves have fallen forty-two times since the day Shutaha ran up the embankment of Bison Prairie convinced that we had reached the place her father had sought?! didn’t know what Shutaha saw. When Nopshinga and I left Bison Prairie and reached Chacapwe’s lodge on the Strait, I knew Shutaha had found her center, but I didn’t feel it as mine. When I returned to Bison Prairie with Sagikwe, I felt even further from my center. Yet now, as we bank our canoes on Kekionga’s tree-lined shore, I see as Shutaha must have seen. I recognize Kekionga as the place I’m seeking. The carryingplace between tKe eastern Lakes and the sunset, between the Strait and the valleys of the Wabash is the center where I want to remain. As soon as we arrive, my Nopshinga’s niece, fatherless Ubankiko, asks me to arrange a founding ceremony and guides me to the lodges of her village. Pyerwa beams... (From :

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Chapter 5: Katabwe Lenapi Again I find myself by the Strait’s edge, vaguely aware of a self separate from the mask, but not of a body. It’s dawn, the eighth moonless night is ending. The same shadowy figure approaches, a mask in one hand, a bundle in the other. Putting on the mask, I remember myself as Katabwe; I recognize the figure as lean Sigenak and the bundle as his brother Nanikibi’s. Eagles darken the sky, dead serpents cover the ground. This is the day I dreamed of, the day I dreaded. My dream’s eagle had swooped down on the serpents and killed them. I was a child when I dreamed; I thought the eagle was my father Mota, who had swooped down on Kekionga’s Scabeaters. When I told my dream, brother Oashi frowned, greatgrandmother Miogwewe told me I was a daughter of Serpents, he called Witchburners because they set fire to their medicine women, those who had burnt the villages of my ancestor Winamek’... (From :

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Chapter 6. Katabwe continues Namakwe In Kekionga, and at last in Bison Prairie, I was made much of, as were the other warriors who had fought on the Kanawha. We were lauded, not for our artful retreat, but for our victory ; we had dared to attack the league of Witchburners, Slavers and Cheaters, we had routed scalper Ua-shn-tn’s front lines, a feat as yet unequaled by all the Redcoat armies. The league was on everyone’s lips; its frightful coherence was the subject of every council. Unfortunately, the army that would confront the monster was slow in forming; the Peninsula’s kin lacked coherence, not because they were all guided by different visions, but because, like the Invaders, they were guided by none. Nanikibi’s sister Namakwe came to Bison Prairie with her Bati and the others who had stopped off on the Strait, including Mini and Aleshi, and with two warriors from the Turtleleague who came on a mis... (From :

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Chapter 7. Obenabi Birth and journey The baby’s cry pulled me out of my grandmother’s mask as if I were marrow that was sucked out of a bone. On the night when Sigenak, Wakaya, Isador and Aptegizhek gathered at Nizokwe’s lodge and told of the death of Nanikibi on the field of fallen trees, I was no longer in Nizokwe’s lodge, and I was no longer Katabwe. I was a tiny beginning in Namakwe’s lodge next door, shrieking alongside Cakima, kicking tiny feet and waving tiny arms. I knew nothing of what had happened, nothing of the people in Namakwe’s lodge nor of those next door. My memories would all be given to me later, when I was ready to accept the gifts. On that night I knew nothing of the spot where I lay, nothing of Tiosa Rondion on the strait between the Clear Lake and the Lake of the vanished Ehryes, nothing of the burial mounds behind Namakwe’s lodge outlined against the moonless sky by rising dawn, nothing of... (From :

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Chapter 8. Obenabi's guides Obenabi's dream Wedasi was on edge during the rest of our journey to Bison I ‘mi rie. He wanted to think well of our uncles on the Wabash, he wanted reasons to join them. If I had spoken he wouldn’t have lint,cried, but I didn’t speak. I reached back to Katabwe’s songs mid stories. I touched the objects in my bundle, I mused on my Ii rut. dreams, but I found no guidance; I didn’t know who I was or where to go. I had nothing to tell Wedasi. I stopped pondering Aptegizhek’s words as soon as I saw the In miliar riverbanks, the fruit trees I had run among with Nnnhkowatak and Mimikwe, at last the lodges of the Fire- keepers’ village. But our welcome was disappointing. Wedasi and I were not expected. Only the gifts from the Strait were expected, and only Burr-net and Cakima, Chebansi and Nesoki were on the landingplace. Our father thought we had returned so as to join Chebansi... (From :

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Chapter 9. Obenabi’s second journey The last council fire I arrived at the Leaning Tree village with my nephew Mikinak, Wedasi’s son. The council Mikinak had wanted to attend was already under way. As soon as we banked our canoe, Mikinak turned his back to me and headed toward the part of the circle where the Redearth warriors sat. I saw Shabeni on the opposite side of the circle and sat down near him. I listened to one after another Redearth warrior urge the listeners to prepare for war. I listened to the speakers on my side—old Firekeepers, northern Rootkin, Leaning Tree carriers, Shabeni among them—decline the invitation to war, ridicule the Redearth speakers, warn of the prospects of such a war. My head agreed with the councils spoken from my side, but my heart went across the fire to the Redearth warriors. I stared at the ground; I felt no pride from sitting near Shabeni. I felt like rising, not to... (From :

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Epilogue I kept on staring, waiting for the face to turn smooth, to take on the features I remembered so well. But the longer I stared, the less did that face look like Udatonte’s. My head swam as I slowly grasped that I was staring at an unfamiliar, old, blind woman, and I started to fall. An old man rose from the broken circle; his powerful hand gripped my arm and kept me from falling. He asked if I needed a sweat, a swim or an herbal potion; he called me nephew. I told him my dizziness had already passed. I studied his face but failed to recognize him. He saw my confusion and told me he was Wakaya, my uncle Meteya’s brother. He said he had not recognized me either; he had recognized the arrowhead that dangled from my neck. Leading me slowly away from the councilground, he told me he had come to the Leaning Tree gathering, as he guessed that I had, in order to throw water on the fire, in order to cool down the warriors. He said our warrio... (From :

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Glossary Beautiful River: Ohio River Bison Prairie: St. Joseph, Michigan Boweting: Sault St. Marie, Michigan Cahokia: in Illinois, across the Mississippi from St. Louis Clear Lake: Lake St. Clair Eastern River: Hudson River Easternmost Lake: Lake Ontario Great Falls: Niagara Hochelaga: Montreal Karontaen: Wyandotte, Michigan Kekionga: Ft. Wayne, Indiana Kithepekanu: Tippicanoe Kichigami: Lake Superior Lakebottom: Chicago Leaning Tree village: L’Arbre Croche, Michigan Long River: Mississippi River... (From :


1988 :
The Strait -- Publication.

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