The Assassination of Hole-in-the-Day by Anton Treuer (Borealis, 2010)

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This is a superbly researched, deftly written history of what is now known as Minnesota and the Native people of that region, the Ojibwe. Hole-in-the-Day (the Younger) was a young upstart who claimed authority of all the Ojibwe people of Minnesota, much to the chagrin of the traditional leaders of the communities.

Although he promoted himself as the civil, religious and war leader of all the Ojibwe – and he did the deeds to prove himself – his recognition came at a cost of anger from contemporaries. His tactics, however, did help solidify him as the de facto leader in treaty negotiations, raids and community endeavours.

The years that he was alive, 1827-1867, were chaotic for Native people all over North America. The American push for land was forceful and agencies would typically stop at nothing to get their way. Hole-in-the-Day realized this and positioned himself as a firebrand, forcing Americans to give in to his demands, while at the same time enabling traditional Ojibwe leaders to be seen as more level-headed.

Ultimately, his flirtation with power in both cultures lead to his death. Conspirators, greedy for the land of his people, shot him dead on his way to Washington, leaving a leadership vacuum in the midst of (usually) immoral and fraudulent land grabs by businessmen, traders and settlers.

The future was written and generations of people have suffered, despite the efforts of Hole-in-the-Day to eke out a sovereign nation for his Ojibwe people.

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