John Beargrease: Legend of Minnesota’s North Shore

Nov 15th, 2009 | By | Category: 21-2: K-12 Education, Winter 2009, Media Reviews

By Daniel Lancaster.

Holy Cow! Press, Duluth (2008)

Review by Holly Ristau

John Beargrease: Legend of Minnesota’s North ShoreIn the 1800s, John Beargrease was an Ojibwe mail carrier who ran a twice-weekly route on Minnesota’s North Shore. Today, mushers attempt to run his same route in the annual John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon.

This title is a desperately needed, well-researched book that reads like an adventure instead of a bare “facts-anddates” biography that would normally fit into college, public, and high school libraries. The book includes extensive notes, a bibliography, and black-andwhite photos but lacks maps and some of the pictures referred to within the text.

But two things about the otherwise very good book make me uncomfortable – when the author guesses how John must have felt and when the author shares Nanaboozhoo stories, which are traditionally only supposed to be shared during the winter months.

My solution? I will be adding this title for my libraries, but it will only circulate as tradition dictates.

Holly Ristau is the library director at the White Earth Tribal and Community College and the K-12 librarian of Mahnomen Public Schools in Mahnomen, MN.

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