Ninoontaan/I Can Hear It: Ojibwe Stories from Lansdowne House


224 pages
Contains Maps, Bibliography
ISBN 0-921064-14-4
DDC 497'.3




Edited by Edited and translated by John O'Meara
Reviewed by Ronald R. Henry

Ronald Henry is Director of the School of Translators and Interpreters,
Laurentian University.


This collection of seven Ojibwe legends and three stories narrated by
Cecilia Sugarhead, formerly from Lansdowne House on Attawapiskat Lake in
Northern Ontario, will be enjoyed by those interested in the oral
tradition of the Anishnabae.

The legends recount life lessons and are based on universal themes.
“The Dog and the Squirrel” is reminiscent of the Aesop’s Fable,
“The Ant and the Grasshopper.” Less familiar to Western readers is
“The Legend of Aayaash.” In this legend of Cree origin, the hero
fights adversity with the help of a giant serpent and a fox.

Originally written in syllabics, the tales were transcribed into roman
orthography and translated into English by editor John O’Meara in
consultation with the author. The book includes notes on syllabics and
alphabetic writing, as well as bilingual glossaries of relevant
terminology. O’Meara states that the “translations are at best
approximations” and that, in editing the original, he added/deleted
words and reorganized sentences. Such an approach unfortunately obscures
the relevance of the original text. More elaboration of the
“approximations” of this “linguistic translation” would have
been welcome.

Nevertheless, Ninoontan is a welcome addition to the growing body of
Native literature for scholars and students of Ojibwe language and


Sugarhead, Cecilia., “Ninoontaan/I Can Hear It: Ojibwe Stories from Lansdowne House,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 13, 2024,