Maude Kegg

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Maude Kegg
Born Naawakamigookwe
(1904-08-26)August 26, 1904
Crow Wing County, Minnesota, United States
Died January 6, 1996(1996-01-06) (aged 91)
Minnesota, United States
Nationality Ojibwa
Known for Beadwork, storytelling
Notable work When I Was a Little Girl (1976), At the End of the Trail (1978), What My Grandmother Told Me (1983), Portage Lake: Memories of an Ojibwe Childhood

Maude Kegg (Ojibwa name Naawakamigookwe, meaning "Centered upon the Ground Woman"; 1904–1996) was an Ojibwa writer, folk artist, and cultural interpreter. She was a member of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, located in east-central Minnesota.

Early life[edit]

She was born as Maude Ellen Mitchell in a bark wigwam during the Manoominike-giizis (or "Ricing Moon"), which occurs in August, in 1904 in Crow Wing County, Minnesota near Portage Lake, a few miles northwest of Mille Lacs Lake. Her parents were Charles Mitchell, a member of the non-Removable Mille Lacs Indians of the Adik-doodem, and his wife, Nancy Pine. Maude was named after her maternal uncle Gichi-Mizko-giizhig, otherwise known as George Pine. As a child she lived with her aunts Mary and Sara Pine, her father, her grandmother and her grandmother's brother, and her uncle and his wife.[1]

Due to the death of her mother either in childbirth or soon afterwards, Maude Mitchell was raised by her maternal grandmother, Margaret Pine, (also known in Ojibwe as Aakogwan).

She learned English from her aunts and white neighbors at an early age.[2]

During the winter her would live in a house, but otherwise followed the traditional seasonal cycle of the Minnesota Anishinaabeg. In the spring they would move to iskigamiziganing, or the sugar bush. In summer they set camp by the wild rice fields. They travelled by foot, horse, or birch bark canoes.

Kegg chose her own birthdate as August 26 since the exact date of her birth was not known.

She finished eighth grade at the local county Esdon school.

She met Martin Kegg at a Midewiwin ceremony in 1917.[3] They married in 1920 in a traditional Indian manner, and again in 1922 in a church ceremony. They moved in 1942 to Shah-bush-kung Point on Mille Lacs with their children, and again in 1960 to a point more inland. Martin Kegg died in 1968.[4]


In 1968 Kegg began working as a guide at the Trading Post and Museum, which is now part of the Minnesota Historical Society.

Kegg herself was not a writer but rather dictated her stories to others, notably John Nichols, who transcribed the stories into both English and Ojibwe. In "Portage Lake" Kegg relates her memories from her childhood working with her female relatives.

She preserved many traditions of the Ojibwe from agricultural techniques, such as how to harvest and process wild rice of the northern lake area and maple sugaring. She was one of the last masters of the Ojibwe language and contributed special Ojibwe terms and language data to linguists, especially in the form of the Concise Dictionary of Minnesota Ojibwe, published in 1995.[5][6]

Kegg told many of her stories to John D. Nichols who transcribed and translated her works, which were published in Ojibwe and English.[7]

Kegg worked for the Minnesota Historical Society at Mille Lacs for many years. She acted as a docent and tour guide, and helped create a large diorama of Ojibwe seasonal life.

She has shown pieces in the Smithsonian Institute's craft collection. The American Federation of Arts touring exhibition "Lost and Found: Native American Art, 1965-1985." showcased one of her beaded bandoliers.

She was skilled in beadwork. She was able to create traditional fully beaded traditional bandolier bags, which were traditionally worn by tribal leaders.[8]


Minnesota Governor Rudy Perpich honored Maude by declaring August 26, 1986, as "Maude Kegg Day" for the State of Minnesota. In 1990, she was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in recognition of her effort to preserve Ojibwe language, traditions, stories, culture, and crafts.[9]


She died in January 1996, aged 91.


  • Gabekanaansing = At the end of the trail: memories of Chippewa childhood in Minnesota with texts in Ojibwe and English. University of Northern Colorado (Greeley, CO: 1978).
  • Nookomis Gaa-Inaajimotawid: What My Grandmother Told Me with texts in Ojibwe (Chippewa) and English. Bemidji State University (Bemidji, MN: 1990).
  • Ojibwewi-Ikidowinan: An Ojibwe Word Resource Book. Minnesota Archaeological Society (St. Paul, MN: 1979). Edited by John Nichols and Earl Nyholm.
  • Portage Lake: memories of an Ojibwe childhood. University of Minnesota Press (Minneapolis: 1993).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kegg, Maude. "Portage Lake: Memories of an Ojibwe Childhood". 
  2. ^ Kegg, Maude. "Portage Lake: Memories of an Ojibwe Childhood". 
  3. ^ ""Maude Kegg, Naawakamigookwe"". Voices From the Gaps. 
  4. ^ Kegg, Maude. "Portage Lake: Memories of an Ojibwe Childhood". 
  5. ^ Doerfler, Jill (February 2013). American Indian Studies: Centering Anishinaabeg Studies: Understanding the World through Stories. Michigan State University Press. ISBN 9781611860672. 
  6. ^ Nichols, John D. (December 1994). Concise Dictionary of Minnesota Ojibwe. University of Minnesota Press. 
  7. ^ Congdon, Kristin G. (19 March 2012). American Folk Art: A Regional Reference [2 volumes]: A Regional Reference. Retrieved 9 March 2017. 
  8. ^ Strom, Karen M. "Kegg Bandolier Shoulder Strap Overview". Bandolier Bags. Retrieved 9 March 2017. 
  9. ^ "NEA National Heritage Fellowships: Maude Kegg". Retrieved 28 February 2017. 

External links[edit]