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ERIC Number: EJ787788
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2003
Pages: 15
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0161-6463
Windigo Ways: Eating and Excess in Louise Erdrich's "The Antelope Wife"
Tharp, Julie
American Indian Culture and Research Journal, v27 n4 p117-131 2003
The cautionary figure of windigo has lurked at the edges of Louise Erdrich's writing since her first collection of poems in 1984. In "The Antelope Wife" it finally emerges into full view. A windigo is defined as a cannibalistic monster set loose by human greed, envy, and jealousy. Traditional Ojibwe windigo stories usually focus on the starving time of winter when food is in short supply and anyone taking more than their share effectively eats into the bodies of those around them. These cautionary tales strive to impress upon their listeners the absolute need for balance and self-restraint in human relations, as in human interaction with the natural world. This study explores the use of the traditional windigo tale in "The Antelope Wife," in which Erdrich provides a strong case for the relevance of Ojibwe philosophy to present-day mainstream U.S. culture. The central theme of eating and food, the setting of Gakahbekong or modern-day Minneapolis, and the presence of windigo characters, all contribute to a meditation on the social ills of overconsumption. (Contains 23 notes.)
American Indian Studies Center at UCLA. 3220 Campbell Hall, Box 951548, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1548. Tel: 310-825-7315; Fax: 310-206-7060; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A