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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.

Maude Kegg
Native name
Maude Ellen Mitchell

(1904-08-26)August 26, 1904
DiedJanuary 6, 1996(1996-01-06) (aged 91)
Minnesota, United States
Known forBeadwork, 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 (1991)
AwardsNational Heritage Fellowship

Early lifeEdit

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.[1] 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.[2]

Due to the death of her mother in childbirth, Maude Mitchell was raised by her maternal grandmother, Margaret Pine, (also known in Ojibwe as Aakogwan).[3]

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

During the winter her family 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.[1][3]

She finished eighth grade at the local county Esdon school, and was the only Native child to attend the school.[1]

She met farm worker Martin Kegg at a Midewiwin ceremony in 1917.[4] 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.[2] Together they had eleven children.[1]


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 D. Nichols, who transcribed the stories into both English and Ojibwe.[5] 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.[6][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, making every artifact in the exhibit.[3]

She was exceptionally skilled in beadwork, and was a master of Ojibwe floral designs and geometric loom beadwork techniques.[3] She was able to create fully beaded traditional bandolier bags, which were commonly worn by tribal leaders.[8]

She has shown pieces in the Smithsonian Institution's craft collection. The American Federation of Arts touring exhibition "Lost and Found: Native American Art, 1965-1985." showcased one of her beaded bandoliers.[1][3]

Awards and honorsEdit


She died on January 6, 1996 at age 91.[9]


  • 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 alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e "Kegg, Maude (Ellen Mitchell) 1904-1996". Gale. 2009. Retrieved 30 December 2017.
  2. ^ a b c Kegg, Maude (1991). Nichols, John D. (ed.). Portage Lake: Memories of an Ojibwe Childhood. Edmonton, Alberta, Canada: University of Alberta Press. ISBN 9780888642172. OCLC 28219245.
  3. ^ a b c d e Govenar, Alan (2001). "Maude Kegg: Native American Storyteller and Craftswoman (Ojibwe)". Masters of Traditional Arts: A Biographical Dictionary. vol. 2 (K-Z). Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-Clio. pp. 334–336. ISBN 1576072401. OCLC 47644303.
  4. ^ Thomas, Kathleen M.; Mahoney, Parnell (1998). "Maude Kegg, Naawakamigookwe". Voices From the Gaps, University of Minnesota Digital Conservancy. Retrieved 30 December 2017.
  5. ^ Congdon, Kristin G.; Hallmark, Kara Kelley (2012). American Folk Art: A Regional Reference [2 volumes]. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. ISBN 9780313349362. OCLC 721891434. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  6. ^ Nichols, John D.; Nyholm, Earl (1995). Concise Dictionary of Minnesota Ojibwe. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 9780816624270. OCLC 31242698.
  7. ^ Doerfler, Jill; Sinclair, Niigaanwewidam James; Stark, Heidi Kiiwetinepinesiik (2013). Centering Anishinaabeg Studies: Understanding the World through Stories. American Indian Studies. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press. ISBN 9781611860672. OCLC 804144726.
  8. ^ Strom, Karen M. (1996). "Kegg Bandolier Shoulder Strap Overview". Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  9. ^ a b "NEA National Heritage Fellowships: Maude Kegg". National Endowment for the Arts. Retrieved 28 February 2017.

External linksEdit