26 / CHRONICLESnabsence from her doctoral studies innurban and regional planning at MIT,nShkilnyk first visited the Grassy NarrowsnIndian Reserve (in Western Ontario)nin 1976 as a consultant for thenCanadian Department of Indian Affairs.nSix years earlier scientists discoverednsevere methyl mercury pollutionnof the English-Wabigoon River system,nthe river that was crucial to thenlivelihood of the Ojibwa people on thenreserve. The author was unpreparednfor what she found there. The methylnmercury poisoning, it turns out, wasnonly “the last nail in the coffin” (as hern•Ojibwa informants liked to say), onlynthe most recent of a string of shocksnthat began with the flu epidemic ofn1919 and continued into recent historynwith the creation of residentialnschools, the destruction of traditionalnreligion, and the 1962 relocation ofnthe entire group from the old reserve tonthe new.nWhat Shkilnyk found that cold Novembernafternoon in 1976 was a communityndisintegrating into the mostnhorrible nightmare of “homelessness.”nIn this small community of less thann600, where everyone was related bynblood or marriage, she found a relentlessnpattern of personal violence, destructiveness,nalcoholism, suicide,ngang rape, incest, child abuse, childnabandonment, and child neglect. Thenstatistics are staggering, but whatnstruck the author most was the “numbnessnof human spirit” she found atnGrassy Narrows. These were, writesnShkilnyk, “a truly broken people.”nThe author relies upon anthropology,npsychology, sociology, and economicsnto discover what happened tonbring this community to such a state.nWith the help of native informantsnand anthropologists’ monographs,nShkilnyk reconstructs what was thenvital culture of these Ojibwa until then1962 relocation. First, these peoplenhad a deep attachment to their placenand to nature’s rhythms. Second, theynheld great respect for the dignity of thenindividual. And, third, they valued thenindependence and self-sufficiency ofnthe clan-based family group.nThe family was the fundamentalneconomic unit of the Ojibwa, relyingnupon the winter trapline. With fewnpublic institutions above the familynunit, it was this home world of thenfamily that provided the individualnidentity and support. The traditionalnethos strongly valued sharing and mutualnaid. The extended family alsonprovided the rituals—the naming ceremony,nthe vision quest, the marriagenceremony, the funerary rituals—thatnsustained Ojibwa identity. There werenno social classes or distinctions on thenold reserve, no voluntary organizations,nno community groups, no organizednchurches. The traditionalnOjibwa valued autonomy and individualism.nAll this changed with the 1962nmove to the new reserve. The physicalnrelocation stood for the larger publicnpolicy, so-called “community development,”nsustained by an ideology ofnmodernization and committed to thenexpansion of social welfare and thenintegration of native people into Canadiannlife. White policymakers had alreadynset things in motion decadesnearlier with the creation of residentialnschools. For the schools meant thatnfamilies could no longer be out on thenwinter traplines, and with the demisenof the traplines came the demise of annentire pattern and ethos of selfsufficiency.nNew rules for trapping,nfishing, and the harvesting of wild ricenin the late 1940’s altered forever theneconomic autonomy of the community,nand the 1963 building of a roadnconnecting the new reserve with thennearest white town intensified Indian/nwhite contact and racism.nThe responsibilities of the communitynleaders, who previously were idealnrole models of the Ojibwa, changednwith the emergence of bureaucrats onnthe reserve. More importantly, thenstrong traditions of self-help, sharing,nand mutual aid decayed into a patternnof dependency upon paternalistic outsiders.nAnd there emerged social inequalityndistinguishing those who hadnsteady jobs in the bureaucracy fromnthose who were on the dole. The ethosnof sharing transformed into an ethos ofnindividual accumulation. The mercurynpoisoning of 300 miles of rivernsystem by Dryden Chemicals, Limited,ndestroyed commercial fishing andnguiding, the last base for communityneconomic independence, to say nothingnof destroying the symbolic meaningnof the river to the Ojibwa.nWomen, especially, were “victims ofnmodernization” in this tragic story.nThey lost their power as producers andnnnbecame passive consumers, actuallynexpendable in the new society. Thenalcoholism, violence, suicide, rape,nand child neglect Shkilnyk witnessednon the reserve were the visible evidencenof the social pathology of thisnculture turned topsy-turvy.nSadly, the Ojibwa knew what wasnhappening to them but had no solutionsnto their dilemma. The nativencouncil repeatedly requested work programs,nbut the government continuednthe welfare system largely because itnwas simpler and cheaper to go with theninertia of the bureaucracy. The Ojibwanhad made a Faustian bargain, tradingntheir independence for limited materialnbenefits. Seventy-eight percentnof the Ojibwa polled said they weren”not happy spiritually.” What is leftnfor them is not only a culture ofnpoverty and dependence but the uncertaintynof the medical consequencesnof the mercury poisoning of their immediatenenvironment. And the Canadianngovernment seems to the authornto be fundamentally incapable of dealingn”holistically with a shatterednsociety.”nSo what is to be done? In hern”postscript” Shkilnyk invokes an aptnmetaphor as she speaks to the Ojibwa:n”If the external enabling conditionsnconstitute the firewood for the renewalnof a people, then the spark to light thatnfire has to come from within. Thenspark is the process by which a humannbeing becomes conscious of the responsibilitynhe bears for his own destiny.”nPhilosophically, adds the author,n”they have come to understand that anslave is also a man who’ waits fornsomeone else to come and free him.”nShkilnyk as much makes this affirmationnof human freedom and responsibilitynfor her modern readers as fornher native clients, for she sees GrassynNarrows as a microcosm of the destructivenprocesses of modernization.nWe modern Americans are experiencingnthe same pathologies of violence,nillness, suicide, family breakdown,nchild abuse, alcoholism, and drugnabuse intensified in that small communitynthat suflFered so many catastrophes.nIrhese are the costs of modernity:n”the loss of our moorings in faith andntradition; the loss of a sense of connectionnwith the earth; alienation fromnmeaningful work; and separation fromna nurturing family and communal set-n