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Bravery and the Sound of Thunder

October 17, 2016

A new book by Brian McInnes, Sounding Thunder, tells the story of bravery and community service.

A new book by Brian McInnes, Sounding Thunder, tells a virtually unknown story about his great-grandfather, Francis Pegahmagabow.

McInnes is an assistant professor in the UMD Education Department and an enrolled member of the Wasauksing First Nation near Parry Sound, Ontario, Canada.

Published by Michigan State University Press in the United States, the book tells how Pegahmagabow enlisted at the onset of the First World War and served overseas as a scout and sniper. For his acts of bravery, Pegahmagabow became Canada’s most decorated Indigenous soldier, and remains the most accomplished sniper in North American military history.

After WWI, Pegahmagabow (1889-1952), who was an Ojibwe of the Caribou clan, returned to the Georgian Bay and took up the fight for Indigenous rights. He was a member of the Brotherhood of Canadian Indians, an early national Indigenous political organization, and served a term as Supreme Chief of the National Indian Government, retiring from office in 1950.

The stories featured in Sounding Thunder are presented in their original Ojibwe as well as English translation. In the book, McInnes merges Ojibwe oral history, historical record, and family stories to paint a more complete picture of Francis Pegahmagabow and his legacy as a bona fide North American hero. Sounding Thunder is presently being adopted in both secondary school and university-level programs in both the United States and Canada.


Joseph Boyden, author of Three Day Road and The Orenda, says, “Sounding Thunder is brilliant, a vital Anishinaabe story as well as a grand North American legend come to life on the page. Brian McInnes offers the reader both a deeply engaging oral history and an important historical record, and in doing so, he gifts us a significant piece of this puzzle that we call Canada.”

Bob Goulais, author of the Anishinaabe Blog, had praise for Francis Pegahmagabow. "He wasn’t just a warrior who stood up to protect his people during war-time," says Goulais, "He was a role model and true public servant in many ways. He used his bravery and courage far beyond the battlefield for the benefit of his community and all Anishinaabeg people."

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