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Catalog Archive / Fall 2019

Ojibwe, Activist, Priest
The Life of Father Philip Bergin Gordon, Tibishkogijik

“The turn of the twentieth century was such a pivotal time for Native people, a time when Native communities were losing their children and their land and reforming their identities. Situated during this important time, Father Philip Gordon’s story provides helpful details about this period of transition. His biography is a welcome addition to works about prominent Native Americans of the era.”
—Patty Loew, Center for Native American and Indigenous Research at Northwestern University

Born in Wisconsin, Philip Bergin Gordon—whose Ojibwe name Tibishkogijik is said to mean Looking into the Sky—became one of the first Native Americans to be ordained as a Catholic priest in the United States. Gordon’s devotion to Catholicism was matched only by his dedication to the protection of his people. A notable Native rights activist, his bold efforts to expose poverty and corruption on reservations and his reputation for agitation earned him the nickname “Wisconsin’s Fighting Priest.”

Drawing on previously unexplored materials, Tadeusz Lewandowski paints a portrait of a contentious life. Ojibwe, Activist, Priest examines Gordon’s efforts to abolish the Bureau of Indian Affairs, his membership in the Society of American Indians, and his dismissal from his Ojibwe parish and exile to a tiny community where he’d be less likely to stir up controversy. Lewandowski illuminates a significant chapter in the struggle for Native American rights through the views and experiences of a key Native progressive.


Author Photo. Tadeusz Lewandowski is an associate professor and head of the department of American literature and culture at the University of Opole in Poland. He is the author of Dwight Macdonald on Culture: The Happy Warrior of the Mind, Reconsidered and Red Bird, Red Power: The Life and Legacy of Zitkala-Ša.

Author's Website -




“Illuminates a little-known figure with a mixed legacy in the history of Indian self-determination.”
Madison Magazine

“This biography of Gordon adds insight to previous works about Native people during the era in question and adds another layer that seems to be lacking in some of them—examining this time period through the lens of a Native American priest, who played a fairly prominent role at times in the Society of American Indians, and worked with key political actors.”
—Brady DeSanti, Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe, University of Nebraska at Omaha

“An exceedingly humane account of Philip Gordon’s life that convincingly argues for his relevance. . . . Lewandowski is able to draw a clear connection between the goals of Indigenous progressives like Gordon in the early twentieth century and the later, more radical ideas found in the Red Power movement and in the American Indian Movement.”
—Middle West Review



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Ojibwe, Activist, Priest: Cover showing the profile of a man wearing military uniform. The image is tinted brown, giving it an aged look.

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November 2019
LC: 2019014991 E
208 pp. 5.5 x 8.5
14 b/w photos

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Casebound $28.95 A
ISBN 9780299325206
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