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Passage to freedom

African Americans fleeing slavery often used the waterways of the Great Lakes region to travel toward safety and freedom in Canada.

In The Great Lakes: Love Song and Lament, a special issue of the Michigan Quarterly Review, recently named MacArthur Fellow and U-M Professor Tiya Miles writes about those waterways – particularly the Ohio River and the Great Lakes themselves –and how they facilitated the movement of the fleeing slaves as well as cross-cultural interactions with the Native Americans who sometimes helped them.

Please see “Of Waterways and Runaways: Reflections on the Great Lakes in Underground Railroad History.”

MQR’s Great Lakes issue opens with two contemporary poems in the language of the Ojibwe, Anishinaabemowin, written by Margaret Noori, a lecturer in the Native American Studies program.  To read the poems in their original and in English translation, click here.

To hear Professor Noori perform the poems in Anishinaabemowin, click here and here.

For more information about the Great Lakes issue and the Michigan Quarterly Review or to order copies of the journal, please visit

— Submitted by Vicki Lawrence, managing editor Michigan Quarterly Review