The Round House

Mooshum (which is the word in Anishinaabe for “grandfather”) is Joe's grandfather, who lives with Joe’s aunt and uncle Clemence and Edward in their house. Although Mooshum is quite elderly, he still enjoys some youthful pursuits, such as drinking whiskey when Clemence will allow him and receiving a lap dance from Sonja on his birthday. Mooshum, who was brought to the Chippewa reservation with his Métis family after the Battle of Batoche in the late 1800s, has a wealth of knowledge about Chippewa culture and religion, and younger members of the tribe often consult him for advice. It is Mooshum who tells Joe the story of Nanapush, the buffalo mother, and explains to him wiindigoo justice. Mooshum shows the value of elders on the reservation. He represents a body of knowledge about Chippewa culture that, although diminishing, is being kept alive by members of the younger generation.

Mooshum Quotes in The Round House

The The Round House quotes below are all either spoken by Mooshum or refer to Mooshum. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Women, Bigotry, and Sexual Violence Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Harper Perennial edition of The Round House published in 2013.
Chapter 1 Quotes

I was parsing out the idea, established in other cases and reinforced in this one, that our treaties with the government were like treaties with foreign nations. That the grandeur and power my Mooshum talked about wasn’t entirely lost, as it was, at least to some degree I meant to know, still protected by the law.

Related Characters: Joe Coutts (speaker), Mooshum
Page Number: 2
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 8 Quotes

As he dragged himself along … Nanapush sang the buffalo song although it made him cry. It broke his heart. He remembered how when he was a small boy the buffalo had filled the world. Once, when he was little, the hunters came down to the river. Nanapush climbed a tree to look back where the buffalo came from. They covered the earth at that time. They were endless. He had seen that glory. Where had they gone? … people had seen white men shoot thousands off a train car, and leave them to rot.

Related Characters: Mooshum (speaker), Joe Coutts, Nanapush
Page Number: 184-185
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 9 Quotes

It was true, however, that Mooshum had still been a child when his family left behind their neat cabin, their lands, their barn and sweet water well, and fled Batoche after Louis Riel was caught and sentenced to be hanged. They came down over the border, where they were not exactly welcomed with open arms. Still, they were taken in by an unusually kind-hearted chief who told the U.S. government that maybe it threw away its half-breed children and gave them no land, but that the Indians would take these children into their hearts.

Related Characters: Joe Coutts (speaker), Mooshum
Page Number: 201
Explanation and Analysis:
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I lay awake thinking of the place on the hill, the holy wind in the grass, and how the structure had cried out to me. I could see a part of something larger, an idea, a truth, but just a fragment. I could not see the whole, but just a shadow of that way of life.

Related Characters: Joe Coutts (speaker), Mooshum
Related Symbols: The Round House
Page Number: 215
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 11 Quotes

Behind them in the next room the shelves of old books stood… Meditations. Plato. The Iliad. Shakespeare… There was William Warren, Basil Johnston, The Narrative of the Captivity and Adventures of John Tanner, and everything by Vine Deloria Jr… I looked at the books as if they could help us. But we had moved way far past books now into the stories Mooshum told in his sleep. There were no quotations in my father’s repertoire for where we were, and it was beyond me at the time to think of Mooshum’s sleeptalking as a reading of traditional case law.

Related Characters: Joe Coutts (speaker), Mooshum, Geraldine, Bazil
Page Number: 307
Explanation and Analysis:
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Mooshum Character Timeline in The Round House

The timeline below shows where the character Mooshum appears in The Round House. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter One: 1988
Storytelling, Formality, and Writing Theme Icon
Parenthood, Foster Families, and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Land, the Judicial System, and Justice Theme Icon
...reads and thinks that the “grandeur and power” of the Chippewa people that his grandfather, Mooshum, talks about has not been totally lost because it was legally protected. (full context)
Parenthood, Foster Families, and Coming of Age Theme Icon
...judge. Joe walks with his father to his aunt Clemence and Edward’s house. Joe’s grandfather Mooshum, who is very elderly, also lives with them. Joe and Bazil borrow Clemence’s car and... (full context)
Chapter Two: Lonely Among Us
Women, Bigotry, and Sexual Violence Theme Icon
...dinner. Joe goes to get a pie from Clemence for dessert. At Clemence’s house, Whitey, Mooshum, and Clemence are sitting around drinking iced tea. Clemence, who is caring for Mooshum in... (full context)
Women, Bigotry, and Sexual Violence Theme Icon
The men return to discussing the rape, but quickly stop when they remember Joe’s presence. Mooshum asks Whitey to tell him about “Red Sonja,” referring to Sonja’s old stripping persona, which... (full context)
Chippewa Tradition vs. Catholicism Theme Icon
...Joe asks what he should do about it, and Randall tells him to talk to Mooshum, because he had a bad feeling about the vision. (full context)
Chapter Four: Loud as a Whisper
Women, Bigotry, and Sexual Violence Theme Icon
Chippewa Tradition vs. Catholicism Theme Icon
...religious ceremonies, and people would pretend they were going to Bible study there. According to Mooshum, there was actually one Catholic priest at the time who partook in the Chippewa religious... (full context)
Chapter Seven: Angel One
Chippewa Tradition vs. Catholicism Theme Icon
One morning, Joe rides to Edward and Clemence’s house. When Joe arrives, he finds Mooshum outside, tangled in netting for the garden. Joe frees him and they go inside, where... (full context)
Chapter Eight: Hide and Q
Women, Bigotry, and Sexual Violence Theme Icon
...instead of with Geraldine. Joe asks if he can sleep in the extra bed in Mooshum’s room, and Clemence says yes, but warns Joe that Mooshum talks in his sleep. Joe... (full context)
Chippewa Tradition vs. Catholicism Theme Icon
Storytelling, Formality, and Writing Theme Icon
Mooshum’s story is offset from the rest of the narrative by a title, “Akii.” The story... (full context)
Chippewa Tradition vs. Catholicism Theme Icon
Storytelling, Formality, and Writing Theme Icon
Mooshum suddenly stops talking, and Joe is upset that he has not heard the story’s ending.... (full context)
Chippewa Tradition vs. Catholicism Theme Icon
Storytelling, Formality, and Writing Theme Icon
Parenthood, Foster Families, and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Mooshum returns to Nanapush, who had just begun his journey to look for the buffalo. Nanapush... (full context)
Women, Bigotry, and Sexual Violence Theme Icon
Land, the Judicial System, and Justice Theme Icon
With the story finished, Mooshum goes back to sleep. Joe also falls asleep and forgets the story until the next... (full context)
Chapter Nine: The Big Good-bye
Parenthood, Foster Families, and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Land, the Judicial System, and Justice Theme Icon
Joe describes Mooshum’s childhood, beginning with his conception during a berry-picking camp and his birth during the 1885... (full context)
Parenthood, Foster Families, and Coming of Age Theme Icon
This year, at his annual party, Mooshum sits outside with Grandma Ignatia and Joe. Mooshum and Grandma Ignatia banter raunchily about sex... (full context)
Storytelling, Formality, and Writing Theme Icon
...Clemence and Edward take pictures as Joe’s cousins Joseph and Evey carry the cake to Mooshum. Mooshum tries to blow out the candles, but cake catches fire, which then catches onto... (full context)
Women, Bigotry, and Sexual Violence Theme Icon
Joe sits with Mooshum, who is smiling widely at the excitement. Joe knows that the party will go on... (full context)
Chippewa Tradition vs. Catholicism Theme Icon
Land, the Judicial System, and Justice Theme Icon
Joe sleeps in the same room as Mooshum. He wakes up in the middle of the night to Mooshum telling a new story.... (full context)
Women, Bigotry, and Sexual Violence Theme Icon
Parenthood, Foster Families, and Coming of Age Theme Icon
...and uncle take a trip to get a new freezer. When Joe wakes up, only Mooshum is in the house. Joe asks Mooshum what he wants to do that day, and... (full context)
Women, Bigotry, and Sexual Violence Theme Icon
Parenthood, Foster Families, and Coming of Age Theme Icon
...hid. Sonja is shocked and then becomes extremely sad. She asks Joe “really?” Joe grabs Mooshum’s whiskey bottle and takes a swig. Sonja tells Joe that if he says anything about... (full context)
Women, Bigotry, and Sexual Violence Theme Icon
Storytelling, Formality, and Writing Theme Icon
Parenthood, Foster Families, and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Mooshum, thrilled and overwhelmed, stops breathing. Sonja lifts him onto his cot and checks for his... (full context)
Women, Bigotry, and Sexual Violence Theme Icon
Parenthood, Foster Families, and Coming of Age Theme Icon
...but now knows he is just another bad man. Sonja leaves and Joe sits with Mooshum for a long time. Joe feels guilty about his choice to blackmail Sonja and watch... (full context)
Women, Bigotry, and Sexual Violence Theme Icon
...her hometown. Cappy then divulges that they did “everything” in the graveyard the night of Mooshum’s birthday, and now he is heartbroken that she is gone. Cappy tells Joe that he... (full context)
Chippewa Tradition vs. Catholicism Theme Icon
...Joe says he could have talked to his dad or to Randall, but Cappy grins. Mooshum, having heard the story, compliments Father Travis’s running abilities as he eats lunch. (full context)
Chippewa Tradition vs. Catholicism Theme Icon
Land, the Judicial System, and Justice Theme Icon
Mooshum then tells the boys about when he outran a wiindigoo named Liver-Eating Johnson. Some Blackfeet... (full context)
Women, Bigotry, and Sexual Violence Theme Icon
When Mooshum finishes his story, he changes the subject to Sonja. Clemence tells Joe that Sonja left... (full context)
Chapter Eleven: The Child
Chippewa Tradition vs. Catholicism Theme Icon
...Out loud, Joe says that he needs Ojibwe medicine. Joe would like to talk to Mooshum about it, but Mooshum is now so old that he’s hardly conscious. Joe thinks he... (full context)