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This site contains books by Indigenous authors that are suitable for teaching at the post-secondary level. Clicking on the cover of a book will take you to the publisher’s page. The books are tagged according to common themes within the study of Indigenous literatures in Canada. We welcome comments, feedback and suggestions!
Publisher’s description: Award-winning Nisga’a poet Jordan Abel’s third collection, Injun, is a long poem about racism and the representation of Indigenous peoples. Composed of text found in western novels published between 1840 and 1950 – the heyday of pulp publishing and a period of unfettered colonialism in North America – Injun then uses erasure, pastiche, and a focused poetics to create a visually striking response to the western genre. Though it has been phased out of use in our “post-racial” society, the word “injun” is peppered throughout pulp western novels. Injun retraces, defaces, and effaces the use of this word as a colonial and racial marker. While the subject matter of the source text is clearly problematic, the textual explorations in Injun help to destabilize the colonial image of the “Indian” in the source novels, the western genre as a whole, and the western canon.
Publisher’s description: When buffalo were many on the western Plains, when Cree and Blackfoot warred in unrelenting enmity, when the Sun Dance and the shaking tent were still a way of life—these were the days of Chief Thunderchild, who roamed the Saskatchewan Plains, fought and hunted, lived and sometimes nearly starved there. His stories of a fierce and vanished freedom are reprinted here, exactly as he told them to Edward Ahenakew in 1923. Chief Thunderchild was born in 1849 and died in 1927, four years after recounting his tales to Edward Ahenakew. In the second half of Voices of the Plains Cree, Old Keyam, a fictional character created by Ahenakew, tells stories about the changes Cree people experienced in the reserve era of the late 19th and early 20th century.
Publisher’s description: In these 14 unique stories, Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm takes on complex and dangerous emotions, exploring the gamut of modern Anishnaabe experience. Through unforgettable characters, these stories—about love and lust, suicide and survival, illness and wholeness—illuminate the strange workings of the human heart. Trailer for the book: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ilgX9Ls099U.
Publisher’s description: A heartbreaking love story set against the beauty of the north. In 1972, John Daniel, an eleven-year-old Blue Indian from Aberdeen in Canada’s Northwest Territories, and his six-year-old sister, Eva, were brought to live with a white couple in Alberta, having been removed from their parents by the Powers that Be. John promised he’d never go back. But in October 1984, at twenty-two, he broke that promise. A job with a drilling company brought him back to the land of his people, and Tina Joseph, to whom he was deeply attracted, encouraged him to confront the sad truths of his parents’ lives. In a compelling combination of storytelling and truth-telling, The Pale Indian recalls the power and passion of its predecessor, Porcupines and China Dolls. It is a novel of secrets, lies, and madness written with power and eloquence.
Publisher’s description: Anahareo (1906-1985) was a Mohawk writer, environmentalist, and activist. She was also the wife of Grey Owl, aka Archie Belaney, the internationally celebrated writer and speaker who claimed to be of Scottish and Apache descent, but whose true ancestry as a white Englishman only became known after his death. Devil in Deerskins is Anahareo’s autobiography up to and including her marriage to Grey Owl. In vivid prose she captures their extensive travels through the bush and their work towards environmental and wildlife protection. Here we see the daily life of an extraordinary Mohawk woman whose independence, intellect, and moral conviction had direct influence on Grey Owl’s conversion from trapper to conservationist. Though first published in 1972, Devil in Deerskins’s observations on indigeneity, culture, and land speak directly to contemporary audiences.
Publisher’s description: Slash is Jeannette Armstrong’s first novel. It poignantly traces the struggles, pain and alienation of a young Okanagan man who searches for truth and meaning in his life. Recognized as an important work of literature, Slash is used in high schools, colleges and universities.
Publisher’s description: NDN word warrior Marie Annharte Baker’s fourth book of poems, Indigena Awry, is her largest and wildest yet. It collects a decade’s worth of verse — fifty–nine poems. Set noticeably in Winnipeg and Vancouver, but in many other places on either side of the Medicine Line as well, the poems are a laser–eyed meander through contested streets filled with racism, classism, and sexism. Shot through with sex and violence and struggle and sadness and trauma, her work is always set to detect and confront the delusions of colonialism and its discontents. These poems are informed by a sceptical spirituality. They call for justice for NDNs through the Permanent Resistance that goes around in cities. This is bruising and exacting stuff, but Annharte is also one of poetry’s best jokers.
Publisher’s description: In her second collection of poetry, Passage, Gwen Benaway examines what it means to experience violence and speaks to the burden of survival. Traveling to Northern Ontario and across the Great Lakes, Passage is a poetic voyage through divorce, family violence, legacy of colonization, and the affirmation of a new sexuality and gender. Previously published as a man, Passage is the poet’s first collection written as a transwoman. Striking and raw in sparse lines, the collection showcases a vital Two Spirited identity that transects borders of race, gender, and experience. In Passage, the poet seeks to reconcile herself to the land, the history of her ancestors, and her separation from her partner and family by invoking the beauty and power of her ancestral waterways. Building on the legacy of other ground-breaking Indigenous poets like Gregory Scofield and Queer poets like Tim Dlugos, Benaway’s work is deeply personal and devastating in sharp, clear lines.
Publisher’s description: From one of Canada’s most exciting new Métis voices comes a book whose recurring themes include the complexities of identity, belonging/not belonging, Aboriginal adoption, loss and abandonment, regret and insecurity. A deadbeat dad tries to reconnect with his daughter after 22 years away. A selfish poet has been scarred by an upbringing that leaves him emotionally distant from his children and spouse. A pot-smoking middle-aged man undertakes a modest quest for meaning following a brush with mortality. A fourteen-year-old girl struggles to come to terms with her feelings of abandonment. At the centre of the stories are notions of identity and belonging, and the complex relationships between children and parents, both those who are real and those who are just pretending.
Publisher’s description: Rita Bouvier’s third collection of poetry is a response to the highs and lows of life and represents an attempt at restoring order through embracing others, reconciling the traumas caused by the deep scars of history, and soaring beyond life’s awkward and painful moments in order to live joyfully. Inspired by the metaphor of a voyageur sustained by song on his journeys up and down the rivers of Northwest Saskatchewan, these “wordsongs for the seasons” draw heavily on images from nature as well as the joys, heartaches and transgressions Bouvier has witnessed and experienced as a Métis woman. Using imagery strongly connected to the natural environment, Bouvier evokes earth’s regeneration through the seasons as inspiration for moving forward.