Anahareo (Mohawk). Devil in Deerskins. Ed. Sophie McCall. University of Manitoba Press, 2014 (1972). Memoir.

24. Devil_in_Deerskins (Anahareo)

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.

 

Baker, Marie Annharte (Anishinaabe). Indigena Awry. New Star Books, 2012.

25. Indigena Awry (Baker)

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.

Benaway, Gwen (Anishinaabe). Passage. Kegedonce Press, 2016. Poetry.

12. Passage (Benaway)

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.

Dumont, Dawn (Cree). Rose’s Run. Thistledown Press, 2014. Novel.

50. Rose's-Run (Dumont)

Publisher’s description: Rose Okanese, a single mother with two kids, has been pushed into a corner by Rez citizens to claim some self-respect, and decides that the fastest way to do that is to run the reserve’s annual marathon. But as fate will have it, one rather huge unforeseen outcome of her decision is that she will have to do battle with an old inadvertently conjured demon that feeds off the strength of women and can have them do her bidding. With a cast of unusual and unfamiliar characters, Dumont interweaves a tale of motherly love, friendship, lustful longing, wîhtikow lore, and Rez humour, and keeps the hoopla going until the race is done.

Freeman, Minnie Aodla (Inuit). Life Among the Qallunaat. University of Manitoba Press, 2015. Ed. Keavy Martin, Julie Rak, & Norma Dunning. Memoir.

41. Life Among the Qallunaat (Freeman)

Publisher’s description: Life Among the Qallunaat is the story of Mini Aodla Freeman’s experiences growing up in the Inuit communities of James Bay and her journey in the 1950s from her home to the strange land and stranger customs of the Qallunaat, those living south of the Arctic. Her extraordinary story, sometimes humorous and sometimes heartbreaking, illustrates an Inuit woman’s movement between worlds and ways of understanding. It also provides a clear-eyed record of the changes that swept through Inuit communities in the 1940s and 1950s. Mini Aodla Freeman was born in 1936 on Cape Hope Island in James Bay. Life Among the Qallunaat was first published in 1978 and is the third book in the First Voices, First Texts series, which publishes lost or underappreciated texts by Indigenous writers. This critical edition of Mini Aodla Freeman’s groundbreaking work includes revisions based on the original typescript, an interview with the author, and an afterword by Keavy Martin, Julie Rak, and Norma Dunning.

Highway, Tomson (Cree). The Rez Sisters. Fifth House, 1992 (1988). Drama.

21. The Rez Sisters (Highway)

Publisher’s description: This award-winning play by Native [Cree] playwright Tomson Highway is a powerful and moving portrayal of seven women from a reserve attempting to beat the odds by winning at bingo. And not just any bingo. It is THE BIGGEST BINGO IN THE WORLD and a chance to win a way out of a tortured life. The Rez Sisters is hilarious, shocking, mystical and powerful, and clearly establishes the creative voice of Native theatre and writing in Canada today.

Hungry Wolf, Beverly (Blackfoot). The Ways of My Grandmothers. HarperCollinsCanada, 1998. Memoir/oral tradition.

46. The Ways of My Grandmothers (Hungry Wolf)

Publisher’s description: A young Blackfoot woman creates a hauntingly beautiful tribute to an age-old way of life in this fascinating portrait of the women of the Blackfoot people. A captivating tapestry of personal and tribal history, legends and myths, and the wisdom passed down through generations of women, this extraordinary book is also a priceless record of the traditional skills and ways of an ancient culture. Including many rare photographs, The Ways of My Grandmothers is an authentic contribution to our knowledge and understanding of Blackfoot traditions—and a classic that will speak to women everywhere.