Ahenakew, Edward (Cree). Voices of the Plains Cree. University of Regina Press, 1995. Oral tradition/short stories.

39. Voices of the Plains Cree (Ahenakew)

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.

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.

 

Armstrong, Jeannette (Syilx). Slash. Theytus Books, 2007 (1985). Novel/young adult fiction.

Slash front cv

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.

Bouvier, Rita (Métis). nakamowin’sa for the seasons. Thistledown Press, 2016. Poetry.

17. nakamowin'sa for the seasons (Bouvier)

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.

Campbell, Maria (Métis). Half-breed. Goodread Biographies, 1983 (1973). Autobiography.

6. Halfbreed (Campbell)

Publisher’s description: Maria Campbell’s [auto]biography is a classic, vital account of a young Métis woman’s struggle to come to terms with the joys, sorrows, loves and tragedies of her northern Saskatchewan childhood. Maria was a strong and sensitive child who lived in a community robbed of its pride and dignity by the dominant culture. At 15 she tried in vain to escape by marrying a white man, only to find herself trapped in the slums of Vancouver—addicted to drugs, tempted by suicide, close to death. But the inspiration of her Cree great-grandmother, Cheechum, gives her confidence in herself and in her people, confidence she needs to survive and to thrive. Half-Breed offers an unparalleled understanding of the Métis people and of the racism and hatred they face. Maria Campbell’s story cannot be denied and it cannot be forgotten: it stands as a challenge to all Canadians who believe in human rights and human dignity.

Cariou, Warren (Métis). Lake of the Prairies: A Story of Belonging. Anchor Canada, 2003. Memoir.

5. Lake of the Prairies (Cariou)

Publisher’s description: Powerful, funny, moving and personal, Lake of the Prairies is a richly layered exploration of the ubiquitous childhood question: where do I come from? Warren Cariou’s story of origin begins in the boreal Saskatchewan landscape of rock, water and muskeg that is Meadow Lake—ensconced in the ethos of the north, where there is magic in a story and fiction is worth much more than fact. Grounded in the fertile soil of Meadow Lake are two historical traditions—Native and settler. Though the tragic story of how these traditions came to share the same home would remain buried from Warren until much later, history’s painful legacy was much in view. In the schoolyard and on the street corners Warren witnessed the discrimination, anger and fear directed at the town’s Cree and Métis populations—prejudices he absorbed as his own. As an adult, Warren Cariou has been forced to confront the politics of race in Meadow Lake. He learned that a rambunctious Native schoolmate could be involved in a torture and murder that would shock the world. And then Warren discovered family secrets kept hidden for generations, secrets that would alter forever Warren’s sense of identity and belonging in Meadow Lake.

Clements, Marie (Métis). Burning Vision. Talonbooks, 2003. Drama.

26. Burning Vision

Publisher’s description: Marie Clements’s latest play sears a dramatic swath through the reactionary identity politics of race, gender and class, using the penetrating yellow-white light, the false sun of uranium and radium, derived from a coal black rock known as pitchblende, as a metaphor for the invisible, malignant evils everywhere poisoning our relationship to the earth and to each other. Burning Vision unmasks both the great lies of the imperialist power-elite (telling the miners they are digging for a substance to “cure cancer” while secretly using it to build the atomic bombs that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki); and the seemingly small rationalizations and accommodations people of all cultures construct to make their personal circumstances yield the greatest benefit to themselves for the least amount of effort or change on their part. It is also a scathing attack on the “public apology” as yet another mask, as a manipulative device, which always seeks to conceal the maintenance and furtherance of the self-interest of its wearer.

Copway, George (Kahgegagahbowh) (Anishinaabe). Life, Letters and Speeches. Ed. A. LaVonne Brown Ruoff and Donald B. Smith. University of Nebraska Press, 2006. Autobiography/Speeches.

38. Life, Letters and Speeches (Copway)

Publisher’s description: George Copway (Kahgegagahbowh, 1818–69), an Ojibwe writer and lecturer, rose to prominence in American literary, political, and social circles during the mid-nineteenth century. His colorful, kaleidoscopic life took him from the tiny Ojibwe village of his youth [in Canada] to the halls of state legislatures throughout the eastern United States and eventually overseas. Copway converted to Methodism as a teenager and traveled throughout the Midwest as a missionary, becoming a forceful and energetic spokesperson for temperance and the rights and sovereignty of Indians, lecturing to large crowds in the United States and Europe, and founding a newspaper devoted to Native issues. One of the first Native American autobiographies, Life, Letters and Speeches chronicles Copway’s unique and often difficult cultural journey, vividly portraying the freedom of his early childhood, the dramatic moment of his spiritual awakening to Methodism, the rewards and frustrations of missionary work, his desperate race home to warn of a pending Sioux attack, and the harrowing rescue of his son from drowning.

Dumont, Marilyn (Cree/Métis). The Pemmican Eaters. ECW Press, 2015. Poetry.

15. The Pemmican Eaters (Dumont)

Publisher’s description: With a title derived from John A. Macdonald’s moniker for the Métis, The Pemmican Eaters explores Marilyn Dumont’s sense of history as the dynamic present. Combining free verse and metered poems, her latest collection aims to recreate a palpable sense of the Riel Resistance period and evoke the geographical, linguistic/cultural, and political situation of Batoche during this time through the eyes of those who experienced the battles, as well as through the eyes of Gabriel and Madeleine Dumont and Louis Riel. Included in this collection are poems about the bison, seed beadwork, and the Red River Cart, and some poems employ elements of the Michif language, which, along with French and Cree, was spoken by Dumont’s ancestors. In Dumont’s The Pemmican Eaters, a multiplicity of identities is a strengthening rather than a weakening or diluting force in culture.

Francis, Marvin (Cree). city treaty: a long poem. Turnstone Press, 2002. Poetry.

16. city treat (Francis)

Publisher’s description: Gritty and fresh, Marvin Francis’s long poem, city treaty, tackles the tough issues of cultural assimilation and the challenges faced by a traditional community trying to locate itself in the urban context. Marvin Francis’s poetry breaks linguistic conventions and leaps off the page.