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.

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, 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.

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.

Maracle, Lee (Stó:lō). Ravensong: A Novel. Women’s Press, 2017 (1993). Novel.

4. Ravensong (Maracle)

Publisher’s description: Set along the Pacific Northwest Coast in the 1950s, Ravensong tells the story of a Native [Coast Salish] community devastated by an influenza epidemic. Stacey, a 17-year-old Native [Coast Salish] girl, struggles with the clash between white society’s values and her family’s traditional ways, knowing that her future lies somewhere in between. Celia, her sister, has visions from the past, while Raven warns of an impending catastrophe before there is any reconciliation between the two cultures. In this passionate story about a young woman’s quest for answers, author Lee Maracle speaks unflinchingly of the gulf between two cultures: a gulf that Raven says must be bridged. Ravensong is a moving drama that includes elements of prophecy, mythology, cultural critique, and humour. Featuring a preface by Lee Maracle and cover art by Métis artist Christi Belcourt, this revitalized edition is ideal for use in Literature and Gender and Women’s Studies programs.

Nappaaluk, Mitiarjuk (Inuit). Sanaaq. Trans. Bernard Saladin d’Anglure. University of Manitoba Press, 2014 (1984). Novel.

44. Sanaaq (Nappaaluk)

Publisher’s description: Sanaaq is an intimate story of an Inuit family negotiating the changes brought into their community by the coming of the qallunaat, the white people. Composed in 48 episodes, it recounts the daily life of Sanaaq, a strong and outspoken young widow, her daughter Qumaq, and their small semi-nomadic community in northern Quebec. Here they live their lives hunting seal, repairing their kayak, and gathering mussels under blue sea ice before the tide comes in. These are ordinary extraordinary lives: marriages are made and unmade, children are born and named, violence appears in the form of a fearful husband or a hungry polar bear. Here the spirit world is alive and relations with non-humans are never taken lightly. And under it all, the growing intrusion of the qallunaat and the battle for souls between the Catholic and Anglican missionaries threatens to forever change the way of life of Sanaaq and her young family.

Paquette, Aaron (Cree). Lightfinder. Kegedonce, 2014. Fantasy/young adult fiction.

14. Lightfinder (Paquette)

Publisher’s description: Written & illustrated by Aaron Paquette, Lightfinder is a Young Adult fantasy novel about Aisling, a young Cree woman who sets out into the wilderness with her Kokum (grandmother), Aunty and two young men she barely knows. They have to find and rescue her runaway younger brother, Eric. Along the way she learns that the legends of her people might be real and that she has a growing power of her own. The story follows the paths of Aisling and Eric, siblings unwittingly thrust into a millennia old struggle for the future of life on earth…. Set in the Alberta landscape with references to real-world challenges faced by youth today, Lightfinder has proven to be a hit with young adults and adults alike.

Robinson, Eden (Haisla/Heiltsuk). Monkey Beach. Vintage Canada, 2001. Novel.

7. Monkey Beach (Robinson)

Publisher’s description: Monkey Beach combines both joy and tragedy in a harrowing yet restrained story of grief and survival, and of a family on the edge of heartbreak. In the first English-language novel to be published by a Haisla writer, Eden Robinson offers a rich celebration of life in the Native settlement of Kitamaat, on the coast of British Columbia. The story grips the reader from the beginning. It is the morning after the narrator’s brother has gone missing at sea; the mood is tense in the family house, as speculations remain unspoken. Jimmy is a prospective Olympic swimmer, seventeen years old and on the edge of proposing to his beautiful girlfriend Karaoke. As his elder sister, Lisa, faces possible disaster, she chain-smokes and drifts into thoughts of their lives so far…. We watch Lisa leave her teenage years behind as she waits for news of her younger brother. She reflects on the many rich episodes of their lives – so many of which take place around the water, reminding us of the news she fears, and revealing the menacing power of nature. But Lisa has a special recourse – a “gift” that enables her to see and hear spirits, and ask for their help.

Ruffo, Armand Garnet (Anishinaabe). The Thunderbird Poems. Harbour Publishing, 2015. Poetry.

37. The Thunderbird Poems (Ruffo) Publisher’s description: Norval Morrisseau’s revered work has been honoured, copied and recognized throughout the art world and beyond. Less widely known but equally captivating is the artist’s personal life story, which poet and biographer Armand Garnet Ruffo related in his powerful narrative biography, Norval Morrisseau: Man Changing into Thunderbird (Douglas & McIntyre, 2014). Ruffo immersed himself in the life and work of the artist, gaining insight into the struggles and sources of inspiration underlying Morrisseau’s greatest works through research and interviews with the artist himself—a connection further strengthened by their shared Ojibway heritage. His lengthy study of Morrisseau inspired Ruffo to write poems reflecting on both the works of art and the emotional context in which Morrisseau painted them. The Thunderbird Poems complements the highly evocative and poetic biography, delving into Morrisseau’s creative life through compressed, imagistic language, while untangling the complex and powerful threads of meaning, tradition and emotional power that resonate throughout Morrisseau’s strong lines and vibrant colours.

Ulrikab, Abraham (Inuit). The Diary of Abraham Ulrikab: Text and Context. Ed. Hartmut Lutz. University of Ottawa Press, 2005. Memoir.

45. The Diary of Abraham Ulrikab (Ulrikab)

Publisher’s description: In August 1880, businessman Adrian Jakobsen convinced eight Inuit men, women, and children from Hebron and Nakvak, Labrador to accompany him to Europe to be “exhibited” in zoos and Völkerschauen (ethnographic shows). Abraham, Maria, Noggasak, Paingo, Sara, Terrianiak, Tobias, and Ulrike agreed, partly for the money and partly out of curiosity to see the wonders of Europe, which they had heard about from Moravian missionaries. This story is told through several different perspectives, from Abraham’s diary, the earliest known Inuit autobiography, and the missionaries’ letters and reports, to a scholarly article, newspaper pieces, and even advertising. Many illustrations, including portraits done of the Inuit visitors, scans of some of the original documents in German, and recent photos of the abandoned Moravian mission in Hebron, round out Abraham’s intriguing and unfortunate story.