A friend who recently moved to Canada told me he would like to read something about the history of Indigenous peoples in Canada / North America, and asked for introductory book suggestions. His request inspired me to come up with list of books that would provide someone with little background a good introduction to the subject, in no particular order. I also asked for suggestions on twitter and facebook, and some of those found their way onto my list.
King, Thomas. The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People In North America. Toronto: Doubleday, 2012.
Wright, Ronald. Stolen Continents: The “New World” through Indian eyes. Toronto: Penguin, 1992.
Brown, Chester. Louis Riel: A Comic-Strip Biography. Montréal: Drawn & Quarterly, 2006.
Brody, Hugh. The Other Side of Eden: Hunters, farmers and the shaping of the world. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 2000.
Mann, Charles C. 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus. Vintage, 2006.
Dickason, Olive Patricia, and William Newbigging. A Concise History of Canada’s First Nations. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 2015 (3rd edition)
Freeman, Minnie Aodla. Life among the Qallunaat. Edmonton: Hurtig Publishers, 1978.
Byrne, Nympha, and Camille Foulliard, eds. It’s Like a Legend: Innu Women’s Voices. Charlottetown, PEI: Gynergy Books, 2000.
Many thanks to all of you who submitted suggestions by twitter and facebook:
Please use the comments section to let me know about books you would recommend.
One of my research projects concerns Otto J. Klotz, a German-Canadian surveyor in the 1870s and 1880s. Klotz is not well-known today, but he left a rich personal diary with an entry for every day of his adult life. He was involved in creating the property grid of the Dominion Land Survey on what would become the Canadian Prairies, and would later go on to become Canada’s top astronomer. I say “what would become the Canadian Prairies” because the prairies Klotz first encountered were not Canadian: the majority populations were Indigenous, Indigenous nations were politically and militarily powerful, and the primary languages spoken were Indigenous languages including Michif (the language of the Métis). The eventual dominance of the Canadian state was still far from certain. It was surveyors like Klotz, along with police officers, railway engineers, and Indian Affairs officials, who made the Canadian state a reality on the Prairies.
This summer I have been mapping out Klotz’s travels, as a way to better understand Canadian colonization of the Prairie West. The above image is a screenshot I took while using GIS software to trace out the cart trails that crisscrossed the northern Prairies in the 1880s. Using Klotz’ professional surveying notebooks, it is relatively easy to spatialize his travels for the days when he was working to create the Dominion Land Survey (the rectangular property grid that covers the Prairies from western Ontario to parts of British Columbia). His notebooks give his geographical coordinates for every day he was in the field, but not for the days when he was traveling to and from his worksite. Using only Klotz’s diaries and notebooks there was no way to precisely map his travels. His diaries sometimes indicate which cart trail he traveled, but those cart trails no longer exist, and I needed to find where they used to be. Thankfully I was able to find some high quality digital images of Northwest Mounted Police map and a Dominion Lands Survey map from the 1880s that showed cart trails (thank you University of Alberta libraries!), then georeferenced them, and began to trace out the trails.
This screenshot shows a work in progress along with a georeferenced DLS map of eastern Manitoba and western Ontario. For the purposes of orienting the viewer, the purple lines are largely focused on Manitoba, and the yellow lines on what is today Saskatchewan and Alberta. The network of trails revealed by the image shows that the pre-railroad land transportation network was well-established and wide-spread, and that certain places that are ghost towns today (like Fort Elice, the busy node where maroon and yellow lines meet) were central transit hubs 130 years ago. When I complete this work, I will provide the University of Alberta libraries with the georeferenced maps and shape-files for the cart trails so they can be made available to other researchers. With few traces of these trails remaining on the ground, this will help us to better understand life on the Prairies before and during colonization.
2013 photo of a historical plaque in Southern Saskatchewan marking the location of the Weyburn Cart Trail.
“Man of Science, Tool of Colonialism: Otto J. Klotz Lays It Down 1875-1890”
Date: 21 mars 2013, 17h
Lieu: Université de Montréal
3150, rue Jean-Brillant, salle C-6121
The Montreal History Group / Le Groupe d’histoire de Montréal
Decolonizaton: Indigeneity, Education, and Society: “This is the blog site of the online, interdisciplinary, Open Access journal, Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society, which can be found at www.decolonization.org. Decolonization is a journal which centers and privileges various forms of Indigenous knowledges, epistemologies and methodologies for the purpose of decolonization at all levels.”
Media Indigena: “an interactive, multimedia magazine dedicated to Indigenous news, views and creative expression.”
Jarrett Martineau – Culterite: “explores Indigeneity, politics, media, hip-hop, art, culture, philosophy & technology.”
âpihtawikosisân Law, Language, Life: A Plains-Cree speaking Métis woman in Montreal
Here are a few of the best informational videos related to Idle No More. Of course there are many other excellent videos–this is only a selection.
Wab Kinew on George Strouboulopoulos Tonight
The Agenda with Steve Paikin – The State of Aboriginal Affairs (TVO). Guests: Pam Palmater, Douglas Sanderson, Randall Phillips, Mike Metatawabin, Ron Jamieson
The Agenda with Steve Paikin – Canadian Aboriginals: In or Out? (TVO). Guests: Pam Palmater, Paul Martin, Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux, Clint Davis
The Agenda with Steve Paikin – Moving Beyond the Indian Act, Guests: Tobold Rollo, Douglas Sanderson, Christopher Alcantara, Jonathan Kay
On the Indian Act, Treaties, and Current Legislation
Breaking Down the Indian Act with Russell Diabo
Websites with Multiple Videos
The Ways: Great Lakes Native Culture & Language
Feel free to add your suggestions!