Indigenous Books of 2022 so far… Part 2
In case you missed it, we mentioned 10 great books by Indigenous authors published in 2022 so far! We’re back again today with 10 more books, and we’ll have one more blog post to share in the coming weeks. To make sure we don’t leave your favourite out of Part 3, make sure to comment on our upcoming Instagram and/or Facebook posts.
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- Allotment Stories: Indigenous Land Relations Under Settler Siege, by Daniel Heath Justice and Jean M. O’Brien (March 28, 2022)
Land privatization has been a longstanding and ongoing process separating Indigenous peoples from their traditional homelands, with devastating consequences. Allotment Stories delves into this conflict, creating a complex conversation out of narratives of Indigenous communities resisting allotment and other dispossessive land schemes.
From the use of homesteading by nineteenth-century Anishinaabe women to maintain their independence to the role that roads have played in expropriating Guam’s Indigenous heritage to the links between land loss and genocide in California, Allotment Stories collects more than two dozen chronicles of white imperialism and Indigenous resistance. Ranging from the historical to the contemporary and grappling with Indigenous land struggles around the globe, these narratives showcase both scholarly and creative forms of expression, constructing a multifaceted book of diverse disciplinary perspectives. Allotment Stories highlights how Indigenous peoples have consistently used creativity to sustain collective ties, kinship relations, and cultural commitments in the face of privatization. At once informing readers while provoking them toward further research into Indigenous resilience, this collection pieces back together some of what the forces of allotment have tried to tear apart.
For more details on the book, see Goodreads.
- Return of the Trickster, by Eden Robinson (March 28, 2022)
Jared, teenaged trouble magnet, wakes up in a hospital bed feeling like hell. Not for the first time.
Some of the people he loves--the ones who are deaf to the magic that swirls around him--assume he fell off the wagon after a tough year of sobriety. They think that's why movers found him naked, dangerously dehydrated and confused in the basement of his mom's old house in Kitimat. The truth for Jared is so much worse. He finally knows for sure that he has no hope of ever being normal because he really is the son of Wee'git, a Trickster, and he's won the magic lottery--he is the only one of Wee'git's 535 children who is a Trickster too. He is actually in such bad shape because he was forced into mortal combat with his father's sister, Aunt Georgina, a maniacal ogress hungry for his power. In the struggle, he transported her and her posse of shape-shifting coy wolves to another dimension where the coy wolves all died. Now Georgina doesn't only want to turn him into her slave, she wants revenge on his whole family.
There's more bad news: the only person in his life who is happy that he's a Trickster is his ex, Sarah. Everyone else he loves is either pissed with him or in danger from the dark forces he's accidentally unleashed in their world. His mother Maggie, a hard-partying, gun-toting, tough-as-nails witch, resents like hell that Jared has taken after his father, but she is also determined that no one is going to hurt her boy. For Maggie it's simple--Kill or be killed, bucko--and soon Jared is at the centre of an all-out war. A horrible place to be for the sweetest Trickster there's ever been, one whose first instinct is not mischief and mind games but to make the world around him a kinder, safer, place.
This is the third book in the series. You can find the other books on Goodreads.
- Dog Flowers: A Memoir, An Archive, by Danielle Geller (April 11, 2022)
After Danielle Geller's mother dies of a withdrawal from alcohol during a period of homelessness, she is forced to return to Florida. Using her training as a librarian and archivist, Geller collects her mother's documents, diaries, and photographs into a single suitcase and begins on a journey of confronting her family's history and the decisions she's been forced to make, a journey that will end at her mother's home: the Navajo reservation.
Geller masterfully intertwines wrenching prose with archival documents to create a deeply moving narrative of loss and inheritance that pays homage to our pasts, traditions, heritage, the family we are given, and the family we choose.
Find out more on Goodreads.
- Restoring the Kinship Worldview: Indigenous Voices Introduce 28 Precepts for Rebalancing Life on Planet Earth, by Wahinke Topa (Four Arrows) and Darcia Narvaez (April 11, 2022)
Indigenous worldviews, and the knowledge they confer, are critical for human survival and the w of future generations. Editors Wahinkpe Topa (Four Arrows) and Darcia Narvaez present 28 powerful excerpted passages from Indigenous leaders, including Mourning Dove, Robin Wall Kimmerer, Winona LaDuke, and Xiuhtezcatl Martinez. Accompanied by the editors’ own analyses, each chapter reflects the wisdom of Indigenous worldview precepts like:
- Egalitarian rule versus hierarchical governance
- A fearless trust in the universe, instead of a fear-based culture
- The life-sustaining role of ceremony
- Emphasizing generosity and the greater good instead of pursuing selfish goals and for personal gain
- The laws of nature as the highest rules for living
The editors emphasize our deep need to move away from the dominant Western paradigm--one that dictates we live without strong social purpose, fails to honor the earth as sacred, leads with the head while ignoring the heart, and places individual “rights” over collective responsibility. Restoring the Kinship Worldview is rooted in an Indigenous vision and strong social purpose that sees all life forms as sacred and sentient--that honors the wisdom of the heart, and grants equal standing to rights and responsibilities.
Inviting readers into a world-sense that expands beyond perceiving and conceiving to experiencing and being, Restoring the Kinship Worldview is a salve for our times, a nourishment for our collective, and a holistic orientation that will lead us away from extinction toward an integrated, sustainable future.
See the book on Goodreads.
- Scratching River, by Michelle Porter (April 14, 2022)
Scratching River weaves multiple stories and voices across time to explore the strengths and challenges of the ways in which Métis have created, and continue to create, home through a storied and mobile social geography that is always on the move.
The book foregrounds the story of a search for a home for Michelle Porter’s older brother, who holds dual diagnoses of schizophrenia and autism, and the abuse he endured at the rural Alberta group home that was supposed to care for him. Interspersed throughout are news clippings about the investigation into “The Ranch,” the home in question. Métis history is woven between the contemporary stories of the author, her brother, and her mother. As the pieces come together, the book uses the river as a metaphor to suggest that rather than a weakness, the ability to move and move again and to move on has enabled survival, healing, and ongoing reconciliation.
More on the book at Goodreads.
- The Life and Legacy of Muriel Stanley Venne: A Métis Matriarch, by Christine Mowat and Muriel Stanley Venne (April 25, 2022)
Written over the course of four years of interviews and research, The Life and Legacy of Muriel Stanley Venne is the first authorized biography of this remarkable Métis matriarch and community leader. Born in Lamont, Alberta, as the oldest of ten children, Venne has dedicated her life to promoting the rights of Indigenous women.
While her life has been filled with both hardships and triumphs, Venne’s crowning achievement has been the founding of the Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women (IAAW), the Edmonton-based nonprofit organization that she ran for a quarter of a century. One of the first organizations of its kind to raise awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in Canada, IAAW recognizes the societal obstacles and dangers that Indigenous women disproportionately face. Venne’s advocacy work has contributed greatly to the national conversation surrounding Indigenous Peoples, particularly issues of systemic racism, the intergenerational effects of residential school abuse, and the Sixties Scoop. This book places Venne’s life in the context of these issues, and highlights recent groundbreaking legislation that her work has contributed to.
The book can be found on Goodreads.
- In Our Backyard: Keeyask and the Legacy of Hydroelectric Development, by Aimee Craft and Jill Blakley (April 28, 2022)
Beginning with the Grand Rapids Dam in the 1960s, hydroelectric development has dramatically altered the social, political, and physical landscape of northern Manitoba. The Nelson River has been cut up into segments and fractured by a string of dams, for which the Churchill River had to be diverted and new inflow points from Lake Winnipeg created to manage their capacity. Historic mighty rapids have shrivelled into dry river beds. Manitoba Hydro's Keeyask dam and generating station will expand the existing network of 15 dams and 13,800 km of transmission lines.
In Our Backyard tells the story of the Keeyask dam and accompanying development on the Nelson River from the perspective of Indigenous peoples, academics, scientists, and regulators. It builds on the rich environmental and economic evaluations documented in the Clean Environment Commission's public hearings on Keeyask in 2012. It amplifies Indigenous voices that environmental assessment and regulatory processes have often failed to incorporate and provides a basis for ongoing decision-making and scholarship relating to Keeyask and resource development more generally. It considers cumulative, regional, and strategic impact assessments; Indigenous worldviews and laws within the regulatory and decision-making process; the economics of development; models for monitoring and management; consideration of affected species; and cultural and social impacts.
With a provincial and federal regulatory regime that is struggling with important questions around the balance between development and sustainability, and in light of the inherent rights of Indigenous people to land, livelihoods, and self-determination, In Our Backyard offers critical reflections that highlight the need for purposeful dialogue, principled decision making, and a better legacy of northern development in the future.
See Goodreads for more info.
- So You Girls Remember That: Memoir of a Haida Elder, Gaadgas Nora Bellis (April 29, 2022)
So You Girls Remember That is an oral history of a Haida Elder, Naanii Nora, who lived from 1902 to 1997. A collaborative effort, this project was initiated and guided by Charlie Bellis and Maureen McNamara and was years in the making. The resulting book, compiled by Jenny Nelson, is a window into Nora’s life and her family—from the young girl singing all day in the canoe, bossing her brothers around or crossing Hecate Strait on her dad’s schooner, to the young woman making her way in the new white settlers’ town up the inlet, with music always a refrain. These are stories of childhood; of people and place, seasons and change; life stages and transitions such as moving and marriage; and Haida songs and meanings.
This book also contains the larger story of Nora’s times, a representation of changing political relationships between Canada and the Haida people and a personal part of the Haida tale.
What ultimately shines through is Nora’s singular and dynamic voice speaking with the wisdom of years. For example, on giving advice she says: “I like to give anybody advice because when you’re young you don’t know nothing on this world. What’s coming; what’s going … You have to remember it’s a steep hill; you’re right on the top. You slide down anytime if you don’t be careful.”
This is a work of great generosity, expressing Nora’s spirit of living—her joy, humour, spirituality and resourcefulness; her love of children, music and social life; her kindness, strong will and creativity; and her spirit that has nurtured a community and endures to this day.
Royalties will be donated to the Carl Hart Legacy Trust through the Haida Gwaii Community Foundation, to support the Rediscovery Camp at T'aalan Stl'ang.
See the book on the Indigo website.
- God Isn’t Here Today, by Francine Cunningham (May 9, 2022)
For fans of Chuck Palahniuk, Joyce Carol Oates, and Karen Russell, the stories in Francine Cunningham’s debut collection God Isn’t Here Today ricochet between form and genre, taking readers on a dark, irreverent, yet poignant journey led by a unique and powerful new voice.
Driven by desperation into moments of transformation, Cunningham’s characters are presented with moments of choice—some for the better and some for the worse. A young man goes to God’s office downtown for advice; a woman discovers she is the last human on Earth; an ice cream vendor is driven insane by his truck’s song; an ageing stripper uses undergarments to enact her escape plan; an incubus tires of his professional grind; and a young woman inherits a power that has survived genocide, but comes with a burden of its own.
Even as they flirt with the fantastic, Cunningham’s stories unfold with the innate elegance of a spring fern, reminding us of the inherent dualities in human nature—and that redemption can arise where we least expect it.
See more on Goodreads.
- The Summer of Bitter and Sweet, by Jen Ferguson (May 9, 2022)
In this complex and emotionally resonant novel, debut author Jen Ferguson serves up a powerful story about rage, secrets, and all the spectrums that make up a person—and the sweetness that can still live alongside the bitterest truth.
Lou has enough confusion in front of her this summer. She’ll be working in her family’s ice cream shack with her newly ex-boyfriend—whose kisses never made her feel desire, only discomfort—and her former best friend, King, who is back in their Canadian prairie town after disappearing three years ago without a word.
But when she gets a letter from her biological father—a man she hoped would stay behind bars for the rest of his life—Lou immediately knows that she cannot meet him, no matter how much he insists.
While King’s friendship makes Lou feel safer and warmer than she would have thought possible, when her family’s business comes under threat, she soon realizes that she can’t ignore her father forever.
Check out the Goodreads page.