The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account Of Native People In North America

by Thomas King

Doubleday Canada | August 13, 2013 | Trade Paperback

The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account Of Native People In North America is rated 4.1429 out of 5 by 7.

Rich with dark and light, pain and magic, The Inconvenient Indian distills the insights gleaned from Thomas King's critical and personal meditation on what it means to be "Indian" in North America, weaving the curiously circular tale of the relationship between non-Natives and Natives in the centuries since the two first encountered each other. In the process, King refashions old stories about historical events and figures, takes a sideways look at film and pop culture, relates his own complex experiences with activism, and articulates a deep and revolutionary understanding of the cumulative effects of ever-shifting laws and treaties on Native peoples and lands.
     This is a book both timeless and timely, burnished with anger but tempered by wit, and ultimately a hard-won offering of hope--a sometimes inconvenient but nonetheless indispensable account for all of us, Indian and non-Indian alike, seeking to understand how we might tell a new story for the future.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 336 pages, 8 × 5.2 × 0.94 in

Published: August 13, 2013

Publisher: Doubleday Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0385664222

ISBN - 13: 9780385664226

Found in: History

save 27%

  • In stock online

$15.96  ea

Online Price

$21.00 List Price

eGift this item

Give this item in the form of an eGift Card.

+ what is this?

This item is eligible for FREE SHIPPING on orders over $25.
See details

Easy, FREE returns. See details

Item can only be shipped in Canada

Downloads instantly to your kobo or other ereading device. See details

Check store inventory (prices may vary)

Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Non-Fiction Read for Fiction Readers! Hilarious!
Date published: 2015-02-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This book is a "Must Read" I wish we had been taught this history when I was in school. I bought it because I felt I didn't know enough about aboriginal history and am delighted that I did. It is very well written and gives one a history lesson in very a readable and interesting way. It's not only Canadian History but American History as it affected native peoples. I was happy to read that it is still part of the school curriculum in Canada. I would definitely recommend it to all Canadians who are interested in the subject and those who who should be as well.
Date published: 2015-02-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I must read this book This book was strongly suggested to me for a must read. This is the first book by King for me to read. This is a book that I have been looking and waiting for years I was not disappointed. King's writing gave all the information and history on both sides of the Canadian and USA border His style shocked me when a page had many facts that were hard to take in but somehow I kept reading.
Date published: 2015-01-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This should be compulsory reading for every North American I simply couldn't put this book down. It's a rollicking lope through the history of Indian and European relations in North America -- one that is simultaneously hilarious and haunting. King's velvet glove of humour cushions a compelling anger. I've already given away two copies to friends -- it's that good.
Date published: 2014-03-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Just read it! This book is a welcome antidote to the long, uninterrupted line of North American histories in which aboriginal voices have been largely absent or muted.  It's funny, thoughtful, and thought-provoking.  It is also uncomfortable at times, as an account of colonialism only can be.
Date published: 2014-02-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Must Read for all! Enjoyable, hard-hitting book about North American history from the perspective of Native peoples. Thomas King writes in a no-holds barred book looking at the impact on Natives lives by European civilization and the quest for land and riches. It is not a linear factoid historical book but a conversational style account of 'Indian' life not just from yesterday but to present times. Excellent material! Every Canadian should read this book to have a better understanding of the issues and challenges confronting Canada's First Nations.
Date published: 2013-08-26
Rated 1 out of 5 by from A biased account of the realities of Native life in North America. Why are you showing 'no reviews ' for this book? Several were presented and posted on this site weeks ago. Very unprofessional and an explanation is needed.
Date published: 2013-05-16

– More About This Product –

The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account Of Native People In North America

The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account Of Native People In North America

by Thomas King

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 336 pages, 8 × 5.2 × 0.94 in

Published: August 13, 2013

Publisher: Doubleday Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0385664222

ISBN - 13: 9780385664226

Read from the Book

About fifteen years back, a bunch of us got together to form a drum group. John Samosi, one of our lead singers, suggested we call ourselves “The Pesky Redskins.” Since we couldn’t sing all that well, John argued, we needed a name that would make people smile and encourage them to overlook our musical deficiencies.We eventually settled on the Waa-Chi-Waasa Singers, which was a more stately name. Sandy Benson came up with it, and as I remember, waa-chi-waasa is Ojibway for “far away.” Appropriate enough, since most of the boys who sit around the drum here in Guelph, Ontario, come from somewhere other than here. John’s from Saskatoon. Sandy calls Rama home. Harold Rice was raised on the coast of British Columbia. Mike Duke’s home community is near London, Ontario. James Gordon is originally from Toronto. I hail from California’s central valley, while my son Benjamin was born in Lethbridge, Alberta, and was dragged around North America with his older brother and younger sister. I don’t knowwhere he considers home to be.Anishinaabe, Métis, Coastal Salish, Cree, Cherokee. We have nothing much in common. We’re all Aboriginal and we have the drum. That’s about it.I had forgotten about “Pesky Redskins” but it must have been kicking around in my brain because, when I went looking for a title for this book, something with a bit of irony to it, there it was.Pesky Redskins: A Curious History of Indians in North America.Problem was, no one else liked the title. Several people I trust told
read more read less

From the Publisher

Rich with dark and light, pain and magic, The Inconvenient Indian distills the insights gleaned from Thomas King's critical and personal meditation on what it means to be "Indian" in North America, weaving the curiously circular tale of the relationship between non-Natives and Natives in the centuries since the two first encountered each other. In the process, King refashions old stories about historical events and figures, takes a sideways look at film and pop culture, relates his own complex experiences with activism, and articulates a deep and revolutionary understanding of the cumulative effects of ever-shifting laws and treaties on Native peoples and lands.
     This is a book both timeless and timely, burnished with anger but tempered by wit, and ultimately a hard-won offering of hope--a sometimes inconvenient but nonetheless indispensable account for all of us, Indian and non-Indian alike, seeking to understand how we might tell a new story for the future.

About the Author

THOMAS KING is one of Canada's premier Native public intellectuals. For the past five decades, he has worked as an activist for Native causes and an administrator of Native programs, and has taught Native literature and history at universities in the United States and Canada. He is the bestselling author of five novels, including Medicine River, described as "precise and elegant" by The New York Times; Green Grass, Running Water, which Newsweek called "a first class work of art"; and Truth and Bright Water, a CBC Canada Reads 2004 Selection. He is also the author of two frequently anthologized collections of short stories, several books for children, and the 2003 Massey Lectures, The Truth About Stories. He has been nominated for or won numerous awards and honours, including the National Aboriginal Achievement Award, the Governor General's Literary Award, the Trillium Award, the Commonwealth Prize, and the Order of Canada. He lives in Guelph, Ontario. The author lives in Guelph, Ontario.

Editorial Reviews

National BestsellerWINNER 2015 – CBC Bookie Awards - Non-FictionWINNER 2014 – RBC Taylor PrizeWINNER 2013 – Canadian Booksellers Association Non-Fiction Book of the YearFINALIST 2014 – Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Non-FictionFINALIST 2013 – Trillium Award“King is a Canadian icon . . . The Inconvenient Indian is labeled a history book but it is about Canada today. I suggest teachers include a copy in every school classroom. It made me a better Canadian and more compassionate person.” —Craig Kielburger, co-founder of Free the Children, defending The Inconvenient Indian at Canada Reads 2015"Thomas King is funny. And ironic, sarcastic, clever and witty. His writing style is direct, offbeat and accessible. . . . [The Inconvenient Indian is] a riveting, sweeping narrative that illuminates, horrifies, stupefies and educates. This book is a must-read for anyone who wants to better understand the enormous divide that persists between many aboriginals and non-aboriginals." —Edmonton Journal“The Inconvenient Indian may well be unsettling for many non-natives in this country to read. This is exactly why we all should read it. Especially now.” —Vancouver Sun“[The Inconvenient Indian is] couched in a plainspoken forthrightness that shocks as often as it demystifies. . . . It is essential reading for everyone who cares about Canada and who seeks to understand native people, their issues and their dreams. . . . Thomas King is beyond being a great writer and storytelle
read more read less

Bookclub Guide

1. Consider the evolution from the title Pesky Redskins: A Curious History of Indians in North America to the book's title The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Indians in North America. Why did King come to the conclusion that this book is not a history? What do you think is the significance of the terms "Redskins" and "Indians"?

2. On several occasions King reveals the futility of writing a history. "One of the difficulties with trying to contain any account of Indians in North America ina volume as modest as this is that it can't be done" (xiv). He goes on to concede he prefers fiction to fact (xi), and that he is not keeping his biases in check (xii). Is bringing these issues to the forefront an effective strategy? How might shedding light on historical incongruity such as the Almo massacre and the story of Pocahontas impact the way you read historical accounts in the future? What does that tell you about how history is written and taught? 

3. King writes, "Gazing through the lens that seventeenth-century Christisanity provided, most were only able to see the basic dichotomy that framed their world, a world that was either light or dark, good or evil, civilized or savage" (23). How has the lens through which White North America looks altered since the seventeenth century? How has it remained the same? If North American history is written froma White consciousness, as King suggests, in what ways is this book different, coming from a Native writer and perspective?

4. What does King's statement, "the need for race preceeds race" (29) signify? The author goes on to note that while General Custer became a staple in American history, individuals like Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull remain minor figures. Why is it important to keep what history made of Custer in mind? In what ways is racism still, as King says, endemic and systemic in North America?

5. King writes, "Most of us this history is the past. It's not. History is the stories we tell about the past" (2). What does this say about the oral and written traditions of telling stories? Discuss the implications and effectiveness of King's decision to tell anecdotes rather than limit the book to dates and statistics. 

6. On page 20, King asserts that "Native history is an imaginative cobbling together of fears and loathings, romances and reverences, facts and fantasies" as portrayed on the silver screen by Hollywood. What was--and is--the impact of having this history promoted through the entertainment industry? How do film and television today reinforce stereotypes and an incomplete history of Aboriginals in North America?

7. Discuss the differences between what King calls Dead Indians, Live Indians, and Legal Indians. How does the idea of the Dead Indian affect Live Indians today? Is it promoting a myth that is ultimately detrimental, or, as is said on page 74, serving a purpose by preserving a culture? 

8. In the prologue of the book King states, "when we look at Native-Non-Native relations, there is no great difference betweenthe past and the present" (xv). In what ways has Duncan Campbell Scott's move to "get rid of the Indian problem" (72) evolved in Canadian government policy in the last 100 years? Is there evidence that this sentiment still exists? Canada is known as a cultural mosaic, widely appreciated for embracing cultrual and racial differences. In what ways does this hold true in the case of Indians? In what ways is it an untrue understanding? Is Stephen Harper's apology for residential schools still legitimate when he later denies a history of colonialism?

9. The cover image of this book is taken from a mid-1900s promotional poster for a shipping company. What does this say about the era's marketing of the Dead Indian? What effect does today's marketing of "Native" crafts, medicines, and retreats have on Natives and Native history?

10. Consider the incongruities of identity for a Native that King describes: on one hand is a culture of young Indian children who wished to dress up as cowboys (22), and on the other, a contemporary actor who seemed to acquire an "Indian identity" after acquiring a role as an Indian (45). What implications does this have on Natives' identities? In what ways has Indian policy, as King says on page 177, discouraged the retention of such identities? 

11. King enlists satire and humour throughout The Inconvenient Indian. Does this make you consider things differently than you would in reading the same sentiments in a traditional history book? Why might maintaining a sense of humour be important to King in writing this book and persuading his readers? Is it an effective tool?

12. An early intention of the residential schooling system was to "kill the Indian in order to save the man" (107). What are the immediate and long-term impacts of this assimilation on Native people? Consider the conditions and philosophies of the schools, and discuss whether they blur a line between "assimilation" and "extermination," as King explicates on page 101. In what ways is King's comparison  of Natives to the holocaust on page 114 a fair--or unfair--comparison? King associates the Trial of Tears to the twin towers (88); European colonialism to malaria; and Reservations to Alcatraz prison (141)--are these convincing analogies?

13. Do you think taht sovereignty should be a right of Native people in North America? What impact would it hold compared to a more comprehensive tribal membership or resource development systems, which King promotes on page 202?  

14. In the last chapter of his book King points to two positive developments for Natives in North America: The Alaska Native Claims Settlement and The Nunavut Land Claims Settlement. What impact do they have on the tribes who inhabit these areas, and on all tribes in North America? In what ways is it not, as King warns on page 249, an outright victory or triumph?

15. King offers Bill-C31 and the Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples as examples of government legislation which harmed Native people (167, 170). How do Bill-C45 and the Idle No More Movement or other recent government legislations relate to this? In what ways has the Canadian government evolved in its treatment of Natives since the colonial period, and in what ways is it similar?

16. How has this book influenced your idea of how far North America has come and how much further it needs to go in regards to Native-Non-Native relations? What hope and what warning does King close his book with? What else do you think should be done to improve relations, rights, and reserves for Natives in North America?