Monday, April 15, 2013

An annotated bibliography: suggested readings in Canadian Native Literature

Acoose, Janice (Red Sky Woman.) Neither Indian Princess nor Easy Squaw. Toronto: Woman’s Press, 1995.
One woman’s journey from pain to understanding, but not total acceptance.

Campbell, Maria, trans. Stories of the Road Allowance People. Ill. By Sherry Farrell Racette. Penticton: Theytus Books, 1995.
In this beautifully illustrated book, Campbell retells Metis stories that sing the way the original versions must have.

Grant, Agnes, ed. Our Bit of Truth. Winnipeg: Pemmican Publications Inc., 1990.
Comprehensive anthology prepared for use in schools. Criticized since some material included is not from “authentic sources”. Dr. Grant is the Director of the Brandon University Teacher Education Program.

Hoy, Helen. How Should I Read This? Native Woman Writes in Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2001.
Perceptive essays about the problems involved in reading and teaching a variety of works by Native women authors from the viewpoint of a cultural outsider.

Johnston, Basil. Ill. by Maxine Noel (Ioyan Maue). Mermaids and Medicine Women. Native Myths and Legends. Toronto: Royal Ontario Museum, 1998.

An acknowledged expert on Ojibway culture, Basil Johnston was born on the Parry Island Reserve in 1929. He is an ethnologist, nonfiction writer, essayist, short story writer, autobiographer and educator. He recently retired from the ethnology department of the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto.
A beautifully illustrated collection of native tales.

Johnston, Basil. Ill. by Shirley Cheechoo. Tales the Elders told. Toronto: Royal Ontario Museum, 1981.
The first collection of tales Johnston collected as part of his job at the museum.

Johnston, Basil. Moose Meat and Wild Rice. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1993.
A very funny collection of stories about life on a modern Indian reserve called Moose Meat Point.

King, Thomas, ed. All my relations. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1990.
Excellent introduction to Canadian native writers of fiction from a leading native writer. Contains a wide range of writing styles.

King, Thomas, ill. by Johnny Wales. Coyote sings to the moon. Toronto: Key Porter Kids, 1998.
A delightful picture book about why Coyote “sings” to moon every night. Watercolour illustrations suit the mood of the story very well. Suitable for ages 3 and up.
(See also – A Coyote Columbus Story and King’s adult novels Medicine River and Green Grass, Running Water)

King, Thomas. One Good Story That One. Toronto: HarperPerennial, 1993.
Very humorous collection short stories. Several stories feature Coyote, that eternal trickster figure.

King, Thomas and Catherine Mattes, guest editors. Prairie Fire. First Voices, First Words. Vol. 22, No. 3. October, 2001.
An excellent collection includes five commentaries from Joe of Winnipeg (Ian Ross) and reproductions of native fine art.

King, Thomas. The Truth About Stories A Native Narrative. Toronto: House of Anansi, 2003.
These essays were broadcast as the 2003 Massey Lectures, on the CBC radio program, Ideas.

King, Thomas, Cheryl Calver and Helen Hoy, eds. The Native in Literature. Toronto: ECW Press, 1987.
Papers presented at the Native in Literature conference held at the University of Lethbridge, 1984. Includes papers about images in literature of indigenous peoples in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada; religious images of Indians in the writing of Charles Gordon and Rudy Wiebe; and the imposition of western literary standards on native writing.

Lutz, Hartmut. Contemporary Challenges Conversations with CANADIAN NATIVE AUTHORS. SK: Fifth House Publishers, 1991.
Interesting conversations with major Canadian native authors. Very useful for background information as authors discuss the issues they deal with in their writing.

Maki, Joel T., ed. Steal My Rage New Native Voices. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 1995.
Maki, Joel T., ed. Let the Drums Be Your Heart New Native Voices. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 1996.
Steal My Rage grew out of a project sponsored in 1993 by Na-Me-Res, an aboriginal organization in Toronto. A national call for submissions resulted in hundreds of responses: 34 native writers were chosen for this book.
Let the Drums Be Your Heart was sponsored by The Native Writers Development Project and presents 40 new and emerging Canadian native writers.
The quality of writing in these anthologies tends to be uneven, but they serve as good introductions to new/emerging native writers.

Moses, Daniel David and Terry Goldie, eds. An Anthology of Canadian Native Literature in English. 2nd edition. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1998.
An excellent overview of native Canadian writing. First edition was published in 1992. Should be in every library in Canada.

New, W. H., ed. Native Writers Canadian Writing. Vancouver: UBC Press, 1990.
Special double issue of Canadian Literature, bound as a book. Contains thoughtful criticism interwoven with native poetry. One article of note: Margaret Atwood writes about two of Thomas King’s short stories.

Petrone, Penny. Native Literature in Canada. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1990.
Comprehensive overview of the growth of native literature in Canada.

Robinson, Eden. Monkey Beach. Toronto: Alfred A. Knopf, 2000.
Finalist for the 2000 Giller Prize. Robinson creates strong characters and uses humor to draw us into her world of the Northern Pacific coast.
(see also – Traplines – her first novel)

Taylor, Drew Hayden. Funny, you don’t look like one. Observations from a blue-eyed Ojibway. Penticton: Theytus Books Ltd., 1996.
Collected essays and articles that originally appeared in a number of publications including The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, and This Magazine. A very perceptive writer, Drew Taylor makes us laugh while pointing out the many foibles of everyday life – from the perspective of a young Ojibway.

Taylor, Drew Hayden. Futile observations of a blue-eyed Ojibway. Penticton: Theytus Books Ltd., 2004.
The final book in the series. Note the change in the title. Taylor turned 40 while writing the pieces in this collection.

Taylor has also written several plays and has traveled widely speaking about his unique point of view.
Trout, Lawana. Native American Literature: An Anthology. Illinois: NTC/Contemporary Publishing Group, 1999.

Prepared as a school text for use in American schools. Includes discussion questions and suggested activities. Good reference.

Waubageshig (Harvey McCue) ed. The Only Good Indian. Don Mills: New Press, 1974.
Waubageshig is an Ojibway from Snake Island of the Georgina Island Reserve in Lake Simcoe, Ontario. He helped to found the Department of Native Studies at Trent University where he taught for 14 years. He has served as the Director of Education, Cree School Board in northern Quebec, the Director General of Indian Education at Indian Affairs, and the founding CEO of the Mikmaq Education Authority in Nova Scotia. He now works as an consultant in Ottawa.

The first book published in Canada that was commissioned, planned and written entirely by natives. Includes essays, excerpts from treaties, a play and a beautiful series of poems by Duke Redbird. Chief Dan George’s piece is especially moving.

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