The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King

The Inconvenient Indian

By Thomas King

  • Release Date: 2012-11-13
  • Genre: Americas
Score: 4.5
4.5
From 85 Ratings
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Description

WINNER of the 2014 RBC Taylor Prize
The Inconvenient Indian is at once a “history” and the complete subversion of a history—in short, a critical and personal meditation that the remarkable Thomas King has conducted over the past 50 years about what it means to be “Indian” in North America.
 
Rich with dark and light, pain and magic, this book distills the insights gleaned from that meditation, 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.

From the Hardcover edition.

Reviews

  • Have no fear

    5
    By kylegoestowhitecastle
    An excellent account that manages to dissect a heavy subject matter and leave no stone unturned in its supporting evidence. Humour, wit, and personal anecdotes keep the pages turning even when King gets into the nitty-gritty.
  • Actually read book

    5
    By Diureadthis
    This is a highly intelligent explanation of First Nations gripes in Canada and provides interested Canadians with the context and perspectives of those they largely misunderstand. A thoughtful and helpful account of the history from the First Nations perspective to assist us in understanding how we got to where we are today on both sides of the table. Reviews by FRSKY provide those considering the book a taste of the ignorance faced by Aboriginals. While quoting Trudeau, the reviewer ignores the most important part of the Trudeau quote in that he is comparing "Indians" with those who came here. That's just it... Indians were already here. Somewhat different than Trudeau wrongly asserted. In terms of Trudeau's blanket statement about First Nations land rights and entitlements? A convenient view given the fact Trudeau was at the helm of the Defendant in land claims. History's in fact cleared that up and proved such statements wrong through recent historic Supreme Court of Canada decisions. the issue here for the reader is about the readers motives. If you wish to learn, be enlightened and presented the perspective of the other guy... And through witty prose... Then this is the book for you. This is the book that answers the question: what are the Indians so upset about? What is their problem? You might not like the answer.
  • Okay

    5
    By Ashley Reeve 71
    This last guy is obviously being a racist a hole, probably white.
  • Thought-provoking

    5
    By Tricoloured Beech
    I'm with the last reviewer. This book was witty and interesting. Not since "Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee" has the Indian perspective been so well presented. I'm not sure the guy who wrote the puffed up soliloquy did much more than scan through the book looking for things he could take exception to. I kept wondering if he read the same book I did. I really enjoyed the writing style. King used humor to make his points. He obviously did a lot of research and it was good to read his refreshing and tenable point of view.
  • Subversive, brilliant

    5
    By Afterthekidsleave
    I couldn't agree less with the previous reviewer. I too read the book in two days, and was completely absorbed and fascinated. King peels back the layers of deception and broken treaties and reveals an ugly, indisputable truth: Indian history has never been about Indians. It's always been about Whites. This isn't a "history" in the academic sense--it's a gathering and juxtaposition of facts, a revealing look at the underlying attitudes that have shaped the "Indian question" since the earliest days of European contact. If you're looking for footnotes, look elsewhere. If you're looking for reality, come on in.
  • The Inconvenient Indian

    2
    By frsky now
    Although I read Mr. King's work in two sittings, I hated it. I think the Indian hobbyists and legal Indians are one and the same-they both take themselves too seriously. Indians need somebody or something to free them from themselves, they are not moving forward along the linear continuum of civilization. In an excerpt from the book, I agree with then-PM Trudeau-" There is no such thing as Indian entitlement to land, or Native Rights-give up your reserves and assimilate. Everyone expects all people (coming into) this country to do that". The author suggests throughout, that it is up to Canada and the U.S. to "keep promises" to the Indians. What, if anything, have these countries ever got from them? Nothing! The Indians, sad as it is, must learn to take care of themselves, it is not the governments job any longer, nor should it be...no matter how much Mr. King whines. The Indians have no concept of what the "National Interest" is. Their idea is that everybody should run around, half-starved, living off the land, in tents to eke out an existence. No wonder there is a problem. Thomas King is of the opinion that Indians should be able to occupy land, do nothing in the way of work, nothing to further society, and live tax-free. Wow-I spent how much on this book? He talks about the plight of the poor Mikmaq after 1944. Unbeknown to the native parties involved, Canada was busy fighting a war, and building houses for somebody wasn't high on their priority list. Make fun of the white-man's bombs that ended the war Mr. King...I'm sure Mr. Hito or Mr. Hitler would have been thrilled to find accommodations for the poor Indians. He goes on to say on the next page how the economy after the war really heated up, once the threat of Fascism was extinguished by White, European, Canadian and American forces, but how the poor Mikmaq couldn't find work. There was plenty of work, still is, but Indians feel as though they are exempt. King's book full of insults towards the white-man continue, by saying that white society is greedy, pompous and mean-spirited. Sounds a little like what I think of most Indians. He also makes fun of the pale-faces attempt to introduce Christianity, and the Carlisle model, and the Christian Brothers to give him a vocation. Had he not gotten this education, he may not have become the author he is. He jabs our government over incompetence, indifference and chicanery-happens here-happens with band councils more so! The whites and immigrants don't mind getting pushed up the "cattle chute of capitalism". The Indians should just get a free ride, if I read King correctly. What are the "traditional Indian goals and aspirations" that King mentions? I doubt he, or any other Indian would be unable to identify any. What goals and aspirations could they possibly seek that would both put food on their dinner table and benefit society at large? Canadian Indian Policy is not a failure, the Indians are. I don't feel bad about saying that, I've just read 387 pages where the salvos are directed at me! And at the end of Chapter 6, he says he doesn't want to be provocative-he most assuredly is. He whines about the government coming in to take their share of the gambling pie from Indian Casinos. He should know that anybody that makes any money, or works, for that matter (which would exclude a hell of a lot of Indians), has to pay income tax. White casinos give the bulk of their earnings to local charities. Nor does he mention that the vast majority of casino patrons are Indians in spending their welfare or treaty money cheques. "Governments and politicians with their hand in the Indian till". Puhhhhlease! The first rule of Racism-"think it-but don't speak it out loud". What a hypocrite this guy is. He thinks the Canadian Indian lacrosse team should have just jolly-well got to England without passports...Hello-everybody else needs them, no exemptions! I think the government is living up to it's "obligations" to me, why in hell don't the Indians? Thomas King speaks of companies that have gotten handouts from the government, and makes fun of them. Air Canada, Bombardier, GM, Alberta Oilsands. He fails to realize that these companies make it possible to travel abroad, go to work, drive wherever you need to, and help to keep me from freezing to death, by providing heating fuel for my furnace. At least these companies have a lot of GIVE and a lot less TAKE. Which is a heck of a lot more than I can say for the protagonists of his story. Wouldn't it be something if the French, English, Metis et al, engaged in the blood-quantum nonsense, that a lot of the Indians do. Here in Canada it is a melting-pot, not a stew pot, as King suggests. He's forgetting that the Europeans themselves have been here for over 500 years, and if he doesn't think they have the right to "call the shots" then he is sadly mistaken. The Indians have proved hundreds of times that they will just "drop the ball", they aren't ready to handle the obligations of living in harmony with those who can, could and would improve their lot. King offers no solutions throughout the whole book, and it's easy for him to go on and on and on about land claims-on land that the Indians never paid a nickel for. They might as well fight, they have nothing to lose, and sadly, in most cases, nothing better to do. To close I'd like to just reiterate what King says in the final chapter. "Things have changed, get over it".

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