The Inconvenient Indian

The Inconvenient Indian

A Curious Account of Native People in North America

Book - 2013
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In The Inconvenient Indian , Thomas King offers a deeply knowing, darkly funny, unabashedly opinionated, and utterly unconventional account of Indian-White relations in North America since initial contact. Ranging freely across the centuries and the Canada-U.S. border, King debunks fabricated stories of Indian savagery and White heroism, takes an oblique look at Indians (and cowboys) in film and popular culture, wrestles with the history of Native American resistance and his own experiences as a Native rights activist, and articulates a profound, revolutionary understanding of the cumulative effects of ever-shifting laws and treaties on Native peoples and lands.

Suffused with wit, anger, perception, and wisdom, The Inconvenient Indian is at once an engaging chronicle and a devastating subversion of history, insightfully distilling what it means to be "Indian" in North America. It is a critical and personal meditation that sees Native American history not as a straight line but rather as a circle in which the same absurd, tragic dynamics are played out over and over again. At the heart of the dysfunctional relationship between Indians and Whites, King writes, is land: "The issue has always been land." With that insight, the history inflicted on the indigenous peoples of North America--broken treaties, forced removals, genocidal violence, and racist stereotypes--sharpens into focus. Both timeless and timely, The Inconvenient Indian ultimately rejects the pessimism and cynicism with which Natives and Whites regard one another to chart a new and just way forward for Indians and non-Indians alike.

Publisher: Minneapolis : University of Minnesota Press, 2013
ISBN: 9780816689767
0816689768
Characteristics: xvi, 287 pages ; 22 cm

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Delightful, accessible and a great way to answer folks questions about "Why is there all this talk about truth and reconciliation?" Well, here's the truth part.

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darcyhudjik
Aug 18, 2018

I loved this book! The author's views are really interesting, even funny at times. I definitely recommend The Inconvenient Indian.

j
JaneAnne1
May 15, 2018

The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King is essential reading for anyone hoping to understand the history of Indigenous-Settler relations in North America from an indigenous perspective. This book is readable, pokes fun at the absurd, and explains how Indigenous peoples have been cruelly treated by a system that has in every way been stacked against them. Read it!

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fenris23
Dec 21, 2017

An engaging and accessible overview of the history of indigenous peoples in North America. I found it emotionally affecting.

A subject not easily summed up in a short book, but worthily done by Thomas King. So much to cover, and a shameful history for sure, because it seems the more the US and Canadian governments try to regulate indigenous peoples the stickier and more restrictive things become, usually to the Inconvenient Indians' detriment.

And just how does a righteous invader properly deal with the occupying peoples? You might think that decimation by war, disease, marginalization, and forced assimilation would work just fine. But alas. So, here's to the resilient, strong, determined, and inconvenient Indians on both sides of the border. May they persevere and flourish.

Kris--Pt. Roberts

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mclarjh
Jun 15, 2017

Entertaining, if biased, history.

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sgcf
Mar 26, 2017

Thomas King’s flippant, tongue-in-cheek style softens his anecdotal history of the human rights abuses and genocide of North American Natives by 400 years of invading Europeans. But it also sharpens the full weight of the documented inhumane treatment of “Indians” – the desire to eradicate them physically and culturally, the land thefts, the arrogance of forced-then-broken treaties, the economic marginalizing. The book packs an essential wallop and is a must read for every white North American.

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pentlacj
Nov 15, 2016

An important book in order to critically understand North America's complete history; should be mandatory reading for university students. Brutally honest, yet cut with wit and the hope that relations between North America’s Natives and non-Aboriginals can improve.

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bdriedger
Jul 31, 2016

While King is an engaging writer, this book failed to meet my lofty expectations. He is an expert storyteller, and his book well-researched. However, his cynicism went from witty to grating, making the book at times almost unreadable for me.

I wanted someone to give it to me straight: what have we done wrong, how am I complicit in it, and how do we start making it right? This book showed flashes of promise, particularly when cataloguing Canada's dark history of exploitation and racism, but fell short on suggested solutions.

bickjd May 21, 2016

Fantastic!

Packed with deplorable realities and shocking facts, consider this an unconventional crash course in North American "Native" culture, history, and politics. The author’s facetious tone compliments the irony of “Indian Policy”. He holds no punches with his sharp wit:

“Indian policy has discouraged Indians from pursuing traditional goals and aspirations and continues to push us up the cattle chute of capitalism.” (page 117)

King shows how the truth emerges when asking “What do Whites want?”, instead of the historically deceptive—and more common—question: “What do Indians want?” (“Whites” representing the governments and dominant institutions of North America).

The Inconvenient Indian won the 2014 RBC Taylor Prize.

King teaches Native Literature and Creative Writing in Canada at the University of Guelph. His writing is entertaining, informative, and derisive. He sneaks in a lot of wisdom between recurring belly laughs and unsettling sighs.

“Individuals can fool you, and they can surprise you." (page 218)

Anyone interested in Native culture—more so anyone with an eye on the future—should read this book.

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anneholmquist
Dec 04, 2017

See photocopy.

AnneDromeda Mar 01, 2013

Readers interested in knowing the roots of the Idle No More movement need look no further than Thomas King’s The Inconvenient Indian. Guelph’s Thomas King may be familiar to you from his fiction (Green Grass, Running Water) or his old radio show on CBC Radio One, The Dead Dog Café Comedy Hour. Fans will be happy to know his trademark deadpan humour is captured abundantly here. By King’s own confession, he’s not much one for nonfiction writing. Of Cherokee and Greek heritage, he teaches in the English department at University of Guelph. To get to the truth of things, he’s more comfortable using stories than facts, an admission he freely offers in the introduction. As a result, he’s positioned this work more as an account of Aboriginal/colonial relations in North America than a formal history. Formal histories require footnotes and extensive documentation. As the book makes clear, extensive documentation hasn't done a lot of good for indigenous peoples. Stories, though? They carry a lot of truth a long way. The account is heartbreaking, but King renders the sorrow into something intriguing and even darkly funny with his style, which echoes Native orature in its cadence. He fearlessly tackles the many facets of Aboriginal history in North America that are typically left alone for lack of an adequately politically correct vocabulary. Wide in scope and full of history we weren't taught in school, The Inconvenient Indian is required reading for any politically savvy Canadian.

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mamabadger56
Jun 29, 2015

“A great many people in North America believe that Canada and the United States, in a moment of inexplicable generosity, gave treaty rights to Native people as a gift. Of course, anyone familiar with the history of Indians in North America knows that Native people paid for every treaty right, and in some cases, paid more than once. The idea that either country gave First Nations something for free is horseshit.”

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mamabadger56
Jun 29, 2015

“The fact is, the primary way that Ottawa and Washington deal with Native people is to ignore us. They know that the court system favors the powerful and the wealthy and the influential, and that, if we buy into the notion of an impartial justice system, tribes and bands can be forced through a long, convoluted, and expensive process designed to wear us down and bankrupt our economies."

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