Thomas King isn’t one for political correctness. Unlike most redskins, he doesn’t care what you call him: Native, first nation, aboriginal, Indian… He just asks that you don’t consider him inconvenient. He asks that you acknowledge his people. Such his the attitude he expresses in his new non-fiction book “An Inconvenient Indian” A Curious Account of Native People in North America“. Why he uses the term curious will become apparent once one starts reading this detailed and unapologetic history of the first peoples of Canada and the United States, going back several hundred years.
While the story (or stories) outlined in the book are at times quite brutal, King delivers in a frank but witty way. Honest, cynical, ironic, and everything in between, there is a reason why Thomas King has become one of Canada‘s most renowned and respected first nations writers. He has a knowledge and collection of information that is second to none and writes down things that are barely known to the public, let alone talked about or even acknowledged outside of native circles.
To some, it may appear that King hates the government. While this might be true – and probably is to a certain extent – it is important to note that he run for the NDP in the 2008 Federal Election in an Ontario riding (he didn’t win). But are first nations in office at the moment – The NDP’s Romeo Saganash and the Conservative Party’s Leona Aglukkaq being the most prominent. Actress and producer Tina Keeper – most famous for her role on North of 60 – served a term for the Liberal Party from 2006-2008. Like most Canadians, first nations are quite diverse, with their beliefs spanning across political lines. But no matter which party is in power, according to King, native issues seem to get left behind.
King goes to great detail (great pains perhaps) to enumerate many of the battles that took place between the white man and North America’s first settlers. Included are several altercations far bloodier than Little Big Horn. Politics isn’t the only area King attacks. Hollywood gets its fair share of criticism – either from having white men play Indians, to movies always showing Indians as vicious barbarians or films that merely show them as sidekicks… none of which King is particularly pleased (nor are they true for that matter). Perhaps now that this book has been written, first nations will get some attention. Idle No More certainly can’t hurt. This book is definitely a good read. History buffs, social justice advocates, Native students and even just regular old bookworms will enjoy what Thomas King has to offer.
“An Inconvenient Indian” was released last August by Random House.