The Inconvenient Indian

The Inconvenient Indian

A Curious Account Of Native People In North America

Book - 2013
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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.
Publisher: Toronto : Doubleday Canada : Anchor Canada, 2013.
ISBN: 9780385664219
Characteristics: xvi, 288 p. ; 22 cm. (Doubleday)
314 p. ; 21 cm.


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Aug 13, 2019

I had high hopes of learning about "Indians" when I started the book. The first chapters were interesting, and the witty humour helped. However, as I read along, the style became bitter, oppressive, negative. It is known that history has put down the Indians and that the present system is not perfect. But I am a believer that if you want to rally forces to your cause, you don't start by criticizing their efforts to reconciliation. I felt so oppressed that I ended up just browsing the book and closing it.

Jun 04, 2019

"The Inconvenient Indian: a curious account of native people in North America" by Thomas King has the one attribute that always makes a book worthwhile: it's readable. King is an academic who writes beautifully. It's not full of jargon. It's light. It's interesting. It's understandable. And there is wit and humour throughout. The topic is dead serious and I doubt I would have got through it had anyone else wrote it. I'm thankful that Tom King wrote this. Definitely would recommend it.

Aug 18, 2018

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

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!

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

Jun 15, 2017

Entertaining, if biased, history.

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.

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.

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.

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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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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.”

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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