Winter Book Study

The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America, by Thomas King, is the subject of our Winter Book Study this year, suggested by Ruth Gill, coordinator of West Hill's First Nations Study Group. Ruth convinced those gathered to choose the book for this year's study that King's book warranted their attention by sharing her own perceptions of it; "It is highly entertaining, devastatingly truthful, and makes one feel ashamed at times at the actions of our forefathers. It raises questions in our minds as to what our present day governments are about. It opens our eyes ... It is a must read for anyone who is even lightly interested in learning more about and understanding native people and the relationship between First Nations and Europeans... It is an outstanding read!"  

From the opening chapter, "About fifteen years back, a bunch of us got together to form a drum group. John Samosi, one of our lead singers, suggested we call ourselves 'The Pesky Redskins.' Since we couldn't sing all that well, John argued, we needed a name that would make people smile and encourage them to overlook our musical deficiences. ...
"I had forgotten about 'Pesky Redskins' but it must have been kicking around in my brain because, when I went looking for a title for this book, something with a bit of irony to it, there it was.
"PeskyRedskins: A Curious History of Indians in North America.
"Problem was, no one else liked the title.  Several people I trust told me that Pesky Redskins sounded too flip and, in the end, I had to agree. Native people haven't been so much pesky as we've been ... inconvenient.  Author Thomas King applies his wit and wisdom to non-fiction.
"So I changed the title to The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious History of Native People in North America, at which point my partner, Helen Hoy, who teaches English at the University of Guelph, weighed in, cautioning that "history" might be too grand a word for what I was attempting.  Benjamin, who is finishing a Ph.D. in History at Stanford, agreed with his mother and pointed out that if I was going to call the book a history, I would be obliged to pay attention to the demands of scholarship and work within an organized and clearly delineated chronology.  
"Now, it's not that I think such things as chronologies are a bad idea, but I'm somewhat attached to the Ezra Pound School of History. While not suscribing to his political beliefs, I do agree with Pound that 'We do NOT know the past in chronological sequence.  It may be convenient to lay it out anesthetized on the table with dates pasted on here and there, but what we know we know by ripples and spirals eddying out from us and from our own time.'
"There's nothing like a good quotation to help a body escape an onerous task.
So I tweaked the title one more time, swapped the word 'history' for 'account,' and settled on The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America. Mind  you, there is a great deal in The Inconvenient Indian that is history. I'm just not the historian you had in mind."

Join us at 7:30 at the church every other Friday (with a few changes of dates due to other calendar obligations - call the office to make sure of dates) beginning on January 10th.  It's going to be a great read!

 

gretta