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The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America Hardcover – Nov 13 2012

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday Canada; First edition (Nov. 13 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385664214
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385664219
  • Product Dimensions: 14.5 x 2.6 x 21.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 399 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #80,905 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


Nominated for the Canadian Booksellers Association Non-Fiction Book of the Year
FINALIST 2013 – Trillium Award
FINALIST 2013 – Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Non-Fiction

The Inconvenient Indian may well be unsettling for many non-natives in this country to read. This is exactly why we all should read it. Especially now.”
Vancouver Sun

“[The Inconvenient Indian is] couched in a plainspoken forthrightness that shocks as often as it demystifies. . . . It is essential reading for everyone who cares about Canada and who seeks to understand native people, their issues and their dreams. . . . Thomas King is beyond being a great writer and storyteller, a lauded academic and educator. He is a towering intellectual. For native people in Canada, he is our Twain; wise, hilarious, incorrigible, with a keen eye for the inconsistencies that make us and our society flawed, enigmatic, but ultimately powerful symbols of freedom. The Inconvenient Indian is less an indictment than a reassurance that we can create equality and harmony. A powerful, important book.”
The Globe and Mail

The Inconvenient Indian is a book of stories with a lot of history in it. It may well be the best analysis of how Native people have existed, and still exist, in North America. . . . What a gift this book is. What gratitude we owe this wise and gracious and frisky writer. . . . Even if you think you know North American Aboriginal history, you will be richly engaged by the stories [King] tells. And if you don’t know it, this is a fine place to begin.”
The Chronicle Journal

“Sharply intellectual and informative, yet humourous and delightfully human, King unearths the myths and misunderstandings about Aboriginal peoples – and there is certainly a lot to dig up. If it’s an act of solidarity and outstanding creative non-fiction you’re after, get yourself a copy of The Inconvenient Indian.”
—Amber Dawn, National Post

“Every Canadian should read Thomas King’s new book, The Inconvenient Indian. . . . It’s funny, it’s readable, and it makes you think. If you have any kind of a social conscience, The Inconvenient Indian will also make you angry.”
Toronto Star

“King uses stories to turn history upside down. Or perhaps it is more accurate to say that he presents history with a candour and honesty rarely found in usual accounts of the interaction of aboriginals and non-aboriginals.”
The Winnipeg Free Press

“What makes it all palatable, and at times nearly pleasurable, is King’s gift of irony. He’s a master of the lethal one-liner. . . .  King wants to make his readers smile even as they wince. . . . This book includes painful reminders of the huge injustices done to Indians in the past. It also sets out a few reasons why the future may be better.”
Calgary Herald

“Brilliantly insightful. . . . Humour aside, this is an unflinching, occasionally fierce work. Natives are often chided for dwelling too much on the past, yet if this book proves anything, it’s that it behooves all of us to do a lot more of exactly that.”
Quill & Quire

The Inconvenient Indian [is] a remarkable narrative of native culture, policy, and history in North America. It’s also a powerful reality check.”
The Hill Times

“Subversive, entertaining, well-researched, hilarious [and] enraging. . . . In this thoughtful, irascible account, and in characteristically tricksterish mode, King presents a provocative alternative version of Canada’s heritage narrative.”
—RBC Taylor Prize Jury

The Inconvenient Indian exposes and makes accessible, perhaps for the first time, our perspective of events that have shaped this continent. King is reclaiming our true lived experience in the tradition of our storytellers and artists. He brings humour, razor sharp analysis and insight, compelling every reader to confront the uncomfortable and urgent reality of our peoples today. His voice makes a fundamental contribution to the effort required to engage in understanding and respect for a dignified and just way forward for all who today call this land home.”
—National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo
"Fascinating, often hilarious, always devastatingly truthful, The Inconvenient Indian is destined to become a classic of historical narrative. For those who wish to better understand Native peoples, it is a must read. For those who don't wish to understand, it is even more so."
—Joseph Boyden
“Not since Eduardo Galeano's astonishing trilogy, Memory of Fire, have I read an account of European contact and the Amerindian experience as  full of wit, compassion, humour, irony and pathos as this wonderful and brilliant new book by Thomas King. At moments I found myself laughing aloud, at others wiping a tear from my eye.”
—Wade Davis

“A book of incredible range and genius. From the iconography of the ‘Indian,’ sedimented in everyday objects from butter to missiles, to the ongoing economic war waged against First Nations peoples across North America, Thomas King is magisterial in this devastating and comprehensive dissection of history, contemporary politics and culture. His analysis is incisive, the seam of irony running through his prose, as affable as a filet knife.”
—Dionne Brand

About the Author

THOMAS KING is one of Canada's premier Native public intellectuals. For the past five decades, he has worked as an activist for Native causes, as an administrator in Native programs, and has taught Native literature and history at universities in the U.S. and Canada. King was the first Aboriginal person to deliver the prestigious Massey Lectures, and is also the bestselling, award-winning author of five novels and two collections of short stories.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Ken Kardash on Dec 30 2012
Format: Hardcover
Living in the generation of the 500th anniversaries of various European "settlements" of North America, I have always wondered about the story from the point of view of those who were here first. From the cover and subtitle I had the impression that the focus of this book would be early contact between invading and native cultures throughout North America. Instead, the scope is broader in time and narrower in geography. This is not a criticism, but for those more interested in the former angle on things, Charles Mann's 1491 and 1493 are pretty hard to beat.

Thomas King sets out to convey what the long history of European "settlement", right up to the present day, feels like from an Indian's point of view. As he points out in the Preface, his is not a scholarly dissertation and is free of footnotes. This is why, at his wife's urging we are told, the word "account" replaced "history" in the subtitle. A master storyteller, he uses instead an anecdotal, conversational style that carries the reader back and forth across the Canada - U.S border and the centuries. His justifiable rage at the litany of mistreatments and abuses of Indians is palpable. What saves the book from being unreadably depressing are his comically sarcastic interjections, which had me laughing out loud at times despite myself. The only improvement would have been to take another of his wife's suggestions and avoid indulging in occasional detailed lists of atrocities. These break the narrative flow that is more powerful when he fleshes out selected incidents in human detail, like the murder of Indian youths by police officers in modern-day Saskatoon.

Because of his breezy style, I felt swept along despite the difficult subject matter.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Aleta Karstad on Dec 15 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Again, Tom King shows us both sides of the box - the inside and the outside. This book is essential reading for all thoughtful citizens of North America. Information-packed but very readable, the book is woven throughout by Tom King's wit. Every page has something you just must read aloud or share somehow. A real gem! I finished the book with a feeling of hope that perhaps if enough people read it, the world will change for the better.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Rodge TOP 50 REVIEWER on Feb. 18 2014
Format: Paperback
Undoubtedly, those who pay little attention to history need to read this book. And that covers 90% of us, doesn't it. King reveals, not in a scholarly way, but in the way of a skilled storyteller, just how poorly the "Indians" of this continent have been treated. Starting perhaps with how silly it is to think of them monolithically, when they're really many separate nations. King is bitterly funny in this book, which won't surprise you if you've read anything else he's written.

However, this book does have serious flaws. One gets the sense that the First Nations of this country are powerless and waiting for outside help at this point. King does counter that at times, but weakly in my view. It is also fair to note that natives are at a serious power disadvantage, and the cultural structures in place have often been designed intentionally or otherwise to hold them back. Nonetheless, this overarching pessimism is a problem.

This also leads into the other problem, which is that King doesn't seem to know what a successful future looks like. He does give us a few examples of instances where something workable does seem to have been established, but that's as far as he goes. You may argue that's far enough, but it does hold this book back. In the main, it becomes a list of grievances, well told to be sure, but still a list of grievances. You judge if that's enough.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Jones on July 19 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have just finished reading Thomas King's "The Inconvenient Indian" a very insightful view on how North Americans, both native and non native have come to this place at this
It was written by a native and his opinions and arguments are extremely well thought out (6 years in research and writing) and he has managed to lay it all out in such a way that will keep you turning pages. Riddled with humorous anecdotes and undeniable facts he weaves the plight of the natives in a real and understandable way that few, if any, have to date.
I believe that if this book were put into the school curriculum, future generations might well be better equipped to negotiate more amicably as ongoing and future treaties are dealt with.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Chris Faiers on April 29 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This summer at PurdyFest #8 we are studying the poetry & legacy of Pauline Johnson as we work our way back through the history of Canadian People's Poetry. A First Nations friend & I were discussing preparations for the upcoming symposium on Johnson, & my friend said she doesn't like Johnson's poetry, & that she feels Johnson was mainly known for her half-Mohawk heritage, a 'professional Indian' so to speak. My friend very strongly recommended as a counter to Johnson that I read the recent book THE INCONVENIENT INDIAN by another First Nations author, Thomas King.

I have duly followed my friend's excellent advice, and I have finished the King book & marked key parts for reference. I am also jumping around enjoying FLINT AND FEATHER: THE COMPLETE POEMS OF E. PAULINE JOHNSON (TEKAHIONWAKE). In the back of my mind, while I'm absorbing the King & Johnson books, is another relevant work I read a few years ago, not long after it was published, A FAIR COUNTRY by John Ralston Saul. Saul is a White man (a term King uses), & his book is more formal & limited in scope than King's, but with a very central & interesting thesis.

So this is a real reading mash-up, which should answer the smaller questions, for me at least, about Johnson's poetic & political legacy & modern relevance. But these books & authors will also help us to frame the much larger issues facing Canadian society, & even the planet. With global climate change bearing down on our tiny blue marble with unforgiving speed, it may well be First Nations & their control of key territories which will help block & stop transnational pipelines, dams, reckless mining & other activities which are the key contributors to this human-caused planetary blight.
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