Aboriginal Fiction To Celebrate Aboriginal Awareness Week

Join the Windsor Public Library this week in celebrating Aboriginal Awareness Week. Taking place May 20-23, AAW was created to honour the Aboriginal people of Canada and to bring attention to issues affecting the Native and Indigenous members of our community. In commemoration of this event, WPL has been promoting organizations and resources that can provide information on Aboriginal peoples and culture. We have already highlighted organizations in the Windsor-Essex County area that serve the Aboriginal community and talked about WPL’s non-fiction collection dedicated to information on Canada’s Indigenous peoples. This final post will focus on some of the literature and fiction written by Canadian Aboriginal authors that is available at WPL. This is just a small selection of the many works we carry written by authors of Aboriginal descent.

                                                                                                                                                     Green Grass, Running Water (1993) by Thomas King

Cherokee author Thomas King depicts the struggle to find balance between the modern world and Native tradition in the uproarious Green Grass, Running Water. A disparate cast of characters descends upon the town of Blossom, Alberta to attend the Blackfoot reservation’s sacred Sun Dance ceremony. Among these characters are university professor Alberta Frank, who would like to trade her two boyfriends for a baby (but no husband); forty year old TV salesman Lionel; Eli, whose log cabin stands in the way of a profitable dam project; and four Native American elders who recently escaped from a mental institution. Guided by the trickster Coyote, these character’s separate stories will eventually intertwine, and the small town of Blossom will never be the same again. This novel is a brilliant mix of strong characters, folklore, and comedy.  

Kiss Of The Fur Queen (1998) by Tomson Highway

Two Cree brothers, Champion and Ooneemeetoo Okimasis, are torn from their family and are thrust into a Catholic residential school. Thrown into this hostile world, the brothers endure abuse by priests, are forbade from using their language, and are forced to change their names. As they grow into young men, estranged from their own people and alienated from the culture imposed on them, the Okimasis brothers fight to survive. Along the way they receive help from the Fur Queen, a shape-shifting trickster who watches over them as they fulfill their destiny to become artists. The Globe and Mail described Kiss Of The Fur Queen as “a novel that dances with life,” and is a work filled with humour, heartbreak and love.

Monkey Beach (2000) by Eden Robinson

Monkey Beach tells the story of Lisa Hill, a fiery 20-year old whose little brother is lost at sea. As the Coast Guard searches for her brother’s missing boat, Lisa sits at home ruminating over their shared childhood. Through Lisa’s flashbacks, Robinson introduces the unforgettable characters of the Hill family: Lisa’s grandmother, Ma-ma-oo, who refuses to relinquish her Haisla traditions; her parents, who struggle to reconcile the ways of Western and Native American culture; and her Uncle Mick, a Native American activist (and obsessive Elvis fan). Monkey Beach is a powerful and engaging novel depicting the bonds of family and Lisa’s journey of self-realization.

The Orenda (2013) by Joseph Boyden

From the Giller Prize winning author of Through Black Spruce comes a literary work telling the blood-soaked brutality of our country’s formative years. Snow Falls is a young Iroquois girl who is kidnapped following the brutal massacre of her tribe. Her captor, Bird, is an elder of the Huron Nation’s great warriors who sees in Snow Falls the ghost of his lost daughter. While Bird’s people have battled the Iroquois for as long as he can remember, both tribes now face a new threat: the charismatic Jesuit missionary Christophe and his fellow European settlers. The narration is shared between Bird, Snow Falls and Christophe, whose stories weave together to depict the battles from which Canada emerged. The Orenda is the winner of CBC’s 2014 Canada Reads competition and has been dubbed by the National Post as “timeless” and “a classic.” 

Medicine Walk (2014) by Richard Wagamese

Richard Wagamese is the celebrated author of Canada Reads Finalist Indian Horse. His newest novel, Medicine Walk, is a redemptive story about an estranged father and son. Sixteen year old Franklin Starlight is called to visit his dying father, Eldon, who asks his son to take him on a 40 mile trek into the mountains so he may be buried in the traditional Ojibway manner. The ensuing journey takes the pair through the rugged and beautiful backcountry of B.C. where Eldon’s past is revealed to his son. Medicine Walk reveals the ultimate goodness of its characters and offers a deeply moving conclusion. Recommended for readers of Joseph Boyden, Cormac McCarthy and Russell Banks.

Visit the Windsor Public Library for these and many more titles written by Aboriginal authors. Ask your local branch for recommendations and join us in celebrating Aboriginal Awareness Week.

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