Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Brett Rushforth, Bonds of Alliance; Indigenous & Atlantic Slaveries in New France

Dr Brett Rushforth is an associate professor of history and Director of Graduate Studies at the College of William and Mary in the United States. Brett has written a new book Bonds of Alliance that reviews the interactions between the settler society of New France and the Indian tribes with whom they traded.  While generally not know to the general public, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, French colonists and their Native allies participated in a slave trade that spanned half of North America, carrying thousands of Native Americans into bondage in the Great Lakes, Canada, and the Caribbean. The book looks a vast geographic and chronological scope carefully dissects the lives of various enslaved individuals and masters, this book gives voice to those who lived through the ordeal of slavery and, along the way, shaped French and Native societies.


Rather than telling a simple story of colonial domination and Native victimization, Brett argues that Indian slavery in New France emerged at the nexus of two very different forms of slavery based on different political needs: one indigenous to North America and the other rooted in the Atlantic world. The alliances that bound French and Natives together forced a century-long negotiation over the nature of slavery and its place in early American society. Neither fully Indian nor entirely French, slavery in New France drew upon and transformed indigenous and Atlantic cultures in complex and surprising ways.

We discussed the large slave trade that existed in Indians in New France’s territories, the ideas surrounding different types of customary adoption, sexual violence, children and slavery, the marking of bodies, the terms used to describe slave (I make you my Dog), secondary wives, the political consequences (alliances) of owning Indian slaves, the idea that Indians make for bad slaves versus Africa-American slaves etc…

The book was published by the University of North Carolina Press.

To Learn More (interview & podcast)


Friday, 18 May 2012

Children's author Peter Eyvindson about Kookum's Red Shoes

This is an interview with children's author Peter Eyvindson about his new book published by Pemmican, called Kookum's Red Shoes. It looks at the story related to Residential Schools and how this history should be introduced to young children and the value of this story.

Peter met an elder grandmother many years ago who was always going to the local school to check on the children. He discovered the reason why she was so protective of the children. As a young child the Kookum was is taken away from her home to live in a residential school. Wanting very much to leave, Kookum decided that only by being good will she be released. After all, Kookum only wants to be with her parents and her baby brother and to wear her bright red shoes. The Shoes had been bought just before the authorities came to take her. Her parents gave her this gift after they had seen the Wizard of Oz in the local small town theatre.

Peter Eyvindson's Kookum's Red Shoes is a story of one girl's strength in the face of oppression. Sheldon Dawson (Illustrator) has provided great pictures in vibrante colors to compliment Kookum's story. My children loved the book so much that they would not put it down.

The discussion talked about the church, how one goes about introducing such a dark story to small children, violence both surface and subsurface (Peter did not have any overt violence in the book), Peter's reasons for wanting to write the story and the length of time it took to find a courageous publisher willing to put this story in print.

To Learn More (interview & Podcast):

Friday, 11 May 2012

Richard Wagamese's Indian Horse, a true Hockey Night in Canada

For those who are missing hockey here is a magnificent conversation with Richard Wagamese about his new book Indian Horse. Indian Horse is the story of Saul Indian Horse (Ojibway) who is raised in northern Ontario in a traditional family in the 1960s. Saul is eventually sent to St-Jerome Indian Residential School where he must suffer terrible horrors against his physical and spiritual self. Saul eventually finds some salvation through a new sport the 11 year old had never encountered before. Hockey was introduced by a new young priest at the Residential school, Father Gaston Leboutilier, as a means to train and interest the older boys. The story almost becomes one of the quintessential hockey success story of unbridled natural talent carved out of the Canadian northern rock. While Saul is initially not allowed to play the new sport he gains the admiration and confidence of Father Leboutilier. Saul and Leboutlier become very close as he is able to shield young Saul from many of the abuses of the IRS.
Saul due to his hockey talent then begins a new journey discovering the Canada of the 1960s and early 1970s, one based on ideals of equality and hard work, but not for any dirty Indian. He will eventually retrace his steps and discover the truth about his past.

I really loved this book and was able to read it in 4 hours. While the book is about Saul it is also about that Canadian spirit which is represented by hockey. Hockey is presented as this pure sport above the daily grid found within much of general life of both the rural and urban setting. We see through Wagamese’s magnificent writing that this is not the case and terrible injustice can be perpetrated in the name of the purity of a nation and a sport.

If you are a hockey fan and would like to read something different from the usual fare this book is for you. The true title of this book should have been Indain Horse: The True Hockey Night in Canada. http://www.amazon.ca/Indian-Horse-Richard-Wagamese/dp/1553654021 

Hocket Night in Canada Theme song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ByKu8BwT5K4

To Learn More (Podcast):