Personal Narratives

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An Honest Woman
Content Territory: Indigenous Canadian
Format: Paperback

 An Honest Woman by Jonina Kirton confronts us with beauty and ugliness in the wholesome riot that is sex, love, and marriage. From the perspective of a mixed-race woman, Kirton engages with Simone de Beauvoir and Donald Trump to unravel the norms of femininity and sexuality that continue to adhere today.

Kirton recalls her own upbringing, during which she was told to find a good husband who would “make an honest woman” out of her. Exploring the lives of many women, including her mother, her contemporaries, and well-known sex-crime stories such as the case of Elisabeth Fritzl, Kirton mines the personal to loosen the grip of patriarchal and colonial impositions. 

An Honest Woman explores the many ways the female body is shaped by questions that have been too political to ask: What happens when a woman decides to take her sexuality into her own hands, dismissing cultural norms and the expectations of her parents? How is a young woman’s sexuality influenced when she is perceived as an “exotic” other? Can a woman reconnect with her Indigenous community by choosing Indigenous lovers? 

Daring and tender in their honesty and wisdom, these poems challenge the perception of women’s bodies as glamorous and marketable commodities and imagine an embodied female experience that accommodates the role of creativity and a nurturing relationship with the land.

Reviews
“Jonina Kirton is courageously honest about her life experiences as a female of Indigenous and immigrant ancestry. Many poems resonate deeply, as we identify with her personal quest to figure out who she is, and the unacceptable things done to her. Her raw honesty is unsettling and uncomfortable, because it can be our truth too. Her poems depict devaluation and dehumanization, grieving, lessons learned. Her poems offer important insights as to why there are thousands of missing and murdered Indigenous women.” — Senator Lillian E. Dyck

“When writing from the voice of between, writer and reader have no place to hide. Assumptions and camouflage fall away. Murdered, missing, and violated women and girl voices have been silenced. The story lethally repeats. Kirton picks over how she was raised familially and culturally like a crime scene. Too, she affirms, ‘I have been here forever and I will rise again and again.’ Tough, eloquent, revelatory, these poems are the very ones we are desperately in need of.” — Betsy Warland, author of Oscar of Between: A Memoir of Identity and Ideas

“I’m sure people have been looking at me strangely every time I gasp, but I can’t glance away from the page for even a second to notice. Some of the poems end sharply, with a punch; some deliberately leave me searching for the next line; others show the repetition of heartbreaking cycles of violence and oppression, but offer a portrayal of resilience, too.” — All Lit Up!

Educator Information
This book would be useful for Women's Studies, Creative Writing, English Language Arts, Poetry, and English courses.  Recommended for grades 11-12 and university-college students.  

Please be advised, this book contains explicit sexual references and references to sexual and physical abuse.

Additional Information
104 pages | 6.00" x 9.00"

 

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$16.95

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Bowman's Store: A Journey to Myself
Format: Paperback
Little "Sonny" Bruchac's childhood was full of secrets. He didn't know why he lived with his grandparents, who ran a gas station and general store, when his own parents' home was just up the road, or why his grandfather was so defensive about his dark skin. The precocious, sensitive boy knew only that his grandparents nurtured his love of books and wild things as surely as they sheltered him from dangers real and imagined. As Sonny grew up, through experiences both searing and hilarious, he would find himself drawn to all things Indian long before he knew of his grandfather's hidden Abenaki roots.

Bowman's Store gracefully weaves themes from Joseph Bruchac's intimate knowledge of Native American cultures with the scenes from the past that have shaped his life. For those who enjoy memoirs, Native American writings, and books about finding one's cultural heritage -- or just a wonderful read -- here is a consummate storyteller unfolding his most personal and poignant story of all.

Guided Reading: Y
Lexile: N/A
Interest Level: Grades 4 - 12
Reading Level: Grades 4 - College
$17.95

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Breaking Boundaries: LGBTQ2 Writers on Coming Out and Into Canada
Editors:
Lori Shwydky
Format: Paperback
An anthology of stories and poetry written by Canadian LGBTQ2 authors who are immigrants, refugees, or Canada-born.

“What does it mean to be LGBTQ2 in Canada? The only possible answer to that question is one given in many voices. That is exactly what this book offers. There is struggle in these stories and poems, but there is also strength and resilience, compassion and determination. Woven together these voices leave me with a sense of hopefulness: a belief that the creativity and fierce commitment of our community will carry us forward as we work to create a Canada that lives up to the dream of freedom and safety it represents to so many people around the world.” — Robin Stevenson, author of Pride: Celebrating Diversity and Community

Review
The anthology pieces are diverse with authors who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and 2-Spirited. It also includes stunning artwork by LGBTQ artists and allies. — Rainbow Refugee Society

Authors & Artists
Authors in this anthology include Teryl Berg, Kyle Chen, Wendy Judith Cutler, Corrie Hope Furst, Kevin Henry, Anne Hofland, Chantal Hughes, Masaki Kidokoro, Dale Lee Kwong, Austin Lee, JL Lori, Eka Nasution (narrator), Adam Nixon, Rainer Oktovianus (narrator), Gail Marlene Schwartz, Caelan Sinclair, LS Stone, Sosania Tomlinson, E.T. Turner, and Hayley Zacks.

Artwork by Joni Danielson, Wokie Clark Fraser, Austin Lee, Trinity Lindenau, and Rainer Oktovianus.

Additional Information
146 pages | 6.00" x 9.00"
Edited by Lori Shwydky

This book contains memoirs, stories, poems, and artwork, which is why it appears in a variety of categories, such as both Fiction and Non-fiction, on our website.
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$13.95

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Clifford: A Memoir, A Fiction, A Fantasy, A Thought Experiment
Content Territory: Cree
Format: Paperback

I open my eyes in the darkness, laying on my side, half my vision is of the earth and shadows; the other is of the sky, treetops, and stars. I should write Clifford’s story. The thought emerges fully formed . . . The thought dissipates. I close my eyes and the earth and the sky disappear. The warmth of my sleeping bag wraps around me and sleep pulls me under into that half-world where reality and fantasy mingle in a place where coherent thoughts disintegrate.

When Harold Johnson returns to his childhood home in a northern Saskatchewan Indigenous community for his brother Clifford’s funeral, the first thing his eyes fall on is a chair. It stands on three legs, the fourth broken off and missing. So begins a journey through the past, a retrieval of recollections that have too long sat dormant. Moving from the old family home to the log cabin, the garden, and finally settling deep in the forest surrounding the property, his mind circles back, shifting in time and space, weaving in and out of memories of his silent, powerful Swedish father; his formidable Cree mother, an expert trapper and a source of great strength; and his brother Clifford, a precocious young boy who is drawn to the mysterious workings of the universe.

As the night unfolds, memories of Clifford surface in Harold’s mind’s eye: teaching his younger brother how to tie his shoelaces; jousting on a bicycle without rubber wheels; building a motorcycle. Memory, fiction, and fantasy collide, and Clifford comes to life as the scientist he was meant to be, culminating in his discovery of the Grand Unified Theory.

Exquisitely crafted, funny, visionary, and wholly moving, Clifford is an extraordinary work for the way it defies strict category and embraces myriad forms of storytelling. To read it is to be immersed in a home, a family, a community, the wider world, the entire cosmos.

Reviews
“Clifford is a luminous, genre-bending memoir. Heartache and hardship are no match for the disarming whimsy, the layered storytelling shot through with love. The power of land, the pull of family, the turbulence of poverty are threads woven together with explorations of reality, tackling truth with a trickster slant.” — Eden Robinson, author of Son of a Trickster

“Clifford is a story only Harold Johnson could tell. By turns soft and harsh, intellectual and emotional, Johnson weaves truth, fiction, science, and science fiction into a tapestry that is rich with meaning and maybes. A natural storyteller, Johnson seeks imagined pasts and futurity with equal parts longing and care. This work allows readers and writers the possibility of new and ancient modes of storytelling.” — Tracey Lindberg, author of Birdie

“Harold R. Johnson is a wonderful writer, and Clifford is his best work yet. For fans of Jack Finney and Richard Matheson, this terrific book is a wonderfully human tale of memory both bitter and sweet, as well as a poignant exploration of time’s hold over all of us.” — Robert J. Sawyer, Hugo Award–winning author of Quantum Night

“Clifford is unlike anything I’ve read — it is at once a story of science and magic, love and loss, and a case for the infinite potential of humanity. It is a book of profound wisdom — an unpacking of the deepest truths of science in an effort to transform the pain of grief and regret into healing and forgiveness.” — Patti Laboucane-Benson, author of The Outside Circle

Additional Information
264 pages | 5.25" x 8.00"

 

 

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$22.95

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From the Barren Lands: Fur Trade, First Nations and a Life in Northern Canada
Authors:
Leonard Flett
Content Territory: Cree
Format: Paperback

This is a story about the fur trade and First Nations, and the development of northern Canada, seen and experienced not only through Leonard Flett's eyes, but also through the eyes of his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather.The lives of indigenous people in remote areas of northern Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan in the 1960s and 1970s are examined in detail. Flett's successful career with both the Hudson's Bay Company and the North West Company provides an insight into the dying days of the fur trade and the rise of a new retail business tailored to First Nations.

$29.95

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Hope Blooms: Plant a Seed, Harvest a Dream
Authors:
Hope Blooms
Format: Paperback

There is an old saying that it takes a village to raise a child, but Jessie Jollymore has experienced through the youth of Hope Blooms, an inner-city initiative she founded that engages at-risk youth, that sometimes it takes the children to raise the village. A dietitian who worked in inner city health for 15 years, Jollymore witnessed the challenges people face every day with food security, isolation, discrimination, and poverty. An idea bloomed of creating sustainable, youth-driven micro-economies: growing local food systems, growing social enterprises, and mentoring youth to become leaders of change. This led to over 50 youth ages 6 to 18 leading the way in growing over 3,000 pounds of organic produce yearly for their community, building innovative outdoor classrooms, and building a successful Fresh Herb Dressing social enterprise, with 100% of proceeds going toward growing food, and scholarships for youth.

In this inspiring, vibrant book, the youth behind Hope Blooms tell the story of the social enterprise they built from the soil up, the struggles of "creating something from nothing," successfully navigating the world of business, and ultimately building resilience and leaving behind a legacy. Includes youth's words of wisdom, stories, and poetry, and over 75 colour photos.

Additional Information
180 pages | 7.50" x 9.25"

$24.95

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Louis Riel: Let Justice Be Done
Authors:
David Doyle
Content Territory: Métis
Format: Paperback
Louis Riel, prophet of the new world and founder of the Canadian province of Manitoba, has challenged Canadian politics, history and religion since the early years of Confederation. In Canada's most important and controversial state trial, Riel was found guilty of "high treason," sentenced to hang and executed on November 16, 1885. With 2017 being Canada's sesquicentennial of the initial Confederation of four British colonies, and with the question of reconciliation on the minds of many, the celebrations must recognize that the brutal execution of Louis Riel remains Canada's "great divide." Was the 1885 execution of Riel the hanging of a traitor? Or the legal murder of a patriot and statesman? Tried in a territorial court, Riel called out for justice, for an "inquiry into his career." To date, no such inquiry has been called. The spiritual and political father of the Métis nation and Western Canada remains branded a traitor to Canada.

In this imaginative re-enactment of his trial, Riel is finally given the opportunity to respond to his conviction for treason, offering his side of the story at Batoche and Red River.

Reviews
“In this era of reconciliation, Louis Riel: Let Justice Be Done is a tour de force. Exposing the combined pillars of racism and colonialism, Doyle assists in the decolonization of Canadian history during her sesquicentennial commemorations and celebrations.”
Venerable Dr. John A. (Ian) MacKenzie

“David Doyle’s advocacy, both in his writings and presentations, appropriates nothing from the Métis or their culture, rather it supplements it both for them and for all Canadians.”
George & Terry Goulet, authors of The Trial of Louis Riel

Additional Information
200 pages | 9.00" x 6.00" | 16 b&w photos

This book is creative nonfiction, a genre of writing that presents factually accurate narratives using literary style and technique (creativity).
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$24.95

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Mamaskatch: A Cree Coming of Age
Content Territory: Cree
Format: Hardcover

A powerful story of resilience—a must-read for all Canadians.

Growing up in the tiny village of Smith, Alberta, Darrel J. McLeod was surrounded by his Cree family’s history. In shifting and unpredictable stories, his mother, Bertha, shared narratives of their culture, their family and the cruelty that she and her sisters endured in residential school. McLeod was comforted by her presence and that of his many siblings and cousins, the smells of moose stew and wild peppermint tea, and his deep love of the landscape. Bertha taught him to be fiercely proud of his heritage and to listen to the birds that would return to watch over and guide him at key junctures of his life. 

However, in a spiral of events, Darrel’s mother turned wild and unstable, and their home life became chaotic. Sweet and innocent by nature, Darrel struggled to maintain his grades and pursue an interest in music while changing homes many times, witnessing violence, caring for his younger siblings and suffering abuse at the hands of his surrogate father. Meanwhile, his sibling’s gender transition provoked Darrel to deeply question his own sexual identity. 

The fractured narrative of Mamaskatch mirrors Bertha’s attempts to reckon with the trauma and abuse she faced in her own life, and captures an intensely moving portrait of a family of strong personalities, deep ties and the shared history that both binds and haunts them. 

Beautifully written, honest and thought-provoking, Mamaskatch—named for the Cree word used as a response to dreams shared—is ultimately an uplifting account of overcoming personal and societal obstacles. In spite of the traumas of Darrel’s childhood, deep and mysterious forces handed down by his mother helped him survive and thrive: her love and strength stayed with him to build the foundation of what would come to be a very fulfilling and adventurous life.

Reviews
“Honestly stunning. McLeod’s clear writing lays bare his complicated ties to his family, his lovers and his country in a memoir that moved and haunted me. If you loved Maria Campbell’s Halfbreed, you will love Mamaskatch.” — Eden Robinson, author of Son of a Trickster and Monkey Beach

“Reading the text was like diving into the eternity of dreams and being paralyzed by a nightmare. However, there is sunrise. Told candidly and with heartbreaking honesty, McLeod’s memoir shows how survival beckoned and he held on to the spirit of his ancestors—the love that no one can ever sever. He lives for all of us.— Louise Bernice Halfe, author of Burning in this Midnight Dream

“A compelling read that shows the heartbreaking results of imposed oppression. Darrel has identity problems of many kinds and the result is a life full of chaos. The gradual climb out of that dark place is touching.”— Bev Sellars, former councillor and chief of the Xat’sull First Nation and author of Price Paid.

“Mamaskatch is a profound and tender love song, an elegy to a wounded family, and an unsparing, exquisitely moving chronicle of growing up “Nehiyaw” (Cree). Like the birdsong his mother taught him to understand, McLeod’s voice is magical; it will lift and carry you through bone-breaking grief with grit, optimism and wry, life-saving humour. You will not leave this book unchanged.”— Denise Ryan, journalist, Vancouver Sun

"Darrel McLeod’s Mamaskatch is a heart-wrenching mîwâsin memoir full of vignettes that are so intricately woven that they guide you through with grace, sâkihiwêwin, humour, and maskihkîy. This is a narrative built through continuums that detail the lives of the McLeod family through their queer travails, trans realities, bannock and stew conversations, and a plethora of intergenerational traumas and triumphs. I can feel the warm embrace of the Three Sisters wrapping around me as I read this, that heart-drum beat resounding beneath its literary cadences, the frigidity of the Athabasca kissing my heels, and a narrator who teaches me from his very first passage in this novel that a good story is a medicine song that re-members and re-animates, in true nehiyawewin fashion, those who have paved the way for us and those who for whom we pave.  Ay-hay, Darrel, for this lovely work that lulls me back into those old-fashioned country songs that nearly every prairie kokôm raised us on. Mâmaskâc!"— Joshua Whitehead, author of Full-Metal Indigiqueer and Jonny Appleseed

Additional Information
240 pages | 6.00" x 9.00"

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$29.95

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Me Funny
Authors:
Drew Hayden Taylor
Content Territory: Ojibway
Format: Paperback
An irreverent, insightful take on our First Nations' great gift to Canada, delivered by a stellar cast of contributors. Humour has always been an essential part of North American Aboriginal culture. This fact remained unnoticed by most settlers, however, since non-Aboriginals just didn't get the joke. Indians, it was believed, never laughed. But Indians themselves always knew better. As an award-winning playwright, columnist and comedy-sketch creator, Drew Hayden Taylor has spent fifteen years writing and researching Aboriginal humour. For this book, he asked a leading group of writers from a variety of fields -- among them such celebrated wordsmiths as Thomas King, Lee Maracle and Tomson Highway -- to take a look at what makes Aboriginal humour tick. Their challenging, informative and hilarious contributions examine the use of humour in areas as diverse as stand-up comedy, fiction, visual art, drama, performance, poetry, traditional storytelling and education. As Me Funny makes clear, there is no single definition of Aboriginal humour. But the contributors do agree on some common ground: Native humour pushes the envelope. With this collection, readers will have the unforgettable opportunity to appreciate that for themselves.
$22.95

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Mind's Eye: Stories from Whapmagoostui
Authors:
Susan Marshall
Format: Paperback
Based on over two decades of extensive interviews, Mind’s Eye documents the stories told by eighteen Cree elders in Whapmagoostui, a mixed community of Cree, Inuit, and non-Natives, located on the eastern shore of Hudson Bay at the mouth of the Great Whale River in northern Quebec.

From testimonies about battles with the Inuit, raids by Cree from southern James Bay, and early contact with Europeans, to simple descriptions of playing games and making caribou-skin coats, these stories record the history of the James Bay Cree and illustrate the degree to which the presence of the supernatural was considered a normal part of daily life. More recent stories tell of challenges to the Whapmagoostui Cree community in the first half of the twentieth century—the influence of Christian missionaries, the decline of game animals, and the establishment of the military base at Great Whale River.

Recorded from the mid-1970s to the mid-1990s, the stories were told against the backdrop of proposed hydroelectric development on the Great Whale River and Little Whale River that would threaten the health, livelihood and culture of the Cree and Inuit communities in the region.

This evocative collection of stories from northern Quebec connects readers to the vibrant history of the Whapmagoostui Cree, and aims to maintain this community’s rich cultural traditions.

Storytellers: Sam Atchynia, Nellie Atchynia, Frankie Dick, Matthew George, Rupert George, John Kawapit, Suzanne Kawapit, William Kawapit, Noah Mamianskum, Ann Masty, Sam Masty, Samson Masty, Hannah Natachequan, Andrew Natachequan, Philip Natachequan, Joseph Rupert, Maggie Sandy, Peter Sandy, Ronnie Sheshamush
$34.95

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Our Grandmothers' Lives as Told in Their Own Words: Kohkominawak Otacimowiniwawa
Content Territory: Cree
Format: Paperback
This bilingual collection of reminiscences and personal stories tells us about the daily lives of Cree women over the past century: household chores, snaring rabbits and picking berries, going to school, marriage, bearing and raising children. Seven Cree women share memories about their lives and the history of their people, and provide insights into the traditional teachings of a society where practical and spiritual matters are never far apart. Recorded in their Cree language using syllabics and translated into English, these women speak with warmth and humour about their memories and their reflections on how people live today. Their stories span several generations, from the present back to reports of their own grandmothers' lives in the bush and on the reserve, giving a clear picture of the role of women in Cree society. Freda Ahenakew was born on the Ahtahkakoop First Nation reserve. Former Director of the Saskatchewan Indian Languages Institute, she earned her M.A. in Cree linguistics at the University of Manitoba. Ahenakew was an Associate Professor of Native Studies at the University of Manitoba from 1989 to 1996 and acted as Head of the Department of Native Studies from 1990 to 1995. She thereafter worked as a First Nations Language Consultant to the Prince Albert Grand Council until her retirement in 1997. That same year, she was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Saskatchewan.
$29.95

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River of Salmon Peoples
Content Territory: First Nations
Format: Paperback
The River of the Salmon People captures what the
Fraser River, and its most valuable resource, the
salmon, means to First Nations communities along
its basin. The result of nine community engagements,
extensive research over two years, and illuminating
photographs and artwork, this book captures the oral
narratives of each community along the river.
The book, while capturing timeless Indigenous stories
and legends about the salmon and the river, is also an
exploration of the future of the salmon and of the waters
of the Fraser River. It will have high appeal to readers
interested in First Nations issues, the sustainability of
the salmon, and the environmental challenges facing
the world today.
The River of the Salmon People is an expression of the
people, culture, ceremony and songs along the Fraser
of will be of deep interest to both the general reader
and students of the environment and Indigenous rights.
$32.95

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Seven Sacred Truths
Content Territory: First Nations, Indigenous Canadian
Format: Paperback

Seven Sacred Truths explores the perspective of an Indigenous Woman on a continuous journey of healing from trauma.

Seven Sacred Truths presents a powerful exploration of an Indigenous woman's healing journey. Seeing the world through "brown" eyes, poet Wanda John-Kehewin makes new meaning of the past, present, and future through a consideration of Love, Wisdom, Truth, Honesty, Respect, Humility, and Courage. By sharing her views on these Seven Sacred Truths and what they meant to her growing up, John-Kehewin instigates a therapeutic process of restoration and transformation. Her Seven Sacred Truths uncovers new meaning in the written word - meaning that can be shared with others who have lived trauma or who want insight into it. John-Kehewin strives to create a safe space and provide the opportunity to experience another perspective; she invites readers to embark on their own healing journeys. The closer you are to the truth, she writes, the freer you become.

Wanda John-Kehewin uses writing as a therapeutic medium to understand and respond to the near-decimation of First Nations cultures and traditions.

Additional Information
120 pages | 5.50" x 8.50"

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$16.95

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This Wound is a World
Content Territory: Indigenous Canadian
Format: Paperback

Part manifesto, part memoir, This Wound is a World is an invitation to “cut a hole in the sky to world inside.” Billy-Ray Belcourt issues a call to turn to love and sex to understand how Indigenous peoples shoulder sadness and pain like theirs without giving up on the future. His poems upset genre and play with form, scavenging for a decolonial kind of heaven where “everyone is at least a little gay.”

Awards

  • 2018 Griffin Poetry Prize
  • 2018 Indigenous Voices Award - Most Significant Work of Poetry in English

Reviews
"In This Wound is a World, love answers heartbreak, “history lays itself bare” (42) and a world glimmering with decolonial love and queer, Indigenous possibilities is split open. This is poetry at its brightest. It is electric, profound, necessary work. Belcourt bends genre, challenging the cage of colonialism through a poetics of intimacy. It is a collection unafraid to ask questions, exploring grief, desire, queer sexuality and Indigeneity with tender honesty. Belcourt asks us to consider the ways Indigenous bodies can be simultaneously unbound and “rendered again,” (40) how worlds can be made and unmade. These are poems to be returned to again and again with reverence." - PRISM International

Additional Information
64 pages | 6.00" x 9.00"

Authentic Canadian Content
$19.95

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Traditional Narratives of the Rock Cree Indians
Authors:
Robert Brightman
Content Territory: Cree
Format: Paperback
First published in 1980 by the Canadian Museum of Civilization, this study presents narratives from different genres of Rock Cree oral literature in northwestern Manitoba together with interpretive and comparative commentary. The collection comprises narratives of the trickster-transformer Wisahkicahk, animal-human characters, spirit guardians, the wihtikow or cannibal monster, humorous experiences, sorcery, and early encounters with Catholicism.
$29.95

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