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The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America Hardcover – International Edition, November 13, 2012

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Hardcover, International Edition, November 13, 2012
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday Canada; First edition (November 13, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385664214
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385664219
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,248,699 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


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.

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More About the Author

Thomas King is an award-winning novelist, short story writer, scriptwriter, and photographer. His many books include the novels Medicine River; Green Grass, Running Water; Truth and Bright Water; two short story collections, One Good Story, That One (Minnesota, 2013) and A Short History of Indians in Canada (Minnesota, 2013); nonfiction, The Truth About Stories (Minnesota, 2005); and the children's books A Coyote Columbus Story, Coyote Sings to the Moon, Coyote's New Suit, and A Coyote Solstice Tale. King edited the literary anthology All My Relations and wrote and starred in the popular CBC radio series, The Dead Dog Café. He is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award (2003), and was made a member of the Order of Canada in 2004. He has taught Native literature and history and creative writing at the University of Lethbridge, the University of Minnesota, and the University of Guelph and is now retired and lives in Guelph, Ontario.

Customer Reviews

In this latest book by author Thomas King, he points out that history is really 'stories we tell about the past'.
Maxine McLister
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.
Ken Kardash
Thanks so much Mr King for such a wonderful view of a painful past, all the while injecting a small hope that maybe things can someday be different.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Ken Kardash on December 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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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Clare O'Beara on July 24, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
This is a chatty book of facts, opinions and talking points; a modern look at the native peoples of North America. THE INCONVENIENT INDIAN got in the way of settlers and exploiters of mineral wealth, and became a magnified foe, so that a plaque still stands in Almo, Idaho, to mark a 'most horrible Indian massacre' which never occurred. Little Big Horn did occur, but as we know the native people received far worse treatment than they gave.

Thomas King, a Cherokee, takes a look at history. Canada largely fought with the Metis, who were part Indian and part English or French. He goes on to look at portrayals of Natives in literature and art, including stamps and currency; at Wild West shows where Indian performers were paid and fed, and got to travel rather than sit in boredom on a reservation.

Then of course, there came Hollywood. Will Rogers, a Cherokee, is one of only two Natives to get stars on the Walk of Fame - there are more cartoon characters and dogs honoured. Rogers never played an Indian role, but the other man so honoured was Jay Silverheels, who played Tonto. Taylor Lautner was initially a white actor playing a Quilute in 'Twilight' films but then discovered that he had forbears who were Ottowa and Potawatomi. King is wry about the portrayal as bloodthirsty savages changing to vampire-killing werewolves. Black actors have had many starring roles and a few Oscars, but aside from Graham Greene in 'Dances with Wolves' and Chief Dan George in 'Little Big Man' (I know him from 'The Outlaw Josey Wales', not mentioned by King), Natives have not received Academy nominations and largely play minor typecast roles. 'Northern Exposure' is television's best effort for portraying and casting Natives.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Rosanita on September 4, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Very rarely do we get to read history or current affairs from the viewpoint of an Aboriginal person. As the author pointed out, the terminology gets overly complicated and can change based on the country of residence. That small introductory discourse in the book was enough of a reason for the title in my opinion.

I read other reviews before writing my own and I must respectfully disagree about the one-sided discourse. Many history books are written in one perspective. In fact, we are taught one viewpoint in the US about the "discovery" of the Americas, while if you go to Madrid, you will find a different viewpoint. That is what this book does. For some, it may make them uncomfortable because there are a lot of problems that arose and those problems are not being addressed well by any group. Is it because of prejudice? Racism? The fact that many people are unseen? Perhaps it is a combination. However, unless the matters are actually voiced by someone, and in this case someone who is of an Aboriginal background, then those problems will continue to go unaddressed. PSA over. Back to the review.

The tone of the book is engaging and conversational. I enjoyed Mr. King's sense of humor and alternative viewpoint that differs from what I read in my history books. I'm a bit uncomfortable calling it a viewpoint, when it's the real history behind the tall tales. I was able to create a list of books to read after this one thanks to Mr. King's suggestions. I received a free copy of this book, but hope that others will buy it.
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