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  • A Mind Spread Out on the Ground

  • Written by: Alicia Elliott
  • Narrated by: Alicia Elliott
  • Length: 6 hrs and 36 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (424 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Number One National Best Seller

Shortlisted for The 2019 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF 2019 BY THE GLOBE AND MAIL • CBC • CHATELAINE • QUILL & QUIRE • THE HILL TIMES • POP MATTERS

A bold and profound meditation on trauma, legacy, oppression, and racism in North America from award-winning Haudenosaunee writer Alicia Elliott.

In an urgent and visceral work that asks essential questions about the treatment of Native people in North America while drawing on intimate details of her own life and experience with intergenerational trauma, Alicia Elliott offers indispensable insight into the ongoing legacy of colonialism. She engages with such wide-ranging topics as race, parenthood, love, mental illness, poverty, sexual assault, gentrifcation, writing, and representation, and in the process makes connections both large and small between the past and present, the personal and political - from overcoming a years-long battle with head lice to the way Native writers are treated within the Canadian literary industry; her unplanned teenage pregnancy to the history of dark matter and how it relates to racism in the court system; her childhood diet of Kraft Dinner to how systemic oppression is directly linked to health problems in Native communities. 

With deep consideration and searing prose, Elliott provides a candid look at our past, an illuminating portrait of our present and a powerful tool for a better future.

©2019 Alicia Elliott (P)2019 Doubleday Canada

What the critics say

"This book is hard, vital medicine. It is a dance of survival and cultural resurgence. Above all, it is breathtakingly contemporary Indigenous philosophy, in which the street is also part of the land, and the very act of thinking is conditioned by struggles for justice and well-being." (Warren Cariou, author of Lake of the Prairies)

"These essays are of fiercest intelligence and courageous revelation. Here, colonialism and poverty are not only social urgencies, but violence felt and fought in the raw of the everyday, in embodied life and intimate relations. This is a stunning, vital triumph of writing." (David Chariandy, author of Brother)

"Wildly brave and wholly original, Alicia Elliot is the voice that rouses us from the mundane, speaks political poetry, and brings us to the ceremony of every day survival. Her words remind us to carry both our weapons and our medicines, to hold both our strength and our open, weeping hearts. A Mind Spread Out on the Ground is what happens when you come in a good way to offer prayer, and instead, end up telling the entire damn truth of it all." (Cherie Dimaline, author of The Marrow Thieves)

Featured Article: Finding the Canadian Voice That Speaks To You

The Canadian voice is a powerful, distinct and rich one. From the First Nations and those that have lived in Canada for generations to new immigrants, the tapestry that makes up Canada from Nova Scotia, to Toronto, Winnipeg to Vancouver and every city in between is a colourful combination of people, voices and stories. Whether you’re searching for a relatable experience or seeking to hear a new perspective of this country we love, we’ve compiled a list of 10 amazing audiobooks by Canadian authors to help you find the voice that speaks to you.

What listeners say about A Mind Spread Out on the Ground

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Profoundly vulnerable and robustly analytical

Elliott expertly weaves her personal experiences, social and literary critiques, legacies of systemic violence and their contemporary continuations into a profound discussion that simultaneously holds white supremacy accountable while generously offering space for personal growth and ideally - deeper reconciliation and decolonizing thought.

The work is personally vulnerable while robust and well-researched. The links she draws are insightful and very relevant to current events and politics. I personally really benefitted from the essay: “On Forbidden Rooms and Intentional Forgetting” and thought it offered fresh perspectives and analysis on dealing with trauma and accepting the validity of whatever process you choose for yourself to do so.

This is necessary reading for everyone, and especially North Americans (Canadians in particular). Very timely work in the #MeToo moment, and so important in contexts of ever-growing far right politics and the unfinished work of reconciliation in Canada.

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Changed my Brain with the love and intelligence

This book is so eloquently written, so devastating and moving. It helped me feel more connected to my past and to help me consider what it means to be indigenous in the present day. It filled me with the fire of my ancestors. I'll read anything she's ever written.

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Transformative Read.

Alicia Elliot is a brilliant author. She talks authentically through her own experiences what it means to grow up in Turtle Island, an empire that gaslights, abuses, and continues to perpetuate violence against marginalized populations and indigenous folk. She talks about the failures of social workers taking children away from loving families without solving any root issues, making it seem like it is the indigenous family's fault, and how the jail system only perpetuates abuse and violence, rather than solving it. history matters. indigenous voices matter. transformative read.

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In my humble opinion

This book is profoundly disturbing and yet brutally honest. The insights that Alicia shares with us and the transparent vulnerability create a connection to the author. Written in picturesque prose, makes a difficult subject matter easier to read. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn, grow and open their mind. Thanks to Alicia for providing this opportunity to others and for beautifully written essays. “Know better do better “

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Amazing! Gripping! A work of art!

I am awestruck by Alicia’s courage and vulnerability. Her ability to open eyes to the abuses of her people as if we are standing in front of a family portrait is incredible. I am in awe of her bravery and story telling capabilities. Keep telling the story of your people the way you want in the way you want. People that want to learn are listening!!

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A great read! Thought provoking!

Even though I am a settler I could relate to a lot of feelings about family that Elliot shared. In my attempt to understand life in Canada from the indigenous perspective, Elliott led me to some really profound answers! She left me with a sense that I’ve only begun to scratch the surface on what it means to be marginalized, dismissed, and abused as an indigenous person. Thank you Ms. Elliott for giving me a few more pieces to this ever-growing puzzle I call my quest for truth on what the “real Canada” looks like.

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Powerful

One of the most impactful books I've listened to in a long time. Thank you, Alicia for taking me as a listener on a journey with you. It resonated, it was powerful, and impactful. Nia:wen!

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Purchase this book!! You won’t be disappointed.

Alicia Elliot beautifully weaves her personal experiences and insights through themes of mental health, inter-generational trauma, colonization and decolonization, capitalism, racism, patriarchy, art and Indigenous sovereignty. She’s brilliant and a delight to listen to. You will learn SO much and hopefully re-evaluate your perspectives and assumptions about what is means to be; white, settler, Indigenous, and mixed race human on Turtle Island.

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Good read

This is a book I would recommend to all Canadians.
It’s what we need to know and we’re never taught.

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Loved it!

Every North American should hear Alicia's words. She speaks to her own story, but also that of many other Indigeneous and BIPOC community members.

1 person found this helpful