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Publisher's Summary

The Inconvenient Indian is at once a “history” and the complete subversion of a history - in short, a critical and personal meditation that the remarkable Thomas King has conducted over the past 50 years about what it means to be “Indian” in North America. Rich with dark and light, pain and magic, this book distills the insights gleaned from that meditation, weaving the curiously circular tale of the relationship between non-Natives and Natives in the centuries since the two first encountered each other. In the process, King refashions old stories about historical events and figures, takes a sideways look at film and pop culture, relates his own complex experiences with activism, and articulates a deep and revolutionary understanding of the cumulative effects of ever-shifting laws and treaties on Native peoples and lands.

This is a book both timeless and timely, burnished with anger but tempered by wit, and ultimately a hard-won offering of hope - a sometimes inconvenient but nonetheless indispensable account for all of us, Indian and non-Indian alike, seeking to understand how we might tell a new story for the future.

©2012 Thomas King (P)2018 Novel Audio Inc.

What the critics say

"[The Inconvenient Indian 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." (Richard Wagamese, The Globe and Mail)

"King is a Canadian icon.... The Inconvenient Indian is labelled a history book but it is about Canada today. I suggest teachers include a copy in every school classroom. It made me a better Canadian and more compassionate person." (Craig Kielburger, cofounder of Free the Children) 

"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)

What listeners say about The Inconvenient Indian

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Angry, embarrassed, disgusted, horrified, nauseous, scared and so so sad, but hopeful and now informed.

I didn’t know what to expect when I started listening to this. I was told about it after I was shocked by my boss at the time. He generalized natives as he thought they just wanted more money and that’s why there where protests about the pipelines. I’m generalizing as it was a long time ago now. The statement felt weird and uninformed. Later, I was talking about this experience with my boss and was then schooled by a friend on some Canadian history I didn’t know. So in seeking more information I signed up for Audible again and started listening.
There were some things that I did already know, like the fact that reserves are held in trust and they don’t own the land. But the information I didn’t know broke my heart. I mean I’m so embarrassed that I knew so little. I am Canadian and I did learn about the fur trade and “settlers”, so I thought that was about it. We didn’t learn much more than that in school so it was a natural thing for me to assume that that was about it. Boy-was I foolish.
Throughout this book I have been all of the emotions mentioned in the subject and I have also cried and cried. I’m ashamed of the way things happened here and I’m disgusted with how the resolutions are ignored. I’m so incredibly impressed with the nations across North America and how all of the people won’t give up.
I could feel the despair, hopelessness and the depression creep upon me and there had been times I had to stop listening and process. I needed to do more research on the specific topic that came up and fill in the rest of the story (I’m listening in 2020-2021).
It’s incredible how these peoples have been able to fight through this cultural genocide makes me think there can be hope for the future. For all of our future. Now I want to see the nations rise because what the English, French and immigrants who claimed this continent, what they have done... it’s wrong. It’s wrong right now and all of the land needs to be given back. Not sold - just given - just returned. These governments are not worthy of anything from me. Not now and not ever. What our ancestors did, they claimed privileges they hadn’t earned.
So it’s too bad so sad - we need to make this right. People need to make up for their ancestors mistakes. I guess if they had been better people we wouldn’t be here with blood stained hands. But the way to was it off is to make it right. Do what is necessary and do it now.
2021 is going to be the year to learn and speak. Speak in public and speak at the political leaders. It’s time to hold them accountable to make this right.

4 people found this helpful

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Mandatory listening for all Canadians

Do yourself a favour and listen to this book. It's time for us as a country to educate ourselves and this is a great place to start. I haven;t heard this narrator before but he does a good job.

8 people found this helpful

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should be required reading for all North Americans

Canada and the United States seem to have this idea that they are evolved democracies. myths abound. bulshit abound. this book helps destroy those myths and that bullshit. Rightly so. Well written, with needed dashes of humor for a dark landscape.

3 people found this helpful

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A must listen!

Great writing, wonderful narrator. Thank you Thomas King for having the patience to lay it all out so clearly. Required reading / listening - likely more than once.

3 people found this helpful

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VERY Important Book for All North Americans

I was looking for an entry to literature by and on First Nations Peoples. It was a very good choice. Compared to the many heart-wrenching novels such as the Orenda and Indian Horse, this book was an easy read, and highly informative. The narrator was witty and satirical at the best of times, and seriously critical at important beats. Thoroughly enjoyable book.

My only criticism is that it had an unclear story structure and seemed to have ended abprupty.

Overall, this book is perfect if you want an easy-to-read yet informative history of the North American people.

2 people found this helpful

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An important and enjoyable read

Thomas King's The Inconvenient Indian isn't your usual history book. It's a personal, often sardonic look at the history of Indigenous people in North America from colonization to now, with pitch-perfect narration by indigenous actor Lorne Cardinal. King's narrative flows outside a strict chronology, interspersing concerns about Native American representation in film with discussions of historic displacements of Native Americans and Inuit, residential schools, land claims and more. It's accessible and inspiring - a must-read for anyone who cares about Indigenous justice, or doesn't yet know why they should care.

1 person found this helpful

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Insight, education, truth.

A fantastic real perspective. An account set in motion by solid story telling foundations. A vast yet brief glimpse at the status of indigenous people in North America and their history up until now from an amazing author with excellent narration.

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bit lightweight..

tried to like it but. considering the subject, thought it was a bit lightweight in its portrayal of the "inconvenient problem" that is genocide. worth a read.

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The Inconvenient Indian

This is not a dry history of events with a linear chronology of interactions between Indians and Whites. I use those terms because those are whatThomas King chose. Here you will find a story of humans with relevant examples from the past and present. Some you will be familiar with and some may surprize you. There are hints at possible ways forward, analysis of how agreements have been working out - or not - a mix of the sacred and mystical with practical wisdom. It is a story well told by Thomas King and brilliantly narrated by Lorne Cardinal. It is almost as though they are of one mind. If you care about people and listen to one audio book, this year, or ever, this is the one to pick.

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Loved it

Lorne Cardinal reads passionately, and you can’t help but listen! A must read to understanding native peoples politics in North America.

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  • Adam Silver
  • 2019-01-15

amazing

a really important work, told with grace and humor. the narrator does a wonderful job, bringing great life to this book.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Jeffrey A. Hayes
  • 2019-01-13

Embarrassing

Brilliant review of the history and current state of North American governments’ treatment of Indian peoples. This is much more embarrassing for the citizens of the U.S. and Canada than I thought possible.

3 people found this helpful

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  • L Dickson
  • 2018-10-17

Thought this was great

Narrator very good and the shocking story of treatment of these first Americans sad and somehow hopeful as they keep sending n keeping on

3 people found this helpful

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  • olkazuraw
  • 2019-10-13

good overview of indian-white relations w/ exmples

The complicated history of indian-white relations told with slightly ironic and sarcastic humor (as much as the subject allows for, there are plenty of tragic events mentioned). Difficult subject, but it's necessary to be aware of this history.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2018-12-14

Yt ppl ruin everything

I loved everything about this book, the histories are on point, the attitude, the criticizing of all you Europeans on our land. What a beautiful piece of knowledge that will be shared as often as I can share it and read to my future children.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Laurel Robinson
  • 2018-09-12

truth, provided with humor

loved it, recommend this to anyone who is Indian, lives near Indians or works with Indians. this is a very honest description of our history, not what is taught in school.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Beverly Bennett
  • 2018-09-11

Highly informative

Very well done. Covers Native Americans in both the U.S. and Canada. As the author is personally involved, it's also a personal and therefore more meaningful telling. It was hard to believe that the reader was not the author. Highly effective and informative.

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  • Kristy Grainger
  • 2018-08-11

I Thought I'd Enjoy This More

I've loved Thomas King as an author since I was in university - and I love the narrator as an actor - but this is a terrible pairing. Everything he says is done with an intonation that implies that Native American's played no active role in their own history and that white colonists, universally, worked to exterminate them - then lied about it. I'd love to get a text copy of this book and read it without the intervening layer of the narrator putting his own spin on the words. As is, I feel as though the author is propagating the ridiculous myth that Native Americans lived in some kind of lost eden before the arrival of Europeans - which infantilized indigenous people and makes everyone come off as some kind of two-dimensional character in a cheap novel. Native people's played an active role in their own history, and both sides were trying to preserve their way of life while escaping persecution from outside forces.

This is the history of the human species, and it is naive to believe that Native peoples were immune to the pressures of war, famine, slavery and social divides before the arrival of Columbus. In an ever changing world, technology had advanced, and would continue to advance, enough to allow, what had been, two geographically isolated groups of people (Native American and Europeans) to interact more often and more freely. This is the nature of globalization - it is not a force that could have been stopped (or can be). That is not to say that wrongs were not committed, or that I would suggest behaving like early colonists; since I hope that we have all grown more tolerant of each other as a species. However, I do believe that we all have to stop believing our own historically constructed and self-aggrandizing myths and look at our history(s) with clarity, and an understanding of the human condition.

If you believe that the human species came out of Africa than you also have to accept that migration has been a part of human history since the beginning. People will always move from places of danger or scarcity to places of (hoped for) safety and plenty. The modern refuge crises is a prime example. Some of these immigrants will go home, as did some Europeans from North America, but once you've put forth the effort to build a new life in a new place - for whatever reason - you rarely want to rip your life apart again to reverse the process. I would argue that we've all come from somewhere else. Go ahead and get your DNA tested and see what it says.

Examine the past without apology or prejudice and then look to the future - and leave the world better then you found it. None of us can change where we were born, or to whom. Tribalism, and the modern-day equivalent of nationalism, needs to be tossed into the rubbish heap of history so that we can realize that we're all in it together. Lets stop pissing in the corners of our respective territories, because it makes the whole world stink.

7 people found this helpful

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  • LaRayne H.
  • 2021-02-07

don't bother

flippant to the point of being insulting to its subject. no insights or
depth of vision

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  • E. Constantine
  • 2020-09-19

Essentially read/listen

We know so little about the true history if indigenous populations. This is well done, complex and an essential book.