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The Inconvenient Indian

A Curious Account of Native People in North America
Written by: Thomas King
Narrated by: Lorne Cardinal
Length: 9 hrs and 56 mins
5 out of 5 stars (78 ratings)
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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 members say

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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.

6 of 7 people found this review 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.

2 of 2 people found this review 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.

1 of 1 people found this review 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.

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Fantastic!

The Inconvenient Indian is fantastic listen, written by Canadian author Thomas King, and narrated by Lorne Cardinal. This book was part of Canada Reads in 2015, and has been on my want list since then. The subject matter can be heavy, and rightly so. Though, the writing style is mixed with bits of humour, sarcasm and wit that break up the somewhat heavy topics. Lorne Cardianal does a fantastic job of narrating this book as well. For anyone who has watched Corner Gas, the voice is not only familiar, but comforting. Whether it be the characters Lorne has played on tv, or his soothing steadfast voice, you can't help but feel at home while listening to this book.

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First Nations

A very informative book for those who would like to learn more about history of North America from the point of view of our treatment of First Nations. I am an immigrant myself and this made me respect the history of this land and also strangely feel more at home.

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Inconvenient History Lesson #Audible1

This is will be an Inconvenient book for many. Sorry. Not Sorry.

Instead of staying willingly ignorant have a listen and rethink American history.

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Everyone should read this book

The Inconvenient Indian is a thorough look at the history of native peoples and how their interactions with non-natives have played out over the last several hundred years. I learned a great deal about events that the public education system felt inclined to ignore. I'm greatful I decided to listen.

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A Reconciliation Must Read

Lorne Cardinal is the perfect voice to deliver this historic look at Aboriginal/Inuit life in North America. The highs and lows are backed by facts and figures. Canadian treatment of Aboriginal and Inuit culture, languages, lands and rights requires reflection and decisions about personal acts of reconciliation.

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Eye-opener on first nation history in Canada & US

This is the first book I've consumed on history of native Canadians, and heartily recommend it.

Thomas King has a great sense of humour when he reviews the historic, and present-day bad treatment of First Nations. Further, the narrator, Lorne Cardinal, pulls you into the book.

I have already recommended the audible book to family, friends and co-workers.

#Audible1

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

1 of 4 people found this review helpful