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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
Categories: History, World
4.5 out of 5 stars (251 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

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
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    5 out of 5 stars

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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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.

7 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.

1 person 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.

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uncomfortable

This was an uncomfortable book to listen to. There were moments when I just wanted to stop listening and tap out. My privilege is that all I had to endure was some hours of discomfort and hopefully walk away a bit more educated, a little less ignorant. I would recommend this book to everyone and anyone.

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I think I misunderstand less now?

The book is well conceived, well executed and well performed. the author is colloquial and funny and holds no punches. It's some tough content though. I knew white people weren't kind to first nations, but I didn't realize it was this bad. I'm left feeling helpless and like I still don't really Get It but maybe that's the point. It's beyond complicated and there's no good or easy solution at this point.

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Guilt and thought provoking..

This book had me writhing. Oh, how different it might be of we could turn back time and engage life with current sensibilities! How I wished the book could have been shorter but the indictments poured out endlessly...as well they should have. Lorne Cardinal did a great job but better audio editing (removing silent periods) would have improved the final product. Overall however, this book should be compulsory reading for every newcomer to the Americas.

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Worth the Listen

For any Canadian trying to understand Native perspective, this is a must read. it is both educational, interesting, and by far one of the most easily understood perspectives written on Canadian history. Lorne Cardinal does an absolutely sensational jobs of reading this book. King puts things into a factual account with both humour and pathos, that every Canadian that feels they are tired of the battle with rights and freedoms and supports assimilation, this will change your outlook. It did mine.

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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.

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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.

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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.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Nat
  • 2020-05-31

Fantastic!

A wonderful beginning to understanding the turbulent reality of The Human Beings and The White Man. Excellent perspective injected with sarcasm and humor to allow any reader to understand what is wrong about colonization. The largest profundity is the lack of pressure to guilt those not born "on the side of the author" as many anti-racism books will do. In fact, this leads one to recognize and inspire any listener/reader to appreciate all cultures of The Human Beings, and not out of any forced sympathy, but genuine respect. I will definitely be reading this again, and giving it as gifts to friends and family.