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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
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (904 ratings)

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The Inconvenient Indian

Written by: Thomas King
Narrated by: Lorne Cardinal
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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)

Editorial Review

In The Inconvenient Indian, Thomas King ponders what it means to be “Native” in North America, as he draws upon 50 years of his own reflections. His words provide valuable insight amidst continued tension and talks of reconciliation in Canada.

Part history, part narrative, subversive, critical, and always personal, King weaves the story of the relationship between Natives and non-Natives ever since they first met. In doing so, he delves into popular culture, land treaties, Native resistance, all the while noting historical conflicts and never failing to inject his dark humour.

Narrator Lorne Cardinal, a classically trained Canadian actor of Cree descent, is pitch-perfect as he adjusts his tone throughout to convey irony, bemusement, and wry wit. The result is a powerful and captivating listen that is timely for anyone seeking a greater understanding of Native people in Canada.

As an American-Canadian, Thomas King has written extensively about First Nations in both countries. The impetus behind The Inconvenient Indian stems from a fear that aboriginal culture, and their land especially, will be taken away until there is nothing left for them.

Twice nominated for Governor General awards, Thomas King was the first Massey lecturer who identifies as native. The Inconvenient Indian won the RBC Taylor Prize in 2014 and was a finalist for the 2013 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction.

What listeners say about The Inconvenient Indian

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

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.

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23 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

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.

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16 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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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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13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

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.

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5 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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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.

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5 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

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.

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3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Accurate

Accurate, satirical, well-written.
Heavy themes of course, but Thomas King handles them expertly.
I'm a young Canadian and I am truly grateful to have the opportunity to go past the inadequate lessons that are taught in regards to indigenous issues in Canada,

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2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

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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2 people found this helpful

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  • J
  • 2023-12-14

‘You wouldn’t believe it “. Masterful story telling with breadth and depth.

Wry sense of humour in the writing and especially in the audio performance. Deadpan and intelligent sarcasm , at just the right points. But most of all there is a comprhensive coverage of specific tribes/bands in very specific situations, across history and across geographical regions, in Canada and the US. Inclusion of details of Canadian experiences from Haida in the west , Metis (well everywhere!) , and Mohawk in the East makes this a fasicnating history lesson for any Canadian. My only gripe is that i want more! Like and epilogue, ten years after - by the author and by the performer. And being an academic yeas i would have loved notes and references - say an annotated bibliography?

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This book is a must read for all North Americans!

Dripping with sarcasm, every single line, but with good reason. This book tells the story of the mistreatment of First Nations people, which you could be forgiven for thinking is only a historical account. It's not. It's as prevalent today as it ever has been in the past.

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