Thomas King’s provocative and unflinching book The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America will be the One Book One Northwestern selection for the coming academic year.
King’s (left) subversive account of the disastrous relationship between whites and Native Americans will be given to all incoming freshmen students at Northwestern in the fall of 2015 and serve as the centerpiece of a year’s worth of lectures, films and other programs related to issues raised in the book.
“It’s a history book that turns conventional wisdom on its head, but is told with a storyteller’s humor and elegance,” said Medill professor and former dean Loren Ghiglione, the faculty chair of the 2015-16 One Book One Northwestern program. “The Inconvenient Indian will help diminish the ignorance many of us have and focus on some important issues that don’t normally come to the fore in media.”
The themes of The Inconvenient Indian dovetail with Northwestern’s ongoing Native American inclusion efforts.
In response to a report from the John Evans Study committee, the University’s Native American Outreach and Inclusion Task Force recently recommended that the One Book program choose a reading on a Native American topic.
In light of this recommendation, “we were pleased to have received the nomination of The Inconvenient Indian for review and consideration,” said Eugene Lowe Jr., the chair of the One Book selection committee and assistant to the president.
King, a retired professor of English at the University of Guelph, is an award-winning novelist, short story writer, scriptwriter, photographer, woodworker and fledgling harmonica and flugelhorn player. An Inconvenient Indian evolved from a series of conversations and arguments that he has been having with himself and others for most of his adult life, he said.
An unconventional ‘history’ of white-Native American relations — King eschews footnotes and lightly interjects his own biases and opinions — the book “explores the alternately romanticized and demonized image of the Indian in popular culture, examines various attempts at cultural assimilation (including residential schools) and reveals enduring hypocrisies in the attitudes of whites toward Indians,” wrote the Canadian literary magazine Quill & Quire.
Unlike many accounts of Native American history, King’s book brings the reader up to the present day, showing that broken treaties, forced removals, murderous violence and racist stereotypes still exist, both in the US and Canada.
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