Indigenous Library

In the fall of 2021, the Spiritual Explorations committee of RCMUC surveyed the congregation to learn which topics were of greatest interest.  The number one choice by our congregants, was Indigenous Spirituality.  With this in mind, the following Library collection is taking shape.  These titles are available for sign-out at the Church.

Watch this page for updates, as the collection will continue to grow!

Indigenous Library Book List

Braiding Sweetgrass – Robin Wall Kimmerer

This book was published in 2013. It has become a best seller. Kimmerer’s stories are woven together, like a braid of sweetgrass. She writes from the perspective of a mother, plant ecologist, and professor. She teaches at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, New York. When you read this book you are inspired to look at nature very differently and you become more determined than ever to protect the planet we live on. Kimmerer inspires the reader through her tales of Indigenous myths combined with her depth of scientific knowledge. She brings the reader’s attention to the contrast between Indigenous reciprocal relationships with the land compared to the notion and current law protecting colonial rights to the land. She introduces the concept of “Windigo” and reminds us of this ever-present “evil” and the threat it presents to our life on earth. The book is a wake up call.

Bad Judgement – John Reilly

During his 33 years as a circuit judge for the provincial court of Alberta, John Reilly became interested in Aboriginal societies and the failure of the white legal system to deliver justice for Indigenous people. He recognized the harm caused by Canadian colonialism and the failure of all levels of government, including tribal government, to alleviate Native peoples suffering and deal with the conflicting natures of European style law and the Aboriginal traditions and circumstances.

Buffalo Days and Nights – Peter Erasmus

Born in 1833, Peter Erasmus was an important character in the events that marked western Canada’s transformation from the open Buffalo planes of Rupert’s land into townsites and farmsteads.  He was a remarkable and highly educated man fluent in six Native languages as well as English, Latin and Greek, and respected by Native peoples, white settlers and explorers. Trained by the church for missionary work Erasmus instead became one of the mixed blood guides and interpreters who helped shape the Canadian West. His long career as a celebrated Buffalo hunter, mission worker, teacher, trader, and interpreter made him a legend in his own time. His involvement in such events as the Palliser expedition, the smallpox epidemic of the 1870s, the signing of the treaty number six, and the last big buffalo hunt has ensured his place in history long after his death at the age of 97.

Crowfoot, Chief of the Blackfeet – Hugh Dempsey

In one shattering decade, from 1875 to 1885, the great Buffalo herds disappeared from Western North America, and the plains peoples who had depended on them for food, shelter, and clothing, were forced to become wards of the government. This book tells the story of how one Canadian tribe was led through years of harassment, starvation, and subjugation by a wise and farsighted Chief. Crowfoot, a member of the Blood people who became Chief of the Blackfoot nation, was considered by whites to be the greatest single influence in the maintenance of peace.

Dancing With A Ghost – Rupert Ross

As a Crown Attorney working with the first Nations in remote Northwestern Ontario, Rupert Ross learned that he was routinely misinterpreting the behaviour of Aboriginal victims, witnesses, and offenders, both in and out of court. He discovered that he regularly drew wrong conclusions when he encountered witnesses who wouldn’t make eye contact, victims who wouldn’t testify in the presence of the accused, and parents who showed great reluctance to interfere in their children’s offending behavior. With the assistance of Aboriginal teachers, he began to see that behind such behaviour lay a  complex web of coherent cultural commandments that he had never suspected, much less understood.

Five Little Indians – Michelle Good

Taken from their families as small children and confined to remote, Church-run residential school, Kenny, Lucy, Clara, Howie and Maisie are barely out of childhood when they are finally released, with no money or support, after years of detention. Alone and without skills, support or family, the teens find their way to the seedy and foreign world of Downtown Eastside Vancouver, were they cling together, striving to find a place of safety and belonging in a world that doesn’t want them. The paths of the five friends cross and crisscross over the decades as they struggle to overcome, or at least forget, the trauma they endured during their years at the mission. With compassion and insight this book chronicles the bonds of friendship between this group of survivors as they help each other to reinvent their lives and, ultimately, find a way forward.

Green Grass, Running Water – Thomas King

Strong, sassy women and hard luck, hardheaded men, all searching for the middle ground between the Native American tradition and the modern world, perform an elaborate dance of approach and avoidance in this magical, rollicking tale by Cherokee author Thomas King. Alberta is a university professor who would like to trade her two boyfriends for a baby but no husband; Lionel is 40 and still sells televisions for a patronizing boss; Eli and his log cabin stand in the way of a profitable dam project. These three – and others – are coming to the Blackford reservation for the Sun Dance, and there they will encounter for Indigenous Elders and their companion, the trickster Coyote – and nothing in the small town of Blossom will be the same again…

Inconvenient Indian – Thomas King

Essential reading for everyone who cares about Canada and who seeks to understand Native people, their issues and their dreams… King  is beyond being a great writer and storyteller, a lauded academic an educator. He is a towering intellectual. For Native people in Canada, he is our Twain; wise, hilarious, incorrigible…The Inconvenient Indian is less indictment than a reassurance that we can create equality and harmony. A powerful important book.

Indigenous Healing – Rupert Ross

Rupert Ross explores this Indigenous worldview and the determination of Indigenous thinkers to restore it to full prominence today. He comes to realize that an appreciation of this perspective is vital to understanding the destructive forces of colonization. As a former Crown attorney in northern Ontario, Ross witness many of these forces. He examines them here with A special focus on residential schools and their power to stabilize entire communities long after the last school has closed. With help from many Indigenous authors, he explores their emerging conviction that healing is now better described as “decolonization therapy.” And the key to healing, they assert, is a return to the traditional Indigenous world view.

Loss Of Indigenous Eden – Blair Stonechild

This book was published in 2020 and the ideas that Stonechild discusses are considered by some to be quite controversial, which of course makes this book a must read. Stonechild is a scholar having both a Masters and Doctorate degrees from the University of Regina. He is a professor of Indigenous Studies at the First Nations University of Canada in Regina Saskatchewan. His ideas are informed and inspired by his research into the teachings of many Native Elders. This book reflects on the influences of the Abrahamic religions, and how the beliefs and practices of these religions belittled and disturbed the teachings, spiritual practices, and ultimately life of Indigenous peoples. His book calls for spiritual healing, through applying the spiritual values of Indigenous life into our daily practices in the twenty-first century.

Hopefully this book will be part of a trio of books for a discussion of ideas in late May and early June 2022.

McDougall of Alberta – John  Maclean D.D.

Life of Reverend John McDougall, pathfinder of empire and profit of the plains.

Medicine Walk – Richard Wagamese

When 16-year-old Franklin Starlight is called to visit his estranged father, Eldon, he finds him decimated after years of drinking. What ensues is a difficult journey through the rugged and starkly beautiful backdrop of the British Columbia interior and a vivid journey together into the past. Eldon relates to Frank the desolate moments of his life, and the times as well of happiness and hope, and he tells of sacrifices made in the name of love. In doing so, he offers his son a world the boy has never seen, a history he has never known. Richard Wagamese uses insight and compassion are matched by his remarkable gifts of storytelling and his ability to create characters that will live in our hearts long after the last page is turned.

One Drum – Richard Wagamese

One Drum draws from the foundational teachings of Ojibway tradition, the Grandfather Teachings. Focusing specifically on the lessons of humility, respect and courage, the volume invites reader to unite in ceremony to heal themselves and bring harmony to their lives and communities.

One Native Life – Richard Wagamese

This book was published in 2008. Just when I believed I could not face or read another story about the life of Indigenous people in Canada, I came across this book. It is a series of stories written at dawn by a lake in British Columbia and it gently allows the reader into the author’s life. I was struck by the author’s courage and determination in recalling encounters of kindness and love, throughout a life marked by brutality and discrimination. His book asks his readers to live principled lives, and to honour the spiritual ceremonies and teachings of Indigenous people. To the Teachings – Rupert Ross

Other side of the River – Alf Dumont

Alf Dumont walks between the two worlds of Indigenous and settler, traditional spirituality and Christianity. In the other side of the river, he shares stories of building bridges between these worlds. Dumont challenges the church to re-examine the theology behind its past decisions around residential schools so that it might live out the words of its apologies. He challenges the country to re-examine its responsibilities and relationships with Indigenous people. Through stories, humor, poetry and insight, Dumont encourages all people to sit down together again and share a new way. (note: Alf Dumont was for many years the speaker of the United Church of Canada’s All Native Circle Conference.)

Restoring Indigenous Leadership – edited by Voyageur, Brearley and Calliou

Restoring Indigenous leadership is a foundational resource of the most recent scholarship on Indigenous leadership. The authors in this anthology share their research through non-fictional narratives, innovative approaches to Indigenous community leadership, and inspiring accounts of success, presenting many models for Indigenous leadership development. These engaging stories are followed by a wise practice section featuring seven significant contemporary case study summaries. The book  promotes hope for the future, Individual agency, and knowledge of successful community economic development based upon community assets. It is a diverse collection of iterative and future oriented ways to achieve community growth that acknowledges the centrality of Indigenous culture and identity.

Returning to the Teachings – Rupert Ross

During a three year secondment with Justice Canada, Ross travelled from the Yukon to Cape Breton Island, examining – and experiencing – the widespread Aboriginal preference for “peacemaker justice.” In this remarkable book, he invites us to accompany him as he moves past the pain and suffering that grip so many communities and into the exceptional promise of individual, family and community healing that traditional teachings are now restoring to Aboriginal Canada. He shares his confusion, frustrations and delights as Elders and other teachers guide him, in their unique and often puzzling ways, into ancient visions of creation and our role with it.

Sacred Instructions – Sherri Mitchell, Weh’na Ha’mu’ Kwasset (She Who Brings the Light)

A narrative of Indigenous wisdom that provides a roadmap for the spirit and a compass of compassion for humanity. Drawing from ancestral knowledge, as well as her experience as an attorney and activist, Sherri Mitchell addresses some of the most crucial issues of our day, such as environmental protection and human rights.

Seven Fallen Feathers – Tanya Talaga

From 2000 to 2011, seven Indigenous high school students died in Thunder Bay, Ontario. They were hundreds of kilometres away from their families, forced to leave home because there was no adequate high schools on their reserves. Five were found dead in the rivers surrounding Lake Superior, below a sacred Indigenous site. Using a sweeping narrative focusing on the lives of the students, award-winning investigative journalists Tanya Talaga delves into the history of this northern city that has come to manifest Canada’s long struggle with human rights violations against Indigenous communities.

Speaking My Truth: Reflections in Reconciliation and Residential School – edited by Rogers, Degagne, Dewer and Lowry

Reflections on reconciliation and residential school. History is the account we present to ourselves of our collective journey. This account, if it is to be faithful and compassionate, must include the first hand accounts of residential school experiences. Accounts of those who were separated from their families, from their communities, and from relationships with other Canadians. Colonialism is based on an elemental violence: the taking of what is not ones to take and giving of what is not ones to give. Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going? This collection of essays delivers us to the proper work of dialogue answering some questions but inevitably provoking discussion.

Stolen Life – Yvonne Johnson/Rudi Wiebe

A powerful autobiography from Yvonne Johnson – the great-great granddaughter of Cree leader Chief Big Bear. This is the unforgettable true story of Yvonne Johnson’s early life and a revealing account of injustice toward Indigenous women. After being convicted of murder in 1991, Johnson collaborated with acclaimed writer Rudy Wiebe to journey into her spirit self, to share the conflict and abuse that characterized her life.

These Mountains Are Our Sacred Places – John Snow

The first authentic history of the Stoney people, this book describes with clarity, sensitivity, and depth the Indigenous world and worldview pre-and post treaty. By consulting archival records, tribal oral history, and the traditional spirituality and wisdom of the Stoney Nakoda people, Chief John Snow successfully created the first written history of his people.

Think Indigenous: Native American Spirit – Doug Good Feather

We all have this knowing; we just need to be reminded. There is a natural law – a spiritual intelligence that we are all born with that lies within our hearts. Lakota spiritual leader Doug Good Feather shares the authentic knowledge that has been handed down through the Lakota generations to help you make and recognize this divine connection, centred around the seven sacred directions in the hoop of life. Once you begin to understand and recognize these strands you can integrate them into modern life.

Twenty-one Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act – Bob Joseph

Since its creation in 1876, the Indian Act has dictated and constrained the lives and opportunities of Indigenous peoples, and is at the root of many of many enduring stereotypes. Bob Joseph examines how Indigenous Peoples can return to self-governance, self-determination, and self-reliance – and why doing so would result in a better country for every Canadian. He dissects the complex issues around the Indian act, and demonstrates why learning about its cruel and irrevocable legacy is vital for the country to move toward true reconciliation.

Unreconciled – Jesse Wente

Jesse Wente remembers the exact moment he realized he was a certain kind of Indian – a stereotypical cartoon Indian. He was playing softball when the opposing team began to war-whoop when he was at bat. That, and many similar incidents, formed Wente’s understanding of what it means to be a modern Indigenous person in a society still overwhelmingly colonial in its attitudes and institutions. Part memoir and part manifesto, Unreconciled  calls for a new, respectful relationship between Canada and Indigenous peoples.