kisiskâciwan - Indigenous Voices from Where the River Flows Swiftly by Jesse Rae Archibald-Barber is an anthology of indigenous voices from the territory now known as Saskatchewan in Canada. The collection contains plays, poems, transcribed oral narratives, written narratives, stories, essays, traditions, and more from Cree, Saulteaux, Nakoda, Dakota, Dene, and Métis cultures native to the land. Containing content from the 19th century until today, kisiskâciwan takes us through times before the First Nations treaties and the times afterwards, and absolutely breaks your heart over and over again.
kisiskâciwan is a hard book to review: there is so much content in just one book. Recollections of Cree leaders during the treaties and the rebellion, traditional stories were passed along through oral history and that have been put in writing at some point during the last century or so, essays on the importance of preservation of indigenous culture and language, personal stories on everyday life on the reservation, folklore, battles, stories of warriors and stories of death, recounts of the absolute crushing machine of colonialization, narratives of the horrors of residential schools, of being ripped away from your family and forced to be someone you are not, and poems of swimming back through the horrors, the loss, and the changes to understand where one comes from. Amongst so much more.
kisiskâciwan contains work from writers such as Abel Watetch, Edward Ahenakew, Gloria Mehlmann, Priscilla Settee, Howard Adams, Big Bear, Thunderchild, Louis Riel, Gabriel Dumont, Rita Bouvier, Harold Johnson, Louise Halfe, and my own personal heroine Buffy Sainte-Marie, and so many more. I have discovered so many artists that I now need to read, hear, and watch, and I can’t wait to do more research on them.
There is so much importance in the creation and reading and passing along of these types of anthologies, not just for preservation and continuation, but also for education. Because honestly with our whitewashed education there is no way we are going to learn real history unless we step outside of our own comfort zones and read and listen and soak in the voices of those who lived through the reality of history.
I have to purchase this book as soon as it is published because I will need to revisit parts of it over and over again, and reread some of the stories. It’s not a book you can really read in one setting, it needs to be absorbed, thought about, understood. I don’t know how I can really do it justice to be honest in this review, so I will just say that it’s a must have. You may prefer certain narratives to others, be more interested in certain stories over others, but each word needs to be read and digested properly. A must have. (I know I said that twice).
kisiskâciwan - Indigenous Voices from Where the River Flows will be published by University of Regina Press on April 24th, 2018. Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the advance copy!