Rediscovering the First Nations of Canada

1997 John W Friesen
Detselig Enterprises.

ISBN: 978-1550591439
Rediscovering the First Nations of Canada explores the intriguing question of what might have happened if the invading Europeans of the 15th and 16th centuries had arrived with a more appreciative stance towards the ways of the First Nations. Careful note is made of cultural features, inventions and creative adaptations that could have benefited the European newcomers had they taken the time to discover and learn instead of seeking to subjugate and conquer… This book offers an insightful overview of Aboriginal cultures across the country in terms of their history, lifestyle, specialties and spirituality. The tour begins with the Beothuk and Micmac (Mi’kmaq) on the east coast, swings through the woodland territories of the Huron, Ojibway and Iroquois, explores the cultural milieu of the Plains First Nations, then journeys west to the Plateau Region and the Pacific west coast where the Bella Coola (Nuxalk), Haida (Xa’ida), Kwakiutl (Kwakwaka’wakw), Tlingit, Tsimshian, and so on are visited. A final northern lap includes visits to Dene and Inuit country. Each cultural configuration is introduced by a local tribal legend to demonstrate the teaching/learning impact and efficacy of the oral tradition. It is sometimes speculated that “things might have been different” if the first European invaders had listened to the Aboriginal peoples. Rediscovering the First Nations of Canada offers some challenging leads to conversations on that topic.
The author, John W. Friesen, provides an overview of the history, lifestyles, specialties, and spiritualities of these people exploring the question of how present day circumstances and issues may be different had the first Europeans at contact appreciated the many features of aboriginal peoples’ contributions to the global community. This book is well researched and written drawing upon both historical documents and personal experiences and relations with First Nations communities.

–Saskatchewan Learning, 2003
Despite the problems of trying to be fair to everyone, Friesen’s Rediscovering First Nations of Canada deals clearly and concisely with a difficult topic. His use of anthropological, linguistic, geographical and historical methodologies show how scholars can explore different avenues to relate the complete history of Canada, rather than viewing Indigenous history through the Eurocentric concept of prehistory. Another strength of this work is that Friesen maintains that awareness of Indigenous philosophical approaches is very prevalent and most important in today’s reality. These strengths make this book useful for specialists in Canadian Native history and a good teaching reference. From a Native perspective, once more, the great lack is the oral tradition, which has yet to find its place within academia.

–Rodolfo Pino, Saskatchewan Indian Federated College
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