• The Inconvenient Indian

  • A Curious Account of Native People in North America
  • By: Thomas King
  • Narrated by: Lorne Cardinal
  • Length: 9 hrs and 56 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (163 ratings)

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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.
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic Reviews

"[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)

What listeners say about The Inconvenient Indian

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amazing

a really important work, told with grace and humor. the narrator does a wonderful job, bringing great life to this book.

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Thought this was great

Narrator very good and the shocking story of treatment of these first Americans sad and somehow hopeful as they keep sending n keeping on

4 people found this helpful

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Embarrassing

Brilliant review of the history and current state of North American governments’ treatment of Indian peoples. This is much more embarrassing for the citizens of the U.S. and Canada than I thought possible.

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good overview of indian-white relations w/ exmples

The complicated history of indian-white relations told with slightly ironic and sarcastic humor (as much as the subject allows for, there are plenty of tragic events mentioned). Difficult subject, but it's necessary to be aware of this history.

2 people found this helpful

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truth, provided with humor

loved it, recommend this to anyone who is Indian, lives near Indians or works with Indians. this is a very honest description of our history, not what is taught in school.

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Yt ppl ruin everything

I loved everything about this book, the histories are on point, the attitude, the criticizing of all you Europeans on our land. What a beautiful piece of knowledge that will be shared as often as I can share it and read to my future children.

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Highly informative

Very well done. Covers Native Americans in both the U.S. and Canada. As the author is personally involved, it's also a personal and therefore more meaningful telling. It was hard to believe that the reader was not the author. Highly effective and informative.

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I Thought I'd Enjoy This More

I've loved Thomas King as an author since I was in university - and I love the narrator as an actor - but this is a terrible pairing. Everything he says is done with an intonation that implies that Native American's played no active role in their own history and that white colonists, universally, worked to exterminate them - then lied about it. I'd love to get a text copy of this book and read it without the intervening layer of the narrator putting his own spin on the words. As is, I feel as though the author is propagating the ridiculous myth that Native Americans lived in some kind of lost eden before the arrival of Europeans - which infantilized indigenous people and makes everyone come off as some kind of two-dimensional character in a cheap novel. Native people's played an active role in their own history, and both sides were trying to preserve their way of life while escaping persecution from outside forces.

This is the history of the human species, and it is naive to believe that Native peoples were immune to the pressures of war, famine, slavery and social divides before the arrival of Columbus. In an ever changing world, technology had advanced, and would continue to advance, enough to allow, what had been, two geographically isolated groups of people (Native American and Europeans) to interact more often and more freely. This is the nature of globalization - it is not a force that could have been stopped (or can be). That is not to say that wrongs were not committed, or that I would suggest behaving like early colonists; since I hope that we have all grown more tolerant of each other as a species. However, I do believe that we all have to stop believing our own historically constructed and self-aggrandizing myths and look at our history(s) with clarity, and an understanding of the human condition.

If you believe that the human species came out of Africa than you also have to accept that migration has been a part of human history since the beginning. People will always move from places of danger or scarcity to places of (hoped for) safety and plenty. The modern refuge crises is a prime example. Some of these immigrants will go home, as did some Europeans from North America, but once you've put forth the effort to build a new life in a new place - for whatever reason - you rarely want to rip your life apart again to reverse the process. I would argue that we've all come from somewhere else. Go ahead and get your DNA tested and see what it says.

Examine the past without apology or prejudice and then look to the future - and leave the world better then you found it. None of us can change where we were born, or to whom. Tribalism, and the modern-day equivalent of nationalism, needs to be tossed into the rubbish heap of history so that we can realize that we're all in it together. Lets stop pissing in the corners of our respective territories, because it makes the whole world stink.

8 people found this helpful

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Wow

Tom King does the seemingly impossible. He tells the history of the relationship between indigenous North Americans, and the governments of Canada and the U.S., with all the outrageous lies and governmental and abuses. And somehow, King makes an important work funny and enjoyable to read.

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A Bittersweet Read

I loved what felt an honest reflection of North American Indian history. I finished heavy hearted because the narrative is traumatic but not without hope. The power of this book lies in the many accounts of perseverance amongst Indians/Natives. Highly recommend!

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  • D. D. Pianta
  • 11-05-19

great!

it should be part of the school curriculum! great account of events. really interesting, highly recommended

1 person found this helpful

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  • johnnie
  • 11-19-21

Such inconveniences on all fronts. My apologies.

"The inconvenient Indian..."
The persistent gentle irony is excellent and given the density of "facts" Mr King outputs, it is well written and yet skips you through them. The Indian future looks bleak but for their burgeoning gambling industry...that may be a salvation but then so sad.
Now I see the behaviours of the American white folk had to be the inspiration for the "Borg" in Star trek.
Me UK citizen. Me Anglo french caucasian. Me very sorry.