‘Dreaming in Indian’ defies stereotypes

Dreaming in Indian: Contemporary Native American Voices is a visually stunning and thought-provoking anthology featuring the work 46 First Nations, Inuit and Métis artists.

Both established and first-time authors, musicians, poets, filmmakers, photographers and creative thinkers contribute to the book on such questions as identity, authentic voice and honesty.

This collection, published by Annick Press, marks a turning point in Aboriginal young adult creative nonfiction. Editors Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale have collected and organized the 46 submissions into four key themes: Roots, Battles, Medicines and Dreamcatchers.

The editors welcome readers with their reason for compiling this volume: “This book stemmed from a desire to showcase the real life of Indigenous people.”

The selections include poems, memoirs, short stories, fashion spreads, hip hop lyrics, art, photographs, essays, interviews, comics, and song lyrics from well-established authors such as Joseph Boyden, Duke Redbird, and Isabelle Knockwood to aspiring artists such as grade 3 student Macheshuu Needganagwedgin, Chayla Dekorme Maracle, Abigail Whiteye, and grade six student Aja Sy.

The works address universal themes such as identity, home, bullying, gender, environment, sports, and dreams that will appeal to all readers. Topics unique for First Nations authors include residential schools, land rights, social justice, traditional dance, humour, stereotyping, appropriation, and walking in two worlds.

Readers will find these works will shatter stereotypes and challenge long-held biases through images and text. Chef Aaron Bear Robe, for example, explains how he introduces restaurant customers to his culture by reinventing traditional dishes, and in a dramatic photo spread, model Ashley Callingbull and photographer Thosh Collins re-appropriate the fashion trend of wearing ‘Indian’ clothing.

Not all writing is serious, as the stand-up comedian Ryan McMahon makes his own truth through images and quotes, and Keesic Douglas’ photographs pay tribute to the four reservation food groups: Wonder bread, Cheez Whiz, Kam and Kool-Aid.

Every entry in the anthology will make you think about Indigenous people in Canada and their histories, cultures and past, present and future aspirations. Well-known and aspiring Ongwehowe contributors include Derek Miller, Waneek Horn-Miller, Charlotte Skaruianewah Logan, Chayla Delorme Maracle, Courtney Powless, Kit Thomas, and Alida Kinnie Starr.

Part of the visual appeal of this volume is the innovative and captivating design enhancing each contribution. In the world of young adult book publishing, this collection makes an outstanding contribution in its layout and overall design. The cover collage and all interior design was created by the talented Inti Amaterasu.

This book is highly recommended for all public library collections and secondary school libraries, as well as introductory college and university courses on English Literature and Indigenous Studies.

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