peace pipe dreams coverReviewed by Christine Smith (McFarlane)

First Nations people have heard it all, when it comes to the lies or misconceptions that are spread about them. You know, the ones that say “Natives don’t pay taxes” or  “Man, you Indians got it good. The government gives you so many breaks.”  The list goes on, but I can’t fit it all into this review.  Boy do I wish I could.

In Peace Pipe Dreams: The Truth about Lies about Indians, author Darrell Dennis talks about these lies and misconceptions and also tougher subjects like European-Native interactions in North America from the moment of first contact, the fur trade, treaties and residential schools, to today’s topics of what it means to be status Indian, to the proper terminology in which Native people like to be called.

He also writes about how certain stories of history can illustrate how easily misconceptions about the history of Native people are accepted as fact even without tangible proof. An example of this is how “volumes have been written about the treatment of Native people at the hands of Columbus and his crew”.

At first contact, Columbus recorded that the “Indians” treated the newcomers with extreme hospitality and charity. However, the Europeans regarded this kindness as ignorance and inferiority and immediately set about enslaving them, raping them and viciously slaughtering all those who attempted to defend themselves. On subsequent trips to the Americas, Columbus frequently kidnapped Indians to be brought back to Spain as slaves. Many of them did not survive the trip.”

Suffice to say, what I mention above, is not what we were taught in our school’s history books, and it is these misrepresentations and misconceptions that continue to feed into what the mainstream public think of First Nations people.

Peace Pipe Dreams: The Truth about Lies about Indians covers all too familiar territory that other writers have written about- such as the book “The Inconvenient Indian” written by Thomas King, but it is done in a way that employs pop culture, personal anecdote and cutting edge wit.  It provides an overview that everyone can connect with in one way or another, and it is important in the sense that it provides a convincing argument for why First Nations issues matter today.

Peace Pipe Dreams: The Truth about Lies about Indians is published by Douglas & McIntyre, and is 232 pages. ISBN: 978-1-77100-040-6