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Indigenous Writes

A Guide to First Nations, Métis, & Inuit Issues in Canada

By Chelsea Vowel
Imprint: HighWater Press

Categories: Social Science, Indigenous Studies, History, Post-Confederation (1867-), Political Science, Colonialism & Post-Colonialism, Law, Indigenous Peoples
Paperback : 9781553796800, 291 pages, September 2016
Ebook (PDF) : 9781553796848, 240 pages, August 2016
Ebook (EPUB) : 9781553796893, 240 pages, January 2017
Ebook (Mobi) : 9781553797043, 290 pages, February 2017
Audiobook : 9781553799146, November 2020

Table of contents



Introduction: How to Read This Book 

Part 1. The Terminology of Relationships 

  1. Just Don’t Call Us Late for Supper Names for Indigenous Peoples
  2. Settling on a Name Names for Non-Indigenous Canadians

Part 2. Culture and Identity

  1. Got Status? Indian Status in Canada
  2. You’re Métis? Which of Your Parents Is an Indian? Métis Identity
  3. Feel the Inukness Inuit Identity
  4. Hunter-Gatherers or Trapper-Harvesters? Why Some Terms Matter
  5. Allowably Indigenous: To Ptarmigan or Not to Ptarmigan When Indigeneity Is Transgressive
  6. Caught in the Crossfire of Blood-Quantum Reasoning Popular Notions of Indigenous Purity
  7. What Is Cultural Appropriation? Respecting Cultural Boundaries
  8. Check the Tag on That “Indian” Story How to Find Authentic Indigenous Stories
  9. Icewine, Roquefort Cheese, and the Navajo Nation Indigenous Use of Intellectual Property Laws
  10. All My Queer Relations Language, Culture, and Two-Spirit Identity

Part 3. Myth-Busting

  1. The Myth of Progress
  2. The Myth of the Level Playing Field
  3. The Myth of Taxation
  4. The Myth of Free Housing 
  5. The Myth of the Drunken Indian 
  6. The Myth of the Wandering Nomad
  7. The Myth of Authenticity 

Part 4. State Violence

  1. Monster The Residential-School Legacy
  2. Our Stolen Generations The Sixties and Millennial Scoops
  3. Human Flagpoles Inuit Relocation
  4. From Hunters to Farmers Indigenous Farming on the Prairies
  5. Dirty Water, Dirty Secrets Drinking Water in First Nations Communities
  6. No Justice, No Peace The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples

Part 5. Land, Learning, Law, and Treaties

  1. Rights? What Rights? Doctrines of Colonialism
  2. Treaty Talk The Evolution of Treaty-Making in Canada
  3. The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same Numbered Treaties and Modern Treaty-Making
  4. Why Don’t First Nations Just Leave the Reserve? Reserves Are Not the Problem
  5. White Paper, What Paper? More Attempts to Assimilate Indigenous Peoples
  6. Our Children, Our Schools Fighting for Control Over Indigenous Education


Delgamuukw. Sixties Scoop. Bill C-31. Blood quantum. Appropriation. Two-Spirit. Tsilhqot’in. Status. TRC. RCAP. FNPOA. Pass and permit. Numbered Treaties. Terra nullius. The Great Peace…

Are you familiar with the terms listed above? In Indigenous Writes, Chelsea Vowel, legal scholar, teacher, and intellectual, opens an important dialogue about these (and more) concepts and the wider social beliefs associated with the relationship between Indigenous Peoples and Canada. In 31 essays, Chelsea explores the Indigenous experience from the time of contact to the present, through five categories—Terminology of Relationships; Culture and Identity; Myth-Busting; State Violence; and Land, Learning, Law, and Treaties. She answers the questions that many people have on these topics to spark further conversations at home, in the classroom, and in the larger community.

Indigenous Writes is one title in The Debwe Series.


  • Winner, Manuela Dias Design and Illustration Awards, Book Design 2017


A convincing case for rejecting the prevailing policies of “assimilation, control, intrusion and coercion” regarding aboriginal people.

Kirkus Reviews

While subtitled A Guide to First Nations, Métis and Inuit Issues in Canada, it would be a mistake to see Indigenous Writes as a book primarily about Indigenous people. Instead, it is much more about all of us—our relationship as non-Indigenous and Indigenous Canadians, and how it has been shaped (and misshaped) by the historic and contemporary governance of these issues.

For any Canadian who wishes to have an informed opinion about the country that we share—or, more to the point, publicly share that opinion—Indigenous Writes is essential reading.

Michael Dudley, Winnipeg Free Press

Indigenous Writes is a timely book…and contains enough critical information to challenge harmful assumptions and facilitate understanding. This is a book for everyone—but particularly for non-Indigenous people wishing to better understand their own place in the history of violence against Indigenous peoples, and to find ways to move toward true solutions and right relationships.

Daniel Rück, Montreal Review of Books

[Chelsea Vowel] punctures the bloated tropes that have frozen Indigenous peoples in time, often to the vanishing point. Reading Indigenous Writes, you feel that you are having a conversation over coffee with a super-smart friend, someone who refuses to simplify, who chooses to amplify, who is unafraid to kick against the darkness... What this book really is, is medicine.

Shelagh Rogers, O.C., Broadcast Journalist, TRC Honorary Witness

Chelsea attacks issues head on, with humour and wit, sarcasm and cynicism and clear, concise and well-organized information. She makes further research easy, as every chapter includes copious endnotes with links to her curated resources. She explains the terminology of identity—status, non-status, registered, membership, Métis, Inuit, cultural appropriation and two-spiritedness.

Nancy Adams-Kramp, The Millstone

Vowel’s voice and personality remain present throughout each essay. Her use of vernacular, humour, and at times, sarcasm add layers of meaning, underscore arguments and carry her and her readers through discussions of infuriating facts and difficult, often painful issues.

Rosalind Hampton, McGill Journal of Education