Friday, February 19, 2021

History of the Plains Cree and Freedom of Information

The Writers' Union of Canada announces that David A. Robertson is the winner of its Freedom To Read Award for this year. Robertson, of the Swampy Cree Nation, is a prolific author of graphic nonfiction on indigenous history, culture, and current events, including 7 Generations: A Plains Cree Saga, and Betty: The Helen Betty Osborne Story, and The Chief: Mistahimaskwa.  

What got him the Freedom to Read Award was having several of his works featured on "not recommended" lists by provincial and local educational authorities in Alberta.  Here's his own statement on that from the Freedom to Read website: 

In the fall of 2018, I learned of a book review website created by Edmonton Public Schools. The website listed books to weed out of school libraries and classrooms. The books were primarily by Indigenous writers. My graphic novel series 7 Generations: A Plains Cree Saga—a four-part epic that follows one Cree family over three centuries—along with several other books were “not recommended” for use. For 7 Generations, the reviewers had multiple concerns: “The graphic novel series contains sensitive subject matter and visual inferencing of abuse regarding residential schools"....

More evidence that graphic art as a historical teaching and storytelling form is exploding, much of it below the (or my) radar, and First Nations artists are becoming leaders in the field. And "comics" still have a subversive edge to them, 'tseems.  

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