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A Short History of Indians in Canada

A Short History of Indians in Canada: Stories

Thomas King
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 232
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  • Book Info
    A Short History of Indians in Canada
    Book Description:

     Winner of the McNally Robinson Aboriginal Book of the Year and the Aboriginal Fiction Book of the Year-a collection of twenty short stories told in Thomas King's classic, wry, irreverent, and allegorical voice.

    eISBN: 978-1-4529-4035-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[viii])
  3. A Short History of Indians in Canada
    (pp. 1-4)

    Can’t sleep, Bob Haynie tells the doorman at the King Eddie. Can’t sleep, can’t sleep.

    First time in Toronto? says the doorman.

    Yes, says Bob.



    Looking for some excitement?


    Bay Street, sir, says the doorman.

    Bob Haynie catches a cab to Bay Street at three in the morning. He loves the smell of concrete. He loves the look of city lights. He loves the sound of skyscrapers.

    Bay Street.


    Bob looks up just in time to see a flock of Indians fly into the side of the building.

    Smack! Smack!

    Bob looks up just in time...

  4. Tidings of Comfort and Joy
    (pp. 5-19)

    It was beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and the winter storm that drifted through the Caledon Hills during the night should have raised Hudson Gold’s spirits. Winter was, after all, his favourite season, and he was always delighted with the first snow, with the way it lay on the dense firs thick as frosting, with the way the bare branches of the birches and the maples wrapped themselves in ice and flashed like cut crystal in the cold light. Even the dark, dank beaver ponds that Eleanor had imported all the way from Cleveland looked crisp and festive....

  5. The Dog I Wish I Had, I Would Call It Helen
    (pp. 20-33)

    Jonathan lay in the tub with just his head and butt out of the water and practised his swimming. “I am swimming because I am four now, and, when you are four, you have to know how to swim.”

    “That’s right,” said Helen.

    “In case a ghost throws you in the lake.”

    “It’s always good to be safe around water.”

    “Only the ghost wouldn’t do it on purpose. Only if she slipped.”

    “Let’s wash your hair now.”

    “Am I four now?”

    “Yes, honey. Yesterday was your birthday.”

    “But I didn’t get my dog.”

    “Should I use the bunny soap or...

  6. The Baby in the Airmail Box
    (pp. 34-49)

    The baby arrives in a cardboard box with a handful of airmail stamps stuck on top and a label that says, “Rocky Creek First Nations.”

    Orena Charging Woman brings the box to the council meeting and sets it in the middle of the table. “All right,” she says, after all of the band councillors have settled in their chairs, “who ordered the baby?”

    “Baby?” says Louis Standing, who is currently the chief and gets to sit in the big chair by the window. “What baby?”

    Orena opens the airmail box and bends the flaps back so everyone can get a...

  7. Coyote and the Enemy Aliens
    (pp. 50-70)

    You know, everyone likes a good story. Yes, that’s true. My friend Napioa comes by my place. My good place. My good place by the river. Sometimes that Napioa comes by my good place and says, tell us a good story. So I do. Sometimes I tell those good stories from the Indian time. And sometimes I tell those good stories from the European time. Grown-up stories. Baby stories.

    Sometimes I take a nap.

    Sometimes I tell Coyote stories. Boy, you got to be careful with those Coyote stories. When I tell those Coyote stories, you got to stay awake....

  8. Haida Gwaii
    (pp. 71-77)

    He hit an eagle.

    The phone rings. I wake up. An eagle, Steven says. Would you believe it? At Queen and Yonge. Making a right turn.

    What time is it?

    You’re Native, he whispers into the phone. Do something.

    I squeeze the pillow against my breasts. There are no eagles in Toronto, I tell him. It’s a seagull, they don’t mind being hit.

    A friend in Alberta once showed me an eagle hung on a fence, its head blown away by a farmer from Fort Macleod who feared the bird might want something he owned. Might swoop down and pick...

  9. Little Bombs
    (pp. 78-85)

    So far as Larry could remember, Janice started hiding the bombs the same week that the Plymouth died. There had been symptoms, of course. A deep, grinding growl. Iridescent pools of oil and gas in the driveway. A thumping knock that telescoped up through the steering wheel and made Janice’s hands and arms numb.

    It was Janice’s car, and, for the eight months that it staggered and sputtered about, Larry was sympathetic. “I don’t know what to do, honey. We can’t afford a new one, and it doesn’t make much sense to throw good money after bad.” And he would...

  10. The Colour of Walls
    (pp. 86-89)

    Harper Stevenson arrived at work on Friday and discovered that the walls in his office had been painted brown.

    “I asked for white,” Harper told his secretary, “not brown.”

    “They’re not brown,” said his secretary, “they’re polar almond.”

    Harper held his hand up against the wall. “See that?” he said. “Let’s paint it again.”

    On the weekend Harper went to the cottage, played a round of golf at the new resort on the lake, relaxed in the lounge chair on his dock, and arrived at the office on Monday to find his secretary and a tall black woman in yellow...

  11. Bad Men Who Love Jesus
    (pp. 90-93)

    Jesus takes the bus as far as the Rolling Rock Café in Testament, Alberta, and walks the forty miles to the Garden River Indian Reserve.

    Hide me, he begs the secretary at the band office, for the love of God, hide me.

    You know how to run a copier? Mary hands Jesus the agenda for the band council meeting. Either lend a hand, she tells him, or get out of the way.

    Jesus stands at the copier, stacking paper in the cradle and watching the machine collate and staple, collate and staple, collate and staple.

    I think I lost them...

  12. The Closer You Get to Canada, the More Things Will Eat Your Horses
    (pp. 94-106)

    The Fernhill Senior Game Preserve was alive with activity. All morning, the trucks had been bringing in the racks of camouflage clothing, tins of candle black, and hundreds of pairs of high-top boots, running shoes, and woolen gloves.

    Mason Walthers leaned on his cane. The arthritis was getting worse. He could feel it in his knees and hips now. It would be sheer luck if he got through another season.

    “Next!” said the blond man in the blue suit. Mason couldn’t keep track of them anymore. They all looked alike. There was a silver badge on his blazer: “Henry Culler,...

  13. Not Enough Horses
    (pp. 107-111)

    When Clinton Merasty showed up at Sarah Heavyman’s place with the box, Sarah’s father, Houston, was not particularly impressed.


    “Kittens,” said Clinton. “I want to marry your daughter.”

    “That’s the way we used to do it in the old days, all right,” said Houston.

    “Yeah,” said Clinton, “I know.”

    “Times change, I suppose,” said Houston. “In the old days, when a man wanted to marry a woman, he’d bring horses.”

    When Clinton rang the doorbell on Saturday, he was carrying four boxes of honey-garlic sausages in his arms.

    “Happy Canada Day,” Clinton told Houston.

    “Holy,” said Houston, when he...

  14. Noah’s Ark
    (pp. 112-126)

    After Papa and William and Mary died, Mum took me and Luke to live with Granny. She had a squat, white stucco house hedged in by white and pink hydrangea bushes that leaned on the windows and blocked the light. There was a pasture behind the house and a creek, and, beyond the creek, Mr. Noah and the zoo. At night, you could hear the screaming, far away and in the dark.

    On weekends, before Granny and Mum got up, Luke and I would slip out of the house and climb the fence into Mr. Thompson’s pasture. There were cows...

  15. Where the Borg Are
    (pp. 127-147)

    By the time Milton Friendlybear finished reading Olive Patricia Dickason’s Canada’s First Nations for a tenth-grade history assignment, he knew, without a doubt, where the Borg had gone after they had been defeated by Jean-Luc Picard and the forces of the Federation. And he included his discovery in an essay on great historical moments in Canadian history.

    Milton’s teacher, Virginia Merry, was not as impressed with Milton’s idea as he had hoped. “Milton,” she said, in that tone of voice that many lapsed Ontario Catholics reserved for correcting faulty logic, bad grammar, and inappropriate behaviour, “I’m not sure that the...

  16. States to Avoid
    (pp. 148-159)

    Avoid Utah.

    Laura and I were living in Yuba City, and I told her I was willing to stay, that Yuba City was dull but in a nice, ordinary way, and staying wouldn’t be a disaster like Vacaville or Modesto. But Laura said, “No, let’s do what you want to do. You can’t be afraid of change,” she told me. “You’ve got to follow your dream.” And, I could see her point, you know, I could see that things would be better this time.

    So I said, “All right, let’s go.”

    We packed our apartment, sold the stereo and the...

  17. Fire and Rain
    (pp. 160-168)

    I should tell you from the outset that I am a man who has been married. I should further say that I was happily married. Content. Relaxed. Fulfilled. My wife left me. No, no need to say you’re sorry. It happened months ago, and if it wasn’t for James Taylor, I wouldn’t even mention it at all. Yes, of course, the singer. Yes, the guy who was married to Carly Simon but isn’t now.

    Suzanne had an affair. All right, she had several affairs. No, not with James Taylor. You’re not listening. I don’t know exactly how many affairs she...

  18. Rendezvous
    (pp. 169-177)

    On the morning of the first day, the skunks appeared in the garden as Evelyn Doogle was having morning tea under the tree.

    “You should have seen it,” she told her husband, when he got home that night. “A mother and four babies. Paraded right past me as if they owned the place.”

    Alistair Doogle wasn’t at all sure about skunks parading through the backyard. “Fred and Lucille had skunks under their deck last year,” Alistair told Evelyn, “and it took months to get rid of them.”

    The raccoons showed up that evening, pulled the plastic cap off the roof...

  19. Domestic Furies
    (pp. 178-189)

    My mother always wanted to be the heroine in a play, a strong woman who rose above adversity or held her family together during desperate times or died beautifully of something that wasn’t contagious or embarrassing.

    She could have been an actress, she liked to tell me, and I believe that this is true, for she would move around the beauty shop as if she knew where to place each foot, when to turn, how to hold her head so that her hair caught the light that came in through the plate-glass window.

    On Sunday mornings when the shop was...

  20. The Garden Court Motor Motel
    (pp. 190-199)

    Sunday. And the train is late.

    Sonny stands at the edge of the pool at the GARDEN COURT MOTOR MOTEL scooping bugs out of the water with the long-handled net and waits for the train to come chug-chug-chugging along. So he can hear Uncle HOLIE blow the train’s horn. So he can wave to all the passengers on their way to the coast. Water in the pool is sure blue. Blue and cool. Maybe he’ll take his shirt off. But he isn’t going to get in. No, sir. No sky-blue water for him. Even if the clouds don’t come and...

  21. Not Counting the Indian, There Were Six
    (pp. 200-208)

    Auntie Beth was the scandal in our family. Before her death in a scuba-diving accident, she had had seven husbands. Not counting the Indian, there were six. Granny preferred not to count the Indian, because Beth and Juan “Kid Savage” McTavish were married in Mexico. It was an Indian ceremony; Beth sent back pictures but there was no doubt in Granny’s mind about the legitimacy of a “pow-wow” as she called it.

    “Can’t call that a marriage,” she said.

    Then, too, Granny wasn’t at all sure that Juan was really an Indian. She had lived a long time, she said,...

  22. Another Great Moment in Canadian Indian History
    (pp. 209-231)

    Until Chief Justice Gordon Steels and the rest of the British Columbia Supreme Court decided that Owen Allands could not hunt on band land because Native rights in the province had been extinguished somewhere in the nineteenth century, the main topic of conversation in Fort Goodweatherday centred on why the town did not appear on any of the provincial road maps.

    Amos Mischief insisted that it was because Fort Goodweatherday was an Indian community and wasn’t worth the ink. Everett Joe said it was because the name was too long to squeeze in alongside the names of the larger towns...

  23. Back Matter
    (pp. 232-232)