BECAUSE Keith J. Crowe, the author of A History of the Original Peoples of Northern Canada (McGill-Queen's, 248 pages, $17-95 paper), worked for many years with the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs, I approached his history with skepticism. After all, even the auditor general, in his 1991 report, described Indian Affairs as shamefully incompetent, and its treatment of Native peoples has often been dishonest, to say the least. But my skepticism was unwarranted. Crowe's historical survey is not written in the language, or world view, of a bureaucrat, and his book is an extremely useful one. This is not a new book - it originally appeared 15 years ago - but in its important and courageous publishing program dealing with Canadian issues, McGill-Queen's decided to issue a revised edition with a new epilogue.
This volume is really a high school textbook. It's written in small "bites" with chapter headings like "Land and Life" and "Schools and Snowmobiles," and its nine chapters are followed by two appendixes and a list of supplementary readings. It is written in simple language, and is one of those books that will encourage readers to explore further on their own. And in this broad survey - sticking to the language of the classroom, it covers a lot of ground there are many vibrant moments, true living history, lived in the mountains and Arctic prairies, at the edge of the barrens, by the oceans and among the shining waters and dark forests.