Daniel N. Paul,
We Were Not the Savages:
Collision between European & Native American Civilizations

(Fernwood, 2006)

We Were Not the Savages is the Native American history book written for me. Here is a native author who used the Europeans' own documents to prove their dastardly deeds and show that, when compared to the Mi'kmaq, the Europeans were the honorless savages. Daniel N. Paul puts history under the microscope, and it does not look anything like the history textbooks utilized throughout North America.

Again, let me emphasize that Paul used the white man's documents, so it cannot be said he twisted the facts.

The author states his purpose as "to persuade the majority society to use whatever power they have to see that Canada makes meaningful amends for the horrifying wrongs of the past." In his foreword, he points out that Canada has kept these horrors under wraps for centuries.

I believe he has blown the lid off of the Canadian Pandora's Box! He got in several hits on the "south of the border" side of our continent to illustrate how the Canadian natives were seeing what happened to the American natives and building a healthy distrust and contempt for the whites. Meanwhile, the Canadian government was following the American lead. For example, Cornwallis issued his bounty for scalps in accordance with the practice in America.

This is 400 pages of history like you have never read it. After examining the pre-Columbian Mi'kmaq culture, government, beliefs and lifestyle (and comparing it to the Europeans), the author takes us on a journey through the centuries from the 1600s to the present. His writing style is beautiful. It is almost like he is saying: "Come, sit here and let me show you a story." He flows along with his shocking narrative through the eras and phases with perfect fluidity.

We Were Not the Savages is one heck of an impressive book. It is the work of a genius! It is an awesome piece of literature that every history buff should own.

Paul, born on the Indian Brook Reserve in Nova Scotia, is a justice of the peace for the province and a commissioner with the Nova Scotia Police Commission. He was employed by the Department of Indian Affairs from 1971 to 1986. In 1986 he became the founding executive director of the Confederacy of Mainland Mi'kmaq.

[ visit the artist's website ]

review by
Alicia Karen Elkins

9 August 2008

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