For an Amerindian Autohistory: An Essay on the Foundations of a Social Ethic

Description

125 pages
Contains Bibliography
$29.95
ISBN 0-7735-0950-X
DDC 971.004970072

Year

1992

Contributor

Translated by Sheila Fischman
Reviewed by Jean Manore

Jean Manore is a policy assistant at the Department of Native Affairs.

Review

Sioui, a member of the Wendat-Huron First Nation, provides a polemical
discussion of the merits of the Amerindian belief in the Sacred Circle
of Life as opposed to the Euro-Canadian belief in linear progress, and
proposes that history should shift toward the Amerindian ideology. He
supports his argument by providing an Amerindian interpretation of
certain historical events.

Chapter 1 argues that the European “conquest” of the Americas was
achieved not by soldiers but by microbes (not a new idea). The next two
chapters explain the Amerindian belief in the Sacred Circle of Life and
how it encompasses all life-forms, not just those best equipped for
survival.

The next three chapters offer a Wendat-Huron interpretation of the
destruction of Huronia, the writings of Lahontan, and the dispersal of
the Wendat to and within Quebec. These chapters are the most
controversial. For those who believe Canadian political structures are
fundamentally European, Sioui’s argument that the Amerindians brought
“democracy” to Europeans may be hard to accept. Also, his
inattention to historical context, as traditionally defined, is
problematic. For example, his suggestion that Europe’s Green Party is
a direct result of Amerindian influence on European thinking is open to
criticism; because the Green Party is often notoriously militant, it
would seem to have more in common with the European worldview than with
Amerindian one. The book concludes with an appendix that is really an
essay on the failings of Canadian and European jurisprudence. Why was so
important a topic simply tacked on at the end of the book?

This book is a polemic that some readers may have difficulty accepting.
Nevertheless, the need for Canadian historians to view history from a
fresh perspective and bring to light Amerindian interpretations of that
history is a point that warrants attention.

Citation

Sioui, Georges E., “For an Amerindian Autohistory: An Essay on the Foundations of a Social Ethic,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 14, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/12719.