Thunder in my Soul: A Mohawk Woman Speaks


273 pages
Contains Bibliography
ISBN 1-895686-46-6
DDC 323.1'197071




Reviewed by Kerry Abel

Kerry Abel is a professor of history at Carleton University. She is the author of Drum Songs: Glimpses of Dene History, co-editor of Aboriginal Resource Use in Canada: Historical and Legal Aspects, and co-editor of Northern Visions: New Perspectives on the North in Canadian History.


In this collection of 12 essays, Mohawk lawyer and teacher Patricia
Monture-Angus draws on her experiences in Canadian law schools to
condemn academia and the law as institutions that perpetuate
colonialism, racism, and sexism in contemporary Canada. Change for
Native people, she argues, is possible only if people at the community
level take responsibility for themselves by establishing women-centred
aboriginal institutions. “We do not want into the existing system in
greater numbers,” she writes. “We want out!”

The sentiments expressed in these essays are not new, but they are
conveyed with a passion and conviction that will either resonate
powerfully with readers or annoy them tremendously. Like a growing
number of young Native people, the author went to law school hoping to
learn about the principles of justice in the belief that therein lay the
key to promoting Native rights. Instead, she discovered that the law is
not a neutral instrument of justice and that the solution to Native
oppression must therefore be sought elsewhere. While many of the essays
expand on this point, others go beyond it to condemn all non-Native ways
of knowing. Sweeping generalizations about both Native and non-Native
epistemology tend to undermine the author’s argument, and she seems
unaware of the fact that her descriptions of a supposedly distinct
“Aboriginal way of learning” are strongly reminiscent of educational
philosophies that have been around since the days of John Dewey. The
real value of Thunder in My Soul lies in its articulation of what many
Native people in Canada are feeling today.


Monture-Angus, Patricia., “Thunder in my Soul: A Mohawk Woman Speaks,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 21, 2024,