Weasel Tail: Stories Told by Joe Crowshoe Sr. (Ááphosoy'yiis), a Peigan-Blackfoot Elder.


240 pages
Contains Photos, Maps, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 978-1-897126-28-8
DDC 971.23'400497352





Reviewed by Frits Pannekoek

Frits Pannekoek is an associate professor of heritage studies, director
of information resources at the University of Calgary, and the author of
A Snug Little Flock: The Social Origins of the Riel Resistance of


I knew the Old Man, as Joe Crowshoe was respectfully known, for a very short time and am privileged to have talked to both him and his son, Reggie Crowshoe, Peigan Chief. Joe was, like his son is today, both a spiritual and cultural leader of his people. It is too bad that the book could not include a CD of the interviews. When reading the text, the result of over 20 hours of interviews, you can hear the cadence of Old Joe’s voice as well as that of his wife, Josephine. Their humour, zest for life, and great humanity come through again and again. The book is divided into nine parts, each of which is a key interview. The first was in 1992 on Head Smashed In and the last in 1998 as the Old Man was reaching the end of his life. The interviews are each shaped by storytelling wisdoms. While the bulk of the interviews are with Old Joe and Josephine, some of the chapters are fleshed out with insights provided by his son. The book is also enriched with dozens of photographs.


The texts bring life to many of the issues facing Aboriginal peoples in southern Alberta, and all of Western Canada: the residential school issue, the limitations of the reserves, and the broken treaties. But the overlying cultural richness and the real concern, not only of cultural preservation but of sharing that culture with the “white” folks, is found in page after page. There are times when one feels that they are intruding in intimate and personal conversations, particularly when the Old Man talks about the importance of the Thunder Medicine Pipe bundle or the Sun dances. While the stories of the old ways will enchant, so will the Old Man’s coming to term with the modern world. His adventures in Mongolia, where he erected his tipi, provide a fresh perspective on modern travel and its meaning. What is missing is the return of Mongolian elders who erected yurts with Joe’s help on the plains near the Pikanii reserve. The book is a privilege to read and a greater privilege to own.


Ross, Michael, interviewing Joe Crowshoe Sr., “Weasel Tail: Stories Told by Joe Crowshoe Sr. (Ááphosoy'yiis), a Peigan-Blackfoot Elder.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 20, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/28398.