Neekna and Chemai


83 pages
ISBN 0-919441-13-0





Reviewed by Susan Anderson

Susan Anderson was a librarian with the Calgary Public Library.


Neekna and Chemai are two little girls, members of the Okanagan Indian tribe, growing up in the interior of B.C. before the arrival of the white man. Four chapters, entitled Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall describe how the tribe survives in the “big circle” of time. Through anecdotes and legends releated by Jupa, an ancient woman, the philosophy of living in harmony with the Great Spirit is explained.

A great deal of information is infused into this 43-page volume. The facts themselves are valuable, but the format is awkward. Why limit the length so drastically and provide no index or reading list? Why not expand the narrative into a genuine work of fiction? The text is repetitive and stilted and needs grammatical sorting-out in a few places. The 18 full-page ink drawings by Ken Edwards salvage an otherwise rather banal effort. One hopes the other titles — original legends — in the We Are The People series are more exciting.



Armstrong, Jeannette, “Neekna and Chemai,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 27, 2024,