Big Bear

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Penguin Canada, 2008 - Biography & Autobiography - 222 pages
3 Reviews
Big Bear (1825–1888) was a Plains Cree chief in Saskatchewan at a time when aboriginals were confronted with the disappearance of the buffalo and waves of European settlers that seemed destined to destroy the Indian way of life. In 1876 he refused to sign Treaty No. 6, until 1882, when his people were starving. Big Bear advocated negotiation over violence, but when the federal government refused to negotiate with aboriginal leaders, some of his followers killed 9 people at Frog Lake in 1885. Big Bear himself was arrested and imprisoned. Rudy Wiebe, author of a Governor General's Award–winning novel about Big Bear, revisits the life of the eloquent statesman, one of Canada's most important aboriginal leaders.

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User Review  - jbealy - LibraryThing

This should be required reading for all Canadians interested in the true history of the "settling" of Canada, especially since it is not the story taught in schools. As sad a story as it is, we could learn a lot about ethical behaviour from Big Bear. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - funfunyay - LibraryThing

This past summer, I visited Fort Battleford, Saskatchewan, one of the sites mentioned in this book. Nearly all the books in the gift shop were about the Native nations involved in the Northwest ... Read full review

Contents

Plains Cree Boy
7
Come Talk to Us
43
The Rope of Treaty Six
73
Copyright

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About the author (2008)

A firm belief in the redemptive possibilities of history dominates Rudy Wiebe's fiction. His characters search for community, for a spiritual collective informed and strengthened by historical consciousness. This attempt to unite the present and the past stems from Wiebe's Mennonite religious background. Central to the Mennonite belief is the rejection of loyalty to contemporary and worldly government; personal commitment belongs, instead, to the religious community, with its hard-earned historical heritage as a nonconformist movement. Wiebe was born in a northern Saskatchewan farming community; in 1947 the family moved to Alberta, and he completed his education at the University of Alberta, where he teaches. Wiebe's first novel, Peace Shall Destroy Many (1962), addresses pacifism, a belief central to Mennonites. The novel's hero faces a moral quandary when forced to choose between religious convictions and Canadian nationalistic fervor during World War II. While The Blue Mountains of China (1970) records Mennonite history, The Temptations of Big Bear (1973) examines the destruction of Indian culture in white Canada, and The Scorched-Wood People (1977) takes up the plight of the Metis---those with mixed blood; all three novels focus on minorities who must struggle to maintain their sense of community. Ideas repugnant to the Mennonite sensibility, violence and self-destruction, figure in The Mad Trapper (1980), which recounts the hunt for a man whose isolation has driven him into madness. In 1980 Wiebe's short stories were collected in The Angel of the Tar Sands and Other Stories. Stylistically, Wiebe gives little ground to the reader, for his fiction is characterized by difficult dialects, a web of details, and a dense style.

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