The Desperate People
Farley Mowat: The Desperate People (New York: Little Brown, 1959)
Reading Mowat’s People of the Deer really made me want to find a copy of The Desperate People. There is something more raw and more urgent about Mowat’s description of the Ihalmiut, their decline and near distraction amidst the forces of cultural change and governmental ignorance and indifference. There is always something about a survivor’s story that captures my attention and I find myself hoping that there will be survivors at the end of the book and that the survivors will discover new energy and hope of a revival.
The story of these people simply does not have a happy ending. The book is not a happy book.
It is, however, an important book because it tells a story that might not have otherwise been told. As we seek reconciliation in our relationships with indigenous people, it is critical that we open ourselves to hearing more than just part of the story. The story of people on this continent is an ancient story with many different twists and turns. To think that our generation is the only one to have witnessed the power and beauty of the land is to embrace a falsehood.
Im grateful to Mowat for this book despite the fact that it was a very difficult book to read - a story I wish was not as true as it is.