An Ojibway Indian, Pelletier grew up on a remote Canadian reservation and migrated to Toronto where he became in turn a...

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NO FOREIGN LAND: The Biography of a Great Lakes Indian

An Ojibway Indian, Pelletier grew up on a remote Canadian reservation and migrated to Toronto where he became in turn a successful businessman and an expert in the ""Indian business."" His life, uneasily straddling two cultures, two value systems, has been an ongoing exploration of what it means to be quasi-assimilated and partly reconciled to the white man's norms and expectations. Pelletier doesn't speak in the strident, angry tones of Red Power crusaders; he hurls few accusations. But his insider-outsider perspectives on the nominally benevolent institutions of white North Americans -- their schools, churches and businessmen's associations -- are disturbing and affecting. Whites, he feels, are at war with their environment; the impulse to dominate and subjugate defines their relationship to the earth, just as the cash nexus defines their importance and worth to their neighbors. Unlike Indians who are merely poor, whites are impoverished -- they have lost organic communities and attempt now to get along with organizations and systems. Pelletier's biography is essentially the story of how he gradually emancipated himself from the white man's strictures, attitudes and definitions -- in the course of which he gave up the ""political trip"" of being a ""spokesman"" for his people and thereby gave up ""the white view of the Indian community as a problem."" This renunciation leaves him with a kind quietism which some will find complacent and unsatisfactory -- a ""go with the flow"" philosophy of life, that in effect leaves the exercise of power to the self-seeking and the unscrupulous. Nonetheless he is a sensitive recorder of his sojourn in two worlds and the realization that to succeed by white standards is to fail by Indian standards makes Pelletier's dual vision a very poignant one.

Pub Date: Jan. 25, 1973

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1973