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This rich, awkward and immediate book is one of the best portraits yet written by an outsider of the surviving Native American character and way of life in contrast and confrontation with ""the individualist ethic of the technological culture of North America."" Packed with information--ecological, legal, historical--and informed by personal friendship and admiration, it is a tribute to the handful of Cree Indians who have kept alive much of their traditional, spiritual, hunting culture--serenely incorporating rifles, outboard motors and bush planes--in the wilderness of northern Quebec. Now it is threatened with extinction by the economic and nationalistic ambitions of French Canada which wants to build the multimillion--dollar James Bay Hydroelectric Power Project; this would flood the land and destroy the animal habitats on which the Indian way of life depends. Journalist Richardson, who made two films about the Cree (Job's Garden and Cree Hunters of the Mistassini), was permitted to witness and share the hunters' season ""in the bush,"" and came away moved and impressed by the beauty, the thrift, the great uncomplaining effort of this way of life so different from the disjointed, lethargic, often alcoholic existence in white-influenced settlements. He alternates his personal impressions--turning his own outsider's reactions to useful and honest account--with a vivid chronicle of the court battles and negotiation through which the Cree sought to defend their claim to the land. Much direct transcript is quoted, to fascinating effect. Richardson is an advocate, his position clear and compelling, but he does not oversimplify, and his portrait of two mutually alien cultures in collision is rich in ironies, sympathies, and prickly, human portraits from both sides of the fence.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1975
ISBN: 1603580042
Publisher: Knopf