“An Honest, Genial and Kindly People” by Adrian K. Paton
“An Honest, Genial and Kindly People,” by Adrian K. Paton, is a walk into history with Indigenous people of the Saskatchewan area. The title of the book derives from a line in a journal written by Cecil Le Mesurier, who settled in southeast Saskatchewan, when he described the First Nations people. This description brings the reader into a history that is filled not with dates and times of events, but with stories of people and their lives.
Paton uses photographs taken of the First Nations people at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. In addition to collecting photographs, Paton also collected stories. The following tells the story of friction between the tribes over hunting territory:
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“The Cree were buffalo hunting when a party of Blackfoot appeared. They shot arrows at the huddled Cree who were traveling with women and children. An old Cree woman came to the chief and said, ‘We old women have made a plan. We are no longer of any use. Take the young women and children and by morning you will be far away.’ All night long the old women heaped the campfires with buffalo chips, and the glow of the fires told the Blackfoot scouts that the camp was inhabited. In the morning all the Blackfoot found were old women wrapped in blankets. They were slaughtered.” Paton added that he hoped the old women were clever and slipped away.
Using these images and stories that he’d heard from his Indigenous associates, Paton takes the reader on a journey through time. This book creates a connection for the reader to the First Nations people.
Elizabeth Fellerer works in Acquisitions at Billings Public Library.