“A Canadian Cree works to reclaim Native peoples’ traditional cultures and birthright lands.

In this follow-up to his standout first memoir Mamaskatch (2019), McLeod opens with an imagined reconstruction of the first encounter between Cree and White interlopers, one characterized by mutual misunderstanding. The White invaders’ potent combination of religion and firearms won out. In the present, McLeod writes of his interactions with two worlds. Born in Alberta but at a remove from Cree culture, the author has devoted much time to learning their language and traditions as well as those of other Canadian First Nations: “Was I trying to get back to my roots, or was it simply more escapism, a distraction to avoid my predicament—a collapsed and diminishing family, sexual confusion, an uncertain future, a constant fear of falling into a downward spiral and losing everything?” He answered his searching question with a yearslong flurry of activism and activity. A former teacher with extensive training in French and a natural politician, McLeod quickly fell into a succession of roles involving the negotiation and renegotiation of treaties. Particularly newsworthy are his investigations over a long period of Native children victimized by the residential school system, forcing a pro forma apology on the part of the Canadian government that acknowledged “that the existence of the schools was profoundly disrespectful of Aboriginal people.” Every such acknowledgment, every line of every treaty, came at the cost of considerable legal, linguistic, and cultural wrangling. At times, the weary author confesses to wanting to retreat to his quiet home on the shores of British Columbia and play piano. His memoir has its longueurs, but the narrative is spiked with moments of drama, as when he discovers hidden corruption between the lines of legal documents and decries the inauguration of a conservative government bent on undoing even the most tentative efforts at restitution. Sheds welcome light on little-known aspects of the interaction of Indigenous peoples with politically dominant outsiders.” – Kirkus

PEYAKOW will be publishing in the US from Milkweed Editions on August 10, 2021.

Darrel is represented by Carolyn Forde.