The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America

by Thomas King. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2013, pp. 288 (Originally published in 2012 by Doubleday, Canada)

Reviewed by María José Belmonte Sánchez, University of Helsinki

The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King presents a unique historical, legal and social analysis of the Native peoples of North America. The book considers the relations between Natives and non-Natives from the early nineteenth century until present day with a special focus on events in the United States and Canada.

King uses a unique narrative discourse and storytelling technique which does not follow a standard chronological structure. The book is written in a readable and unpretentious style that engages the reader and brings historical events alive. King does not look for a remedy to all the injustices suffered by Natives, but instead remains in a quasi-neutral narrative position while taking the reader by hand through history. One interesting feature of the book is the inclusion of King’s wife Helen as a character and commentator. Helen’s role is to provide additional observations on certain events mentioned in the text.

There are a few weaknesses in the book. King sometimes provides copious amounts of dates and events in list format. This technique can be distracting and stops the narrative momentum of the text. More importantly, I would have preferred more critical commentary in the volume.

However, these are minor criticisms. The Inconvenient Indian stands as an informative and relevant book that provides a solid overview of Native peoples’ history as well as a great read. King’s writing style brings the book alive, with its simplicity and humor. Overall, The Inconvenient Indian is a joy to read and is recommended for all.