Saul Indian Horse is an alcoholic Ojibway man who finds himself the reluctant resident of an alcohol treatment centre after his latest binge. To come to peace with himself, he must tell his story. Richard Wagamese takes readers on the often difficult journey through Saul's life, from his painful forced separation from his family and land when he's sent to a residential school to the brief salvation he finds in playing hockey. The novel is an unflinching portrayal of the harsh reality of life in 1960s Canada, where racism reigns and Saul's spirit is destroyed by the alienating effects of cultural displacement.
Indian Horse was a finalist in Canada Reads 2013, when it was defended by Carol Huynh.
My name is Saul Indian Horse. I am the son of Mary Mandamin and John Indian Horse. My grandfather was called Solomon so my name is the diminutive of his. My people are from the Fish Clan of the northern Ojibway, the Anishinabeg, we call ourselves. We made our home in the territories along the Winnipeg River, where the river opens wide before crossing into Manitoba after it leaves Lake of the Woods and the rugged spine of northern Ontario. They say that our cheekbones are cut from those granite ridges that rise above our homeland. They say that the deep brown of our eyes seeped out of the fecund earth that surrounds the lakes and marshes. The Old Ones say that our long straight hair comes from the waving grasses that thatch the edges of bays. Our feet and hands are broad and flat and strong, like the paws of a bear. Our ancestors learned to travel easily through territories that the Zhaunagush, the white man, later feared and sought our help to navigate. Our talk rolls and tumbles like the rivers that served as our roads. Our legends tell of how we emerged from the womb of our Mother the Earth; Aki is the name we have for her. We sprang forth intact, with Aki's heartbeat thrumming in our ears, prepared to become her stewards and protectors.When I was born our people still talked this way. We had not yet stepped beyond the influence of our legends. That was a border my generation crossed, and we pine for a return that has never come to be.
From Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese ©2012. Published by Douglas & McIntyre.