"An unforgettable work of art."—The National Post
Saul Indian Horse is dying. Tucked away in a hospice high above the clash and clang of a big city, he embarks on a marvellous journey of imagination back through the life he led as a northern Ojibway, with all its sorrows and joys.
With compassion and insight, author Richard Wagamese traces through his fictional characters the decline of a culture and a cultural way. For Saul, taken forcibly from the land and his family when he's sent to residential school, salvation comes for a while through his incredible gifts as a hockey player. But in the harsh realities of 1960s Canada, he battles obdurate racism and the spirit-destroying effects of cultural alienation and displacement.
Indian Horse unfolds against the bleak loveliness of northern Ontario, all rock, marsh, bog and cedar. Wagamese writes with a spare beauty, penetrating the heart of a remarkable Ojibway man. Drawing on his great-grandfather's mystical gift of vision, Saul Indian Horse comes to recognize the influence of everyday magic on his own life. In this wise and moving novel, Richard Wagamese shares that gift of magic with readers as well.
At the beginning of this haunting and masterful novel from the late Wagamese (1955 2017), eight-year-old Saul Indian Horse is alone, having been abandoned in a blizzard in rural Ontario in 1961. He finds himself in this situation after his parents set off to bury his brother and are never seen again. Saul is left alone with his grandmother; the two then flee the family's ancestral home on Gods Lake to Minaki, trying to escape the cold. After his grandmother succumbs to the cold, Saul is sent to St. Jerome's, a Catholic boarding school run to forcefully assimilate indigenous children and "remove the Indian" from them. While his classmates succumb to disease, abuse, and suicide, Saul escapes when his natural talent for hockey lands him a spot on a local Ojibway team in 1966. Saul's career progresses from unofficial tournaments at makeshift hockey rinks to the minor league in Toronto. However, it stalls after his skills on the ice attract rage from whites "in the black heart of northern Ontario in the 1960s." Denied acceptance in the world of his choice, Saul is forced to reckon with the trauma of his upbringing and carve out a place for himself. In spare, poetic language, Wagamese wrestles with trauma and its fallout, and charts the long, lonely walk to survival.
Indian Horse. By Richard Wagamese
Today on finishing this book, I believed I understood why John A MacDonald's statue would be demanded being taken down as with others like Duncan Campbell Scott. If not removed in reconciliation,, statues of honouring the Native survivors and victims must be raised within the domains of the effigies of those European nation builders whose poisoned shadows have extended across national consciousness for centuries. As long as their shadows remain hidden, we live in a land of Amnesia, apartheid America. Thank you Mr. Wagamese, you have scorched those shadows with the torch of memory.
What an amazing auther. Though hockey isn’t in my blood, I could feel the intense love the main character had. It felt alive...
A Canadian Classic
This is the underlining story of our true national narrative as a collective. Incredibly powerful and eye-opening to those who have been wrongfully robbed of the necessity of educating our youth about the true history of our country. Wagamese is an artist and his words take flight. Phenomenal read - strongly suggest!