Book Review: Living on the Land

By Michelle Nieviadomy

From the Catalyst, Summer 2017

Living on the Land: Indigenous Women’s Understanding of Place
Edited by Nathalie Kermoal and Isabel Altamirano-Jiménez
Athabasca University Press, 2016

Reviewed by Michelle Nieviadomy

Living on the Land is a beautiful and complex collection of perspective, story, knowledge, and wisdom. This book captures the traditional role, depth, and power of the Indigenous women from the Mohawk, Cree, Naskapi, Mayangna, Métis, and Inuit peoples. Not all Indigenous women come from the same narrative. And this book importantly gives each Indigenous woman a distinct voice on where she originates. Her story is meaningful as it is a bridge of knowledge from the ancestral way of being to the modern world in which she lives.

Each chapter casts imagination by giving readers a glimpse of each storyteller’s unique culture, teachings, understanding, and worldview even in the midst of colonization. Her way of being and existence still has a place, despite her struggle particularly in a “patriarchal colonial environment.”

This book allows the reader insight in understanding the matrilineal culture of Indigenous women and their role of strength in their families and communities. We can appreciate the depiction of Indigenous women as hunters, guardians of family relationships, knowledge keepers, decision makers, fact finders, resource managers, stewards of the land, healers, and storytellers. The inspiration found in each story, each chapter, and each voice is one of courage, determination, and resiliency. The women who contributed to this book give the reader a priceless insight. While it requires careful reading, it is good platform in which Indigenous women’s voices can be heard.

As a nehiyaw iskwew (Cree woman) myself, I would have wanted to offer tobacco for the profound knowledge passed on through this book.

  • Michelle Nieviadomy

    Michelle Nieviadomy works at the Edmonton Native Healing Centre. She was a member of the Christian Reformed Church's delegation to the COP21 climate talks in Paris.

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