I’d like to start by stating that I’m not from the Blackfeet tribe so this is not a true own voices review. However, as the effects of settler colonialism permeate the lives of tribes all across Turtle Island, as an Ojibwe woman I’ll relate to this story more than a non-Indigenous reader.
In The Only Good Indians by Blackfeet author Stephen Graham Jones we see the effects of intergenerational trauma, substance abuse & racism while also seeing the resilience of familial/friendship bonds, community ties and traditional ceremonies.
I’m a huge horror movie fan and Jones has written a novel that managed to give me a horror movie experience. I was often engrossed, sometimes repulsed and steadily anxious with anticipation. Numerous times I thought I knew where the plot was going and then would be hit with a huge, “oh, never mind!”
The depictions of rez life really made this a welcoming read amidst all of the horror. I saw my cousins in these men: imperfect, loyal & in a society that won’t let them be and has separated them from their tribal ways (which we we come to find out leads to huge repercussions.) If you’re neech & have been to a lot of sweats like I have, you’re going to want to yell at certain characters.
PS: everyone is entitled to their own opinion but I was confused at the amount of yt reviewers who said they couldn’t connect to certain elements & it felt like they weren’t the target audience so they DNF’d this & I mean….
I kept wondering what exactly they want from Indigenous authors. This book doesn’t isolate yt readers by any means. I just think that a lot of yt
reviewers have unfair preconceptions of what Indigenous authored books & their reading experience should be.
I couldn’t help but think of a certain scene in TOGI when Denorah is told to draw an NDN ledger scene in class that depicts a fave holiday, so she drew a basketball trip, a sport that many rez kids have clung to as a beacon of hope, and the teacher is disappointed and remarks while grading, “Is this really Indian, D? Shouldn’t you do something to honor your heritage?”
This reminds me of what I’ve seen in this community. It’s startling.
My Youtube video on TOGI will be up tomorrow!