The Chief Mistahimaskwa
As the saying goes, to the victor goes the spoils and err... the stories. This has been the narrative of western civilisation. Our history books are distorted with fanciful tales of the victor, tales that magnifies their exploits and obscure their questionable deeds. There are not a lot of voices from the point of view of the vanquished. The few voices that exist are faint as they are being drowned out by the mainstream stories. However, seeing a graphic novel that tries to tell a tale from an alternative view is one of the reasons why I decided to pick up The Chief Mistahimaskwa, a middle-grade YA historical-based adventure story.

The Chief Mistahimaskwa is about Sarah,  a girl who gets sucked into a book and finds herself looking into the Saskatchewan Plains of 1832 where she sees the life of a young boy who is learning the ways of his people (the Cree) and would later become the chief. This story is based on what happened to the Cree during an era when the Europeans are taking over the native lands of the Cree, around the area that is now known as Canada.

What fascinates me about The Chief Mistahimaskwa is that though it is an historical-based fictional tale, it shows the sensibilities and perspectives of the Cree in a colourless tone.  The main spine of the tale is about Mistahimaskwa, who is also known as Big Bear, as he tries to helps his people survive and navigate the new world that is ushered in with the advent of the Europeans. The Chief leads his people through famine, diseases and is reported to be the last chief to sign a treaty with the Europeans. Though he meets with difficult opposition within and without, he tries to steer his people away from bloodshed that is inevitable as they try to fight with the invaders.

 The Chief Mistahimaskwa


 The Chief Mistahimaskwa

The Chief Mistahimaskwa is a delightful graphic novel with a straight-forward historically based tale on one of the main players of Cree during 1800s. The art is simple and the bright colours invite us into the story. The dialogue is great in parts and conveys enough charm for us to progress with the tale . This is a book reluctant reads can get into with ease. The language is direct while complex narratives and concepts are ditched for a simple tale that can be grasped by all and sundry.

Many thanks to Portage & Main Press for review copy.

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