Monday, September 10, 2007


This comment, by Marlene Atleo, was submitted in response to Beverly Slapin's review, posted on Tuesday, Sept. 4th. I'm posting it here, for those interested in learning more about the book and movie. Marlene is an assistant professor at the University of Manitoba. She is among the women with whom I worked on the extensive review essay of Ann Rinaldi's shamefully erroneous story, My Heart is on the Ground. Marlene is of the Ahousaht First Nation, Nuu-chah-nulth, West Coast of Vancouver Island. She was a contributor to A Broken Flute: The Native Experience in Books for Children. A copy of A Broken Flute ought to be on the references shelf in every library, public/private/school/university.


Don't forget the movie of the same name done by Award winning Canadian Director David Duke, featuring the Ahousaht First Nation, our Granny Mary and Nan Margaret and a cast of well as a couple of HOllywood types....made for Christmas 1974 I think...and now available on Video was a major hit...the book is used extensively in schools on the West Coast of Vancouver Island. Our community got a power generating plant from General Electric the sponsor of the film in lieu of payment for the location was the introduction of power for the community until the hydro cables was laid a few years later.
The making of the movie with the crew in the village reminds me of Ken Kesey's Sailor's Song movie shot in Alaska during the last days of the salmon was a little Felliniesque....partly because of the cash injection which resulted in consumption that changed the face of the community and partly because the cast partied with the community...
The author of Daughters of Copperwoman lurked in the background soaking up atmosphere....and most of the community ended up being extras.... so the video is like a home movie....

For some First Nations people living on the coast at that time it a controversial book....the background is such that the community in which the book was set refused to participate in the movie for a variety of reasons having to do with the main character....who I was very surprised wasn't dead because he knocked on my door during the shooting....he was officially involved in the background of another book....Error in Judgment by Dara Speck Culhane....who documented the activities of a doctor who "served" a remote community that was half aboriginal and half non-aboriginal....

as Bev points out....the book....rises above all of this...pointing to some more enduring qualities.....and is followed by her autobiography....Again Calls Owl 1983

-Mare Atleo

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