Reviews

Tatsea

Patty Osborne

Tatsea and her husband Ikotsali, the main characters in Armin Wiebe’s book Tatsea, are searching for each other in the Canadian subarctic. Tatsea and Ikotsali are members of the Dogrib tribe who are separated when their village is raided by Cree from the south, and the novel is the story of their search for each other and their survival in a hostile climate. It is a pleasure to encounter such a strong female character as Tatsea—a smart and resourceful woman who definitely “paddles her own canoe” as she escapes from several captors and even befriends some white traders. For his part, Ikotsali is left with their still-nursing baby, whom he manages to keep alive while he travels in search of his wife. I was skeptical about this book because it’s a First Nations story told by a white guy, but I liked it enough to lend it to one of my skeptical friends and she liked it too. An added bonus is the glossary at the back, where one can find out how to say “feed the baby” (bebia yewaidi) and “don’t talk” (gondi ile) in Dogrib.

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