Post-colonial Literature for Children
Week 9 - Lecture 16
Rebuilding the
© La Trobe University, David Beagley 2005
Anderson, CC. (1997) Born to the “Troubles”: the Northern
Ireland conflict in the books of Joan Lingard and
Catherine Sefton. The Lion and the Unicorn. [online] 21(3):
387-401. Available: Project Muse
Search keywords: Metis, Cree, Dene, “First nations”
Includes many links on culture and history
Getting deeper
• Much of the representation in picture books is
informative and explanatory
• Emphasis on the immediate impact of images and
impressions; ideas are proposed
• Novels allow a deeper judgemental process to be built
and directed
• More authorial voice, more sequential and
consequential action, more gradual development and
discovery of clues and puzzle pieces, more
expression of complex issues and ideas, more
opportunities for using literary devices
In our studies …
The picture books emphasize immediate elements:
• Cultural markers
• Personal memories
• Direct impressions
• Comparisons of these
The novels develop:
• Complexities of character
• Options for choice by those characters
• Consequences
• Ambiguities and uncertainties
Bone Dance and The Beat of the Drum
• Stories based on loss, hurt and rejection
• Fractured families
• Public identity and expectations
• Acceptance of cultural heritage - belonging
• Heritage conflict the product of colonial experience
– the characters must rebuild their place in the postcolonial world
• The past must be recognized, accepted and then left
if the future is to be created.
Bone Dance and The Beat of the Drum
• Settings – rural c/w urban
– Rural – Indigenous, naturalistic, spiritual
– Urban – European, industrialised, mechanistic
• Love and grieving c/w hate and revenge
• Internal resolution c/w public declaration
• Embrace the past c/w reject the past
Bone Dance - Scaffolding
• Canadian people of mixed Native and European
ancestry – 100,000
• Cultural tradition based on a premise of First Nation
ancestry or adoption into that tradition
• European origins in French trappers and woodsmen
from 1600s onwards – couriers des bois, winterers
• Recognized as a distinct cultural group within the
First Nations, and in Canadian Constitution
• Centred in western “frontier” states, particularly
Bone Dance - Scaffolding
• Canada’s largest native group – 500,000
• Name is a French corruption of Cree term for “first
people” - the Cree refer to themselves as Ayisiniwok,
meaning “true men”, or Iyiniwok, Eenou, Iynu, or
Eeyou, meaning simply “the people”
• Majority of Metis are of Cree origin and are generally
regarded as Cree brethren
• Also known as Chippewa, Ojibwe
• Numerous in USA and Southern Canada – 200,000
Bone Dance - Scaffolding
• Lonny LaFreniere – French name – Metis background
through mother. Aware of background, moves
between the cultures readily
• Alexandra Sinclair – Assimilated into European
culture, only distant connection to Cree and Dene
culture through maternal grandfather
• Does the heritage of each hold the key to their
personal resolutions, or is it simply a vehicle to get
them to the end of their grieving
Bone Dance – Burial Mounds
• Date from the Middle Woodland period (c.300 BC –
900 AD)
• Were a communal cemetery, rather than a special
tomb for an individual
• Could be built and used over many years
• Were a focal point for
ceremonies and communal
• Even enemies were included
and respected
Bone Dance – Issues
• Does the heritage of each hold the key to their
personal resolutions, or is it simply a vehicle to get
them to the end of their grieving?
• Both Lonny and Alex are haunted by spirits and by he
death of a parent - is Brooks suggesting that
Aboriginals have insights into spirituality that
Europeans do not?
– Raven man
– Spirits out of the mound
• Where does anyone belong? Is it a specific place, or
with a specific person, or can we choose?

Post-colonial Literature for Children EDU32PLC Week 9