Black Prairie Archives: An Anthology

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Item#: 9781771123747
Author Vernon, Karina
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The Black Prairie Archives: An Anthology recovers a new regional archive of “black prairie” literature, and includes writing that ranges from work by nineteenth-century black fur traders and pioneers, all of it published here for the first time, to contemporary writing of the twenty-first century. 

This anthology establishes a new black prairie literary tradition and transforms inherited understandings of what prairie literature looks and sounds like. It collects varied and unique work by writers who were both conscious and unconscious of themselves as black writers or as “prairie” people. Their letters, recipes, oral literature, autobiographies, rap, and poetry- provide vivid glimpses into the reality of their lived experiences and give meaning to them.

The book includes introductory notes for each writer in non-specialist language, and notes to assist readers in their engagement with the literature. This archive and its supporting text offer new scholarly and pedagogical possibilities by expanding the nation’s and the region’s archives. They enrich our understanding of black Canada by bringing to light the prairies' black histories, cultures, and presences.

Short Description
A selection of writing from black prairie authors, ranging from never-before published work by nineteenth-century black fur traders and pioneers, to contemporary writing of the twenty-first century. It establishes a new black prairie literary tradition while transforming inherited understandings of what prairie literature looks and sounds like.

Table of Contents


Daniel T. Williams [date unknown –1880]

“Notebook 1872–1875.” Letter to Hudson’s Bay Company Factor, George Kennedy, April 12, 1873

Dr. Alfred Schmitz Shadd [1870–1915]

“To the Electorate of the District of Kinistino,” 1905 Letters to The Melfort Moon

Mildred Lewis Ware [1871–1905]

Three Letters

William Sylvester Alpheus Beal [1874–1968]

from Memoir of the Swan River Valley, Manitoba
3 Glass–plate photographs

Alice Ethel Lewis [1886–1960]

“In Loving Memory of Alberta”

Jefferson Davis Edwards [1888–1979]

“There Was a Cloud Over Amber Valley,” from The Window of Our Memories

John Bell Bowden [1888–1982]

“Always Be a Factor in the Community!”

Sylvester Long [1890–1932]

“My Trail Upward,” from Long Lance: The Autobiography of a Blackfoot Indian Chief
“Canoe Song”
“Death Song of Long Lance”

Rosa Shannon [c.1880–1931]

“We Gave Our Lives to This Part of the Country,” from The Window of Our Memories

Martha Edwards [1890–1977]

“That Is What Pioneers Had to Go Through,” from The Window of Our Memories

Amanda Janet (Nettie) Ware [1893–1989]

“John Ware”

E. A. Cobbs [dates unknown]

“This Bias Was Good, for It Caused the Black People to Fight”

Ellis Hooks [1907–1979]

“The Way I Felt, I Wanted to Plead Guilty: I Wanted the World to Know,” from the Provincial Archives of Alberta Oral History Project

Luther Gerard [1914–2004]

“Community Spirit”

Lloyd Mayes [1916–1972?]

“Homebrew,” from North of the Gully

Goldie Gordon [dates unknown]

“Even the Bad Was Good,” from North of the Gully

Gwen Hooks [1918–]

from The Keystone Legacy: Recollections of a Black Settler

Willa R. Dallard [1898–1988]

“Memories of My Father: The Late Willis Bowen of Amber Valley”

Woody Strode [1914–1994]

“Mixed Breed”
“A Hero in Dogtown”

Clinton Murphy [1926–2004]

“Ode to the Amber Valley Baseball Team”

Fil Fraser [1932–]

from Alberta’s Camelot: Culture & the Arts in the Lougheed Years

Claire Harris [1937–]

"Backstage at the Glenbow Museum, Calgary,” from She

Addena Sumter–Freitag [1944–]

from Stay Black & Die

Linus Tongwo Asong [1947–2012]

from No Way to Die

Archie Crail [1948–]

“An Election”

Nigel Darbasie [1950–]

“Our Subdivision
“Pan Man”
“New Terra”

Tololwa M. Mollel [1952–]

”Feasting on Words”
The Orphan Boy

F. B. André [1955–]

“Is There Someone You Can Call?”

Cheryl Foggo [1956–]

“The Kind of Black People That We Are,” from Pourin’ Down Rain
from John Ware Reimagined

Margaret Robinson–Gudmundson [1957–]

“The Severance”

George Bwanika Seremba [1958–]

from Come Good Rain

Suzette Mayr [1967–]

”His Own Ending," from Monoceros
“I Am the Architect of My Life,” from Dr. Edith Vane and the Hares of Crawley Hall

Minister Faust [1969–]

from The Coyote Kings of the Space–Age Bachelor Pad
from The Alchemists of Kush

Troy Burle Bailey [c.1960s–]

from The Pierre Bonga Loops

Sheila Addiscott [1965–]


Dawn Carter [1968–]

A Monumental Love”
“Get into My Car”

Bertrand Bickersteth [1969–]

“I Look at My Hand”
“What We Used to Call It”
“We, Too”

Deanna Bowen [1969–]

“sum of the parts: what can be named”

Valerie Mason–John [1969–]

from Borrowed Body

Wakefield Brewster [1973–]

“In Short”

Ian Samuels [1975–]

from The Ubiquitous Big

Various writers

from Black Pioneer Centennial: A Little Taste of Soul (2005)

Kaie Kellough [1975–]

“boy hood dub II”
“night gallery”
from Creole Continuum
from Accordéon

Esi Edugyan [1977–]

“Encountering Aster,” from The Second Life of Samuel Tyne
from Half Blood Blues

Nehal El Hadi [1978–]

“La Puerta”

Nestor Wynrush (Elliott Walsh) [1978–]

“Winnipeg South Blues”
“Ole Mine Town”

Kevan Anthony Cameron (“Scruffmouth”) [1979–]

"I Am a Claim"

Lisa Codrington [1982–]

“The Red Woman”

Michelle Jean–Paul [1985–]

“Learning to Love Me”

Ahmed Ali (“Knowmadic”) [1984–]

“Child Soldier”

Titilope Sonuga [1985–]

from Down to Earth

Marika Schwandt [1985?–]

“Mulatto Nation”

Cadence Weapon (Rollie Pemberton) [1986–]

“Oliver Square”
“House Music”
”How Black?”

Khodi Dill [1987–]

“Ghost of Billie Holiday”

Young Kidd (Frankie Fontaine) [1988–]

“Wonderful Winnipeg”

Hot Dogg (Mijok Lang [birth date unknown]

“Letter to God”

Miranda Martini [1990–]

“The Drinking Gourd: Three Tales”

Review Quotes
Karina Vernon’s anthology, The Black Prairie Archives, is readable, engaging, lively, polyphonic, political and literary, and simply impossible to reduce to simple periodization or even to a set of aesthetic values