Date of this Version
Great Plains Quarterly Vol. 27, No. 1, Winter 2007, pp. 70-71.
Hidden in Plain Sight is a book with an unusual agenda: to discuss and publicize the many constructive, meaningful contributions that Aboriginal peoples have made to Canadian society. Aimed primarily at the general public, students, and Aboriginal people themselves, the book contains essays from treaty researchers, civil servants, lawyers, teachers, curators, artists, writers, undergraduate students, and academics. The book's impetus arose from its editors' frustration over the constant equation of Aboriginal people with pain, problems, and struggle. Widely absent from public discourse and academic writing, they felt, was attention to the strengths and capacity of Aboriginal peoples, their achievements in many fields of endeavor, and the signs of positive developments in recent years. As David Newhouse explains in his preface, the editors hoped to "add a new dimension to the picture of Aboriginal peoples, one that shows them to be industrious, meritorious, and accomplished," and by so doing to "help create a place of respect and dignity for Aboriginal peoples in Canada."
The body of the book is divided into seven sections of varying lengths: "Treaties," "Arts and Media," "Literature," "Justice," "Culture and Identity," "Sports," and "Military." With three of the largest sections concentrating on arts and culture, this area receives by far the greatest attention, constituting over half of the volume's forty-seven items. Scattered throughout the book are twenty-four short biographical profiles, most of them produced by the undergraduate students in editor Cora Voyageur's sociology class. While these are not always elegant pieces of writing, they are an interesting element and directly showcase Aboriginal talent, creativity, and industry.
In tone, content, style, and overall quality, this collection is, predictably, mixed. The articles also vary in their overall intent: some are clearly designed to provide overviews of an issue for the general public; others appear to be aimed more at an academic audience.· There is little content specifically on the Great Plains; rather, most articles attempt to cover most or all of Canada. Some individuals from the Great Plains are profiled, including academic and activist Harold Cardinal, artist Allen Sapp, linguist Freda Ahenakew, and architect Douglas Cardinal.