Women’s Press
Canada’s leading academic feminist publisher
Canada’s leading academic feminist publisher

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120 pages
6 x 9 inches
February 2016
Print ISBN: 9780889615762


Now in its second edition, this groundbreaking work of literary and cultural criticism analyzes representations of Indigenous women in Canadian literature. By deconstructing stereotypical images of the “Indian princess” and “easy squaw,” Janice Acoose calls attention to the racist and sexist depictions of Indigenous women in popular literature. Blending personal narrative and literary criticism, this revised edition draws a strong connection between the persistent negative cultural attitudes fostered by those stereotypical representations and the missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada.

Acoose decolonizes written English by interweaving her own story with reflections on the self-determination of her female ancestors and by highlighting influential Indigenous female writers who have resisted cultural stereotypes and reclaimed the literary field as their own. This important text urges both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to move beyond words to challenge the harmful attitudes that condone violence against Indigenous women.

Thoroughly updated and featuring new photographs, questions for critical thought, and a discussion of Indigenous women’s literary voices that have emerged in the past twenty years, the second edition of Iskwewak is an invaluable resource for students and teachers of Indigenous studies, women’s studies, and literature.

Related Titles

Table of Contents



CHAPTER ONE: Iskwewak Kah’ Ki Yaw Ni Wahkomakanak: Re-membering Being to Signifying Female Relations

CHAPTER TWO: Literature, Stereotypes, and Cultural Attitudes

CHAPTER THREE: Keeping the Fire: Iskwewak Kah’ Ki Yaw Ni Wahkomakanak

CHAPTER FOUR: Stereotypes and Dis-membered Relations

CHAPTER FIVE: Maria Campbell’s Halfbreed:
A Politicized Text for Re-membering Being

CHAPTER SIX: Re-calling Signifying Female Relations to Transform Being

Questions to Promote Critical Conversations


Selected Bibliography

Copyright Acknowledgements

Janice Acoose

Janice Acoose holds a PhD from the University of Saskatchewan and is a Sessional Lecturer with the Northern Teacher Education Program, an activist-educator, and an internationally recognized Indigenous literary critic, writer, researcher, and consultant. Her roots stem from the Sakimay First Nation and the Marival Métis community.

Iskwewak-Kah'Ki Yan Ni Nahkomakanak, Iskwewak Kah' Ki Yaw Ni Wahkomakanak, Second Edition


"In Iskwewak, Acoose lays down a moral and ethical base from which decolonial inquiry emerges. By putting Indigenous women in the center of analysis, Acoose peels off the mask of dominant literature, exposing the racialized sexism, sexualized racism, and the legacy of violent settler anxiety with the marginalized, exoticized, fetishized, and cannibalized construction of the Indian ‘squaw’ and ‘princess.’ Acoose points the way to the path of decolonization and resurgence, positioning Iskwewak as a pivotal work in the study and literature of Indigenous decolonization—in Canada, in North America, and beyond the nation-state."
—  Margo Tamez, MFA, PhD, Indigenous Studies / Community, Culture and Global Studies, University of British Columbia

"Apii Iskwewak Janice Acoose o'gii izhibii'aan gakina Manodookwewag gichi'apiitenimaad gaye waabanda'inang memwech igo ezhi-inawemaadiyang. Epiichi maada'oozhinang ezhi-aanikanootang gaa ezhiwebag gaye kwe-maadiziwaad nandominang ji-bwaajigeying, ji-debweyendamoying, ji-aanjitomang. In writing Iskwewak, Janice Acoose offers respect to the spirit of all women, showing us precisely how we are all related. By sharing her interpretation of history and the lives of women, she invites us to dream, to believe, to change."
—  Margaret Noodin, MFA, PhD, English and American Indian Studies, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

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