The rights of indigenous peoples, especially Native Americans and First Nation communities in Canada, have been a recent feature in the news. Whether it’s pipeline protests, residential boarding schools, or stolen land – these painful stories rarely feature the voices and perspectives of the people at the center of them.
That’s not the case in Paying the Land, a new book by award-winning graphic journalist Joe Sacco. Told primarily through interviews with leaders and elders of the Dene Nation of the Canadian Northwest Territory, Paying the Land is a gorgeously-illustrated exploration into the intersection of indigenous culture, the mining industry, and land ownership.
Sacco’s use of comics as a graphic medium gives the reader a deeper understanding the issues at hand because we are able to actually see the breathtaking landscape, the dog sleds, the building of moose-skin boats and also the gut-wrenching cultural and environmental loss at the hand of colonial development.
If you are seeking a better understanding of the issues facing indigenous communities both historically and today, this book is an excellent choice.