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Indigenous New Media

Introduction

Graphic novels are an area of collections that has been growing in both size and importance in academic libraries over the past decade. Through their innovative blending of art and text, graphic novels and comics push at the boundaries of both these mediums, creating new media forms that are critical and engaging.

Xwi7xwa has a robust collection of graphic novels and comic books, which are written by, for, and about Indigenous people. Ranging from single issue comics to whole multi-book series, the graphic novel collection is as diverse in stories and voices as the rest of the library’s collection. It includes works of fiction, non-fiction, biography, comic strips, and comic books that combine text and artwork to tell their stories.

Featured Graphic Novels and Comics

Dakwäkãda Warriors in Sha Catcher

By Cole Pauls. 2017. 

A Southern Tutchone language revival comic book. To create this comic, Cole Pauls collaborated with two language preservers from his home community in Haines Junction, Yukon.

Ts’ür’i and Aghay are the Dakwäkãda Warriors protecting Nän from their nemesis Cyber Nà’į and Space Kwäday Dän. Flying in their spaceship, can they prevent the Sha being stolen from Cyber Nà’į and Space Kwäday Dän?!

See also Dakwäkãda Warriors II (2017)

The Ballad of Nancy April

By David Alexander Robertson. Illustrated by Scott B. Henderson. 2014.

When a mishap delays Jessie at the end of a school day, she takes a shortcut home. But the shortcut turns into an adventure, as Jessie is transported through time and space, to early 19th-century Newfoundland. There she meets Shawnadithit who, as the last surviving member of the Beothuk, has witnessed the end of a once-great people. Tales from Big Spirit is a unique six-book graphic novel series that delves into the stories of six great Indigenous heroes from Canadian history  some already well known and others who deserve to be.

A Blanket of Butterflies

By Richard Van Camp. Illustrated by Scott B. Henderson. 2015.

A Blanket of Butterflies explores the journey of Shinobu, a mysterious stranger who visits Fort Smith, Northwest Territories, to retrieve his family's samurai suit of armor and sword from the local museum. When he discovers that his grandfather's sword has been lost in a poker game to the man they call "Benny the Bank," he sets out to retrieve it with the help of a young boy, Sonny, and his grandmother. Together, they face Benny and his men, Torchy, Sfen and the giant known as Flinch, and come to an unexpected realization.

The 500 Years of Resistance Comic Book

By Gord Hill. 2010.

A powerful and historically accurate graphic portrayal of indigenous resistance to the European colonisation of the Americas, beginning with the Spanish invasion under Christopher Columbus and ending with the Six Nations land reclamation in Ontario in 2006. Gord Hill spent two years unearthing images and researching historical information to create the 500 Years of Resistance Comic Book, which presents the story of Aboriginal resistance in a far-reaching format.

Without Reservations

By Ricardo Caté. 2012.

Cartoonist Ricardo Caté describes Indian humor as the result of "us living in a dominant culture, and the funny part is that we so often fall short of fitting in." His cartoon column, Without Reservations, is a popular daily dose in the Santa Fe New Mexican. Actor Wes Studi says, "Caté's cartoons serve to remind us there is always a different point of view, or laughing at every day scenes of home life where Indian kids act just like their brethren of different races. Without Reservations is always thought-provoking whether it makes you laugh, smirk, or just enjoy the diversity of thought to be found in Indian Country."

Silent Enemy

Free Download.

Silent Enemy is a comic designed to provide education and awareness to youth about cancer. It was developed on request of a First Nations community and created in partnership with the First Nation Health Authority and CAREX, the carcinogen exposure research group.

War of the Blink

By Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas. 2017.

War of the Blink is the follow-up to RED: A Haida Manga – another inventive retelling of an ancient Haida tale. It recounts the story of a fisherman who suspects a party of raiders is descending upon his island home. When his warnings are not heeded, the man sets out to guard the village on his own, only to find himself caught up in a high-stakes game of kidnap and bluff. All this leads to a final showdown, in which one of the sides must blink first – and the villagers find a surprising way to save face and their home, and avoid bloodshed. War of the Blink is a timeless fable about the bravery it takes to choose peace over war.

UNeducation

By Jason EagleSpeaker. 2014.

Note: The UNcut version contains an extra chapter, "The Cycle". Adult supervision recommended.

The chilling chronicles of a Native family's government-sanctioned exploitation in the North American residential/boarding school systems. What began as a grassroots fundraiser, UNeducation, Vol 1: A Residential School Graphic Novel is now used in school curriculum, university syllabi, treatment and corrections centre programming, healing initiatives, government agencies, and educational trainings worldwide. Now available in ebook form for the first time.

Finding Graphic Novels and Comics

Browse the Shelves

At Xwi7xwa Library, our graphic novels and comics are in a special dedicated section. If you are interested in browsing our titles, stop by and have a look!

Search the Catalogue

Our graphic novels all share the subject heading First Nations--Graphic novels. Searching for this subject heading will produce a list of all of the titles in the graphic novel collection at Xwi7xwa.

Other useful keywords and phrases:

  • "Comics" 
  • "Indigenous comics"
  • "Comic books, strips, etc."
  • "Graphic narratives"
  • "Narrative art"
  • "Sequential art"
  • "Alternative history"

Indigenous Graphic Novel Authors and Artists

There is a growing number of Indigenous graphic novel authors and artists. Here are some whose works you can find at Xwi7xwa Library:

  • Gord Hill
  • Patti LaBoucane-Benson
  • Cynthia Leitich Smith
  • David Alexander Robertson
  • Arigon Starr
  • Theodore Tso
  • Richard Van Camp

Find their works on the UBC Library Catalogue by searching "Author name includes".

Selected Resources