Category: Book
By (author): Abel, Jordan
Subject:  BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Native Americans
  NON-FICTION / Canadian
  SOCIAL SCIENCE / Discrimination & Race Relations
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
Published: April 2020
Format: Book-hardcover
Pages: 288
Size: 8.62in x 7.25in
Our Price:
$ 32.95
Available to order

Additional Notes

From The Publisher*From Griffin Poetry Prize winner Jordan Abel comes a groundbreaking and emotionally devastating autobiographical meditation on the complicated legacies that Canada's reservation school system has cast on his grandparents', his parents' and his own generation.

NISHGA is a deeply personal and autobiographical book that attempts to address the complications of contemporary Indigenous existence. As a Nisga'a writer, Jordan Abel often finds himself in a position where he is asked to explain his relationship to Nisga'a language, Nisga'a community, and Nisga'a cultural knowledge. However, as an intergenerational survivor of residential school--both of his grandparents attended the same residential school in Chilliwack, British Columbia--his relationship to his own Indigenous identity is complicated to say the least.

NISHGA explores those complications and is invested in understanding how the colonial violence originating at the Coqualeetza Indian Residential School impacted his grandparents' generation, then his father's generation, and ultimately his own. The project is rooted in a desire to illuminate the realities of intergenerational survivors of residential school, but sheds light on Indigenous experiences that may not seem to be immediately (or inherently) Indigenous.

Drawing on autobiography, a series of interconnected documents (including pieces of memoir, transcriptions of talks, and photography), NISHGA is a book about confronting difficult truths and it is about how both Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples engage with a history of colonial violence that is quite often rendered invisible.
Review Quote*"With NISHGA, Jordan Abel has reinvented the memoir, incorporating personal anecdotes, archival footage, legal documentation, photos and concrete poetry to create an unforgettable portrait of an Indigenous artist trying to find his place in a world that insists Indigeneity can only ever be the things that he is not. Abel deftly shows us the devastating impact this gate-keeping has had on those who, through no decisions of their own, have been ripped from our communities and forced to claw their way back home, or to a semblance of home, often unassisted. This is a brave, vulnerable, brilliant work that will change the face of nonfiction, as well as the conversations around what constitutes Indigenous identity. It's a work I will return to again and again."  -Alicia Elliott, author of A Mind Spread Out on the Ground
"In NISHGA, Jordan Abel puts to use the documentary impulse that has already established him as an artist of inimitable methodological flair. By way of a mixture of testimonial vignettes, recordings of academic talks, found text/art, and visual art/concrete poetry, Abel sculpts a narrative of dislocation and self-examination that pressurizes received notions of "Canada" and "history" and "art" and "literature" and "belonging" and "forgiveness." Yes, it is a book of that magnitude, of that enormity and power. By its Afterword, NISHGA adds up to a work of personal and national reckoning that is by turns heartbreaking and scathing." -Billy-Ray Belcourt, author of NDN Coping Mechanisms and A History of My Brief Body 

"This is a heartshattering read, and will also be a blanket for others looking for home. NISHGA is a work of absolute courage and vulnerability. I am in complete awe of the sorrow here and the bravery. Mahsi cho, Jordan." -Richard Van Camp, author of Moccasin Square Gardens

"Jordan Abel digs deeply into the questions we should all be asking. Questions that need no explanation but ones that require us to crawl back into our bones, back into the marrow of our understanding. NISHGA is a ceremony where we need to be silent. Where we need to listen." -Gregory Scofield, author of Witness, I Am
Biographical NoteJORDAN ABEL is a Nisga'a writer from Vancouver and a Ph.D. candidate at Simon Fraser University. He is the author of The Place of Scraps, winner of the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize; Un/inhabited; and Injun, winner of the Griffin Poetry Prize. Abel's creative work has recently been anthologized in Best Canadian Poetry, The Land We Are: Artists and Writers Unsettle the Politics of Reconciliation, and The New Concrete: Visual Poetry in the 21st Century. Currently, Abel lives in Edmonton, where he teaches Creative Writing and Indigenous Literatures at the University of Alberta.