Balancing Two Worlds by Cecil King
Balancing Two Worlds: Jean Baptiste Assiginack and the Odawa Nation 1768-1866 is a journey through the history of the Anishnabek peoples as they navigated contact with the strangers who came to their territories. It is the first time that the history of Canada has been told through the voices of the Odawak. It is grounded in the Odawa worldview and told as an Odawa narrative. This book arrives at an opportune moment. As the bicentennial of the War of 1812 reminds us of those critical years in which the very existence of Canada was threatened, we are realizing as never before the important role First Nations peoples played in the defence of a vulnerable border. This book is an account of one of the forgotten heroes of that defining conflict—Jean-Baptiste Assiginack—one of the most dependable and talented of Britain’s native allies, serving as a war chief, interpreter and intermediary between the British and Indian arms of the forces depending Upper Canada. In reclaiming this story, Balancing Two Worlds possesses the charm and interest of the authentic native voice, for it is the career of one Odawa distinguished band member of Wikwemikong written by another. Cecil King has spent two decades recovering the fragments of his career, and interpreting them through the unique lens of an Odawa. A brilliant educator, he has earned the respect of natives and non-natives alike for commitment to the language and traditions of his people, and like Assiginack himself, has lived a life on paths between old and new worlds. No one is better placed to penetrate Assiginack’s psyche.