#365 Indigenous: Honouring Lee Maracle (1950-2021)
Lee Maracle, a giant of Indigenous scholarship, poet and writer, mentor, activist, and Stó:lō matriarch, is dead at 71.
Writing in the Globe and Mail, Marsha Lederman says that “legendary Indigenous storyteller Lee Maracle was a powerful writer – poet, novelist, essayist. She was also a fierce activist with an indomitable presence. If you spent time with Maracle – listening to her, talking to her, even just reading her words – you would never forget it: Her laugh, her spirit, her wisdom.”
When Maracle saw RAVEN’s “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants” series, she reached out. We had a fangirl moment when we saw her name in our inbox. This was the woman who wrote Celia’s Song – finalist for the Neustadt International Prize for Literature. Who helped to found the En’owkin International School of Writing in Penticton, B.C. Who was a pioneer in leading decolonizing workshops across the country to educate settlers on genocide and ongoing colonialism.
Lee Maracle! Reaching out to talk to us at RAVEN!
We started up an email exchange, and planned an interview for our podcast. We were nervously looking forward to getting to share tea with a legend … and then, yesterday, this painful news.
There is an outpouring of love and appreciation for Lee coming from all across Turtle Island. The many younger writers whom she mentored, the causes she championed, and the legacy of stories she left behind, all celebrate her today. She gave all she had, and it was phenomenal.
Instead of demanding more of Indigenous creators, we need to demand more of ourselves. That we dive in, step up, read and share their work, foreground them in arts and cultural circles, put their work into curriculums, and — critically — fund them.
Browsing through an airport bookstore the other day it was striking to see that, between the “Fiction” and “Non-Fiction” sections, at least a third of the books in the bestseller racks were by Indigenous authors. Jody Wilson Raybould’s “Indian in the Cabinet”. Jesse Wente’s “Unreconciled”. Michelle Good’s “5 Little Indians”.
Lee Maracle’s work belongs among these celebrated books. We hope, as a resounding bell ringing out in honour of her amazing, profound life’s journey, that her books of poetry and fiction find prominence on these, and many other, shelves.
A Lee Maracle Bibliography
- Sojourner’s Truth and Other Stories (1990)
- Sundogs – 1992
- Ravensong – (Press Gang Publishers, 1993)
- Daughters Are Forever (2002)
- Will’s Garden (2002)
- First Wives Club: Coast Salish Style (Theytus Books Publishing, 2010)
- Celia’s Song. Cormorant Books. 2014.
- Bobbi Lee: Indian Rebel (1975, reissued 1990)
- I Am Woman: A Native Perspective on Sociology and Feminism (1988; Press Gang Publishers, 1996)
- My Conversations with Canadians (2017)
- Oratory: Coming to Theory (1990)
- Bent Box (2000)
- Hope Matters. Book*hug. 2019. (with Columpa Bobb and Tania Carter)
- My Home as I Remember (2000)
- We Get Our Living Like Milk from the Land (1993)
- Telling It: Women and Language Across Cultures (with Betsy Warland, Sky Lee and Daphne Marlatt) (Press Gang Publishers, 1990)