Local author delves into Algonquin history

·3 min read

As an avid reader who spent much of his time with a book in hand, Rick Revelle noticed there weren't many books about Omamiwinni, or Algonquin people, and was inspired to change that. So he set out to put pen to paper and created a four-part series called Algonquin Quest.

"I was trying to find something written about who I am because I am an Algonquin person," said Revelle, who was born in Smiths Falls and is a member of the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation.

After reading 150 non-fiction books, travelling to many museums and doing the research, he created the adventure series.

The book series is comprised of four different books. The first, I Am Algonquin, was published in 2013.

Two years after the first book came Algonquin Spring, and then Algonquin Sunset in 2017.

Following the third instalment, Algonquin Legacy was recently published on Aug. 11, 2021.

The books take place along the Ottawa River, on both sides of the St. Lawrence River, near the Great Lakes and out west to the Rocky Mountains during the 1300s pre-contact era.

"If you've read all the books you'll have travelled from Newfoundland, to the Rocky Mountains, down to the Dakotas and every place in-between, said Revelle.

Revelle said the book is based on the actual history of the Algonquin people, adding the places they travel to are places to which one can still travel.

The historical fiction books tell the story of an Algonquin family as they experience life through warfare, shelter from the elements and the constant hunt for food.

"They travelled down what the Rideau Canal would look like in the 1300s," said Revelle, "and then they went west through Grenville, and the buffalo hunt takes place in that area between Gananoque and where the Ottawa River comes down."

Revelle said there were buffalo in the lower Great Lakes region during the pre-contact era but they were eradicated after contact.

The books have been used in classrooms across Canada; and they're geared towards people 12 and up but have been popular among adults as well.

The first book, I Am Algonquin, is in its sixth printing since being released.

Since the release of Algonquin Quest, Revelle has been using the opportunity to speak to children of all ages about Indigenous people from kindergarten up to Grade 12.

"My books are used quite extensively in three school boards in Canada that I know of," said Revelle. He's visited schools from Manitoba to across Ontario and his books have been used in some Native studies classes.

He's done readings and taught the history of his people at the Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic School Board and the Limestone District School Board, and has visited the Upper Canada District School Board, but many other school boards use his books, including the Frontier School Division in Manitoba where Revelle has been twice.

Along with the books, he brings a Native Tickle Trunk and Native Tickle Bag with him to showcase different parts of the pre-contact history, like replica weapons from the era and furs.

"My presentations are sensory because I pass everything around to the students and they get to touch the furs," said Revelle.

For the younger students, from kindergarten to Grade 5, he chooses not to read to them because the book does talk about some violence.

He said he teaches them about how people used to live off the land and look after the land, how the Indigenous people would trade fur for other goods or weapons.

Algonquin Quest explores all around Canada, and features Native languages in the vernacular, with words from the Algonquin, Anishinaabe, Blackfoot, Cheyenne, Cree, Huron, Lakota, Mi’kmaq and Mohawk languages.

A phonetic glossary at the end serves as a guide for further learning, said Revelle.

He currently has five upcoming in-school lessons with the Limestone District School Board in October but currently doesn't have anything lined up for the Upper Canada District School Board.

Jessica Munro, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times

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