The following are selected quotes from reviews by professional educators of previous editions of "We Were Not the Savages":
"We Were Not the Savages is a provocative and excellent book. A work that deserves the highest praise. It is brave, insightful, unflinching and above all honest. And, most important, it greatly enhances our positive images of Amerindians."
Barry Jean Ancelet, Professor of French, University of Louisiana, Lafayette, January 15, 2004.
Professor Ancelet is a native Louisiana French-speaking Cajun, born in Church Point and raised in Lafayette. He graduated from the University of Southwestern Louisiana (now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette) with a BA in French in 1974. He received an MA in Folklore from Indiana University in 1977, and a doctorate in Études Créoles (anthropology and linguistics) from the Université de Provence (Aix-Marseille I) in 1984.
He has been on the faculty at University of Louisiana –– Lafayette since 1977. His first position was Director of the Center for Acadian and Creole Folklore, and later as a Professor of Folklore and Francophone Studies in the Department of Modern Languages, which he currently chairs.
Ancelet has given numerous papers and published numerous articles and several books on various aspects of Louisiana’s Cajun and Creole cultures and languages, including Cajun and Creole Music Makers (formerly The Makers of Cajun Music ; revised edition, Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1999), Cajun Country (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1991), and Cajun and Creole Folktales (New York: Garland Publishing, 1994), as well as two monographs, Capitaine, voyage ton flag: The Cajun Country Mardi Gras (Lafayette: USL Center for Louisiana Studies, 1989) and Cajun Music: Origins and Development (Lafayette: USL Center for Louisiana Studies, 1989).
He has served as a consultant and fieldworker for several documentary films, including Pat Mire’s Dance for a Chicken: The Cajun Mardi Gras and Anything I Catch: The Handfishing Story, Karen Snyder’s Cajun Crossroads, Alan Lomax’s Lache pas la patate and many others.
And, he served as associate producer, along with Zachary Richard, and principal scholar, along with Carl Brasseaux, for Pat Mire’s Against the Tide: The Story of the Cajun People of Louisiana, a production of Louisiana Public Broadcasting and Louisiana’’s Department of Cultural, Recreation and Tourism. He served as co-curator for the Modern Language Association’s exhibition, Linguistic Diversity in the United States, and was director of the team of scholars that provided the basic research to the National Park Service for the development of the Jean Lafitte National Park’s three Acadian Culture Interpretive Centers.
He is a member of France’s Palmes Académiques and Quebec’s Ordre des Francophones d’Amérique.
We Were Not the Savages is a required text in "Imaging the Indians," a university course Ancelet prepared and teaches.
"I think your book, We Were Not the Savages, is excellent. Indeed, the best on the subject - I take my hat off to you!
"Having, over the years, in connection with my own writing, read most of the sources you cite in you book, I had long ago arrived at the same conclusion you have. Certainly, white intrusions everywhere in the world have been disastrous for indigenous peoples.
"Joseph Conrad's famous book, Heart of Darkness, is one of my favourites on the subject of European greed having unbridled reign on a continent - not this one, but the same sort of tragedy it engendered there, unfolded here from coast to coast."
Dr. Allison Mitcham, Professor Emeritus, University of Moncton, October 20, 2003.
Dr. Allison Mitcham has taught at a number of Canadian Universities. Prior to her retirement she was a professor of literature (American, English and Comparative Canadian) at the University of Moncton. After retirement she was awarded the honour, Professor Emeritus, University of Moncton.
Professor Mitcham is the author of thirty books (fiction, non-fiction and poetry), and numerous articles published in academic and popular magazines across Canada and the United States. Both her prose and poetry have been anthologized.
In 1994, Mitcham received British Colombia's Lieutenant Governor's medal and the British Colombia Historical History Federation's prize for Taku, the Heart of North America's Last Great Wilderness.
"...Daniel N. Paul's We Were Not the Savages is a brilliant and painful account of how the Mi'kmaqs were treated by the Europeans....
The inescapable conclusion from his book is that if Ottawa and Washington are so concerned about human rights, they might take a long hard look at what we did to the Mi'kmaqs and other Tribes. We forced Germany to pay reparations after World War I. More recently, the Swiss were intimidated into paying Holocaust victims for deposits once held in Swiss banks. Likewise German companies accused of slave labour in World War II have been pressured into compensating their victims.
When will Canada and the United States begin paying reparations to the Mi'kmaqs and other Tribes for what we did to them over the centuries? Daniel Paul makes a convincing case that the time is now! We Were Not the Savages is a fact-filled read that will make Americans of European descent very uncomfortable. I highly recommend it".
Thomas H. Naylor, Professor Emeritus of Economics, Duke University. October 19, 2000.
"...count me in, too, among your book's advocates... [the book] knocks the smile off Englishmen who claim their colonial presence among Indians was 'better' then that of the Spanish".
Professor C. Blue Clark, Interim Director, Native American Legal Center, Oklahoma City University. November 30, 2000.
"We Were Not the Savages...is a unique, in chronological scope and in the story it tells, covering the last three centuries of Mi'kmaq history in detail. It is also extraordinary in the way it presents a distinctive voice [for] the Mi'kmaq...
Prior to the appearance of... this book it was common for historians to downplay or even deny the violence inflicted on the Mi'kmaq people by European and Euro-American colonizers. As recently as 1989 the conveners of a conference on 'The Northeastern Borderlands' summarized what they thought was an emerging consensus on the colonization process in the Maritimes: "widespread peaceful interaction or, to use Donald Meinig's phrase, 'benign articulation' existed among the various Native and European peoples in the region."
This work, more than any other piece of scholarly production, has headed off that consensus at a pass. Scalp-bounty policies are now recognized as a historical problem worthy of investigation...
The book will be of particular interest to readers in the United States for a variety of reasons. First, the early history of colonization in the Maritimes is closely tied to the history of the colonies that became the United States, and as late as the 1750s New England's political leaders played a prominent role in directing the course of colonial affairs on Cape Breton Island and Nova Scotia. Our understanding of New England is diminished, if we neglect its broader sphere of influence. We Were Not the Savages gives that history the attention it deserves.
Second, the chapters on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries provide a detailed and much needed basis of comparison for anyone seeking to understand the similarities and contrasts between the U.S. and Canada on questions of "Indian Affairs".
And finally, it is important to recognize that we have far too few histories written by Native American authors - very few indeed that cover as extensive a time span as this book does.
Geoffrey Plank, Associate Professor of History, University of Cincinnati. December 7, 2000.
Press and individual reviews
Commenmtary by three friends at official launch of the new edition - Mi'kmaq Friendship Centre, Halifax, Nova Scotia, November 14, 2000.
"I was proud and honoured when I got a call from Dan...asking me to attend and address this book launch.... its really informative and I really hope it has good sales... Congratulations Dan!"
Mi'kmaq Grand Chief Ben Sylliboy, November 14, 2000
"I'm really honoured to have an opportunity to be here for Dan's book launching. I haven't had a chance to read the entire book, but when you get into this it's incredible... but the thing that I wanted to mention tonight is Dan Paul, the person, and why I have such respect for Dan Paul.
I'm a very arrogant person, and I don't have many heroes. Now I don't look up to a whole lot of people. Dan Paul is one of those persons I can publicly say I look up to. I've seen him speak in many many places, and Dan Paul always talks about all of the people of the world. He always mentions oppression in its totality
There is something I marked that I want to read (from his book),... (its) why I admire Dan Paul. It's found in Chapter 13...he talks about twentieth century racism and centralization. He says in his book, when he's talking about intolerance, if you don't personally, and he's quoting here, he's quoting a Michael Levine, who's talking about why intolerance exists..."if you don't personally get to know people from other racial, religious or cultural groups, it's very easy to believe ugly things about them and make them frightening in your mind"...
Then Danny goes on and writes. If Europeans had gotten to know and had accepted Indigenous Americans and Africans as equals during colonial times instead of adopting White supremacist racist beliefs which have ruled supreme in negativity depicting both as savages for the better part of five centuries, these people of colour would not have suffered the indescribable hells they have...
And I found that to be a very very powerful statement. And that is why I am so pleased to have the chance to be part of Danny Paul's book launching, and to wish him and Fernwood Publishing the very best and say I'm really really proud that someone from Nova Scotia is writing this kind of material.'
Rocky Jones, prominent African Nova Scotia human rights activists and lawyer, November 14, 2000.
'In the early nineties, Mr. Dan Paul must have voiced the same words as Robert W. Stirling at a time when he too said, I am ready. Dan began the arduous task of researching and writing the historical accounts of the Mi'kmaq people which he titled, "We were not the Savages". The title in itself was a challenging one because of having to prove throughout the manuscript that our Mi'kmaq ancestors were not the savages.
For many years I have personally been involved in education from kindergarden to university. Prior to becoming a professional educator, my experiences in the different school systems, be it Indian Day school, residential school, public school or post secondary, were all devoid of anything positive relating to our history. In fact, I still recall at one time copying a description of an Indian off the black board which certainly was less than complimentary.
As a Mi'kmaq, I speak from personal experience and I believe I speak on behalf of many of our high school students who have gone through high school having very negative feelings about themselves because of the history that is written in the books. I feel that the negative accounts in these books have proven to be detrimental to the progress of the Mi'kmaq nation, socially, educationally, linguistically, economically and spiritually.
Many of us have asked the question, why did the early writers of the Canadian history fail to recognize the First Nations people as a people instead of continually labeling them as savages. They belittled their spirituality and traditions, thus stripping them of their human dignity and self-worth. The outcome was the creation of a nation of oppressed and powerless people.
It wasn't only the Mi'kmaq nation that was reduced in this way, but all First Nations people throughout North America experienced the same degradation and destruction of their human dignity.
The completion of this revised edition of Dan's book, "We were not the Savages", is a cause for celebration. The pages of this book have been written as seen through the eyes , the mind and heart of a son of a Mi'kmaq nation.
This book speaks for our people and promotes true knowledge, understanding and appreciation. Our ancestors were not the savages, they were indeed an Honourable people. When you read the pages of this historical document, you too will conclude that the history of the Mi'kmaq reflects an honourable people.
Reading the pages of this book, continually affirms for me, how good it is to be a Mi'kmaq. I so wish that my father was still living. Wouldn't he be so proud that such a book was available. I also wish that this history book was in existence years ago, a book that now empowers me and fills me with great pride to be a Mi'kmaq.
As a friend, I congratulate you Dan, for having the courage to follow your vision, and for persevering in the challenge to write about our history. May you continue to stand tall and firm when critics come knocking at your door.
Max Booren, very appropriately made the following statement which brings my talk to a conclusion. Our first task in approaching another people, another culture, another religion, is to take off our shoes for the place is holy, else we may forget that god was there before our arrival. Congratulations, Dan.'
Sister Dorothy Moore, Prominent Mi' Kmaq Educator, November 14, 2000.
Congratulatory Motion Passed by the Provincial Legislature, November 15, 2000.
House of Assembly, Nova Scotia. Motion put forward by the Honourable Jamie Muir, MLA, Truro-Bible Hill, Minister of Health, and Passed by the Legislature:
-Whereas Mi-kmaq historian and writer Daniel N. Paul officially launched the new 21st Century edition of his book, We Were Not the Savages, November 14, 2000; and
Whereas this book is a Mi?kmaq perspective on the collision between European and Native American civilizations; and
Whereas Danny Paul's leadership in human rights, as spokesperson and activist, and as a builder in the Mi'kmaq community has been widely recognized, including the award of an honorary doctorate degree by the Universite Sainte-Anne;
Thereby be it resolved that all members congratulate Dr. Danny Paul on the launch of the new edition of We Were Not the Savages, and thank him for his ongoing contributions to human rights and the Mi-kmaq community. November 15, 2000
Selected samples of Commentary by Professional Reviewers and the Public:
'I was deeply moved by the photograph on the cover of your book, by the look on the face of this old man.
I have seen the same look on the face of someone coming back from concentration camps, who could not even talk of what he had been through. I thought it said 'I am still alive - they wanted me dead, but I am still alive.'
The face of this man in rags, barefoot, it is heartbreaking. You could not have found a better illustration of your text. It summarizes everything you wrote. You will overcome!'
Nicole Jones, Researcher, October 14, 2000.
Thank you for the expose of savagery. ...being blind into the bargain, I have not been able to give (Savages) anywhere near the depth of study I wish, but I can see that it bears only a distant relationship to the first edition and is indeed a new and much more important work... I am most impressed...
Dr. Ian Maxwell, MD, retired owner and publisher of the Little Tancook Island Press, November 16, 2000.
Paul's book an eye-opener that belongs in schools... The message in the new book is extremely moving. Whether one agrees or (not) with its contents, it will have a profound impact on any reader...
It is definitely a book that should be incorporated into the school system at all levels in Nova Scotia and throughout Canada....
Joan Jones, independent columnist for the Halifax Herald and human rights activist, December 7, 2000.
...With so many history books that regulate any mention of the Mi-kmaq to an opening chapter on early (European) settlement, this book is important for providing readers with a different perspective that will help them round out their view of how we came to be where we are today...
Halifax Herald Review by Steve Proctor, December 10, 2000.
One of the few books on the subject (Native American History) by a First Nations person, We Were Not the Savages bares the truth about idolized historical figures, and questions the civility of a society that would honour individuals who promoted the extermination of an entire race of people....
Paul details how a people can persevere and manage to survive in the face of a four-hundred-year effort by another civilization to exterminate them.
Mi-kmaq-Maliseet Nations News Review, February 2001.
Mi-kmaq author debunks westernized view of history...We Were Not the Savages critically examines Canadian history as told by the conquerors to reveal a scathing and duplicitous truth about the colonizing process of natives peoples by European settlers...
Daniel N. Paul exposes a history that Canadians have long collectively celebrated as benign, and proceeds to desconstruct the popular myth that Canada was and continues to be a fair and compassionate country....
Tekawennake, Review by Marie-Lauren Gregoire, March 7, 2001.
On his visit to St. Patrick?s High School...historian Daniel Paul pointed out that ?all kinds of discrimination occurred in Nova Scotia, but no one ever talks about it.... Canadian history has no shortage of examples.
...Mr. Paul explained, "Nova Scotia has the distinction of having had three scalping proclamations issued for the Mi-kmaq people, during the mid-1700s, all part of the British government's program of extermination of indigenous peoples.
Our government's remorse for these policies is symbolized in the name of Cornwallis Junior High School, honouring the British governor who played a key role in the program of extermination....
Shunpiking, IN THE SCHOOLS, Youth public affairs discussion? by student Jonathan Surovell, April 2001.
....This book's unique blend of primary documentation, mixed with personal reflection and analysis, should appeal to anyone with even a passing interest in either history or politics. Daniel Paul's portrayal of Canada's past brutal treatment of its First Nations is passionate. And, he is equally serious in challenging current government policies.
If you want to see Canadian history from a new perspective and better understand the situation of its Aboriginal peoples, this book is important.
Nova Scotian Messenger, Neuscbottlander Bote, Review by Jennifer Wallner, Winter 2001/02.