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Ahtahkakoop's new book entitled "Ahtahkakoop - the epic account of a Cree Head Chief, His People, and Their Struggle for Survival 1816 - 1896" is to be the first book published by the newly formed, band owned Ahtahkakoop Publishing. The Band formed Ahtahkakoop Publishing after seeing a void of Aboriginal literature and history in the public school system.
The gala book launch was an affair of formality, cultural exhibition and a monologue delivered by the actor Gordon Tootoosis.
Amongst the dignitaries and speakers were: Assembly of First Nations, National Chief Matthew Coon Come, Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan, Her Honour Dr. Lynda Haverstock, FSIN Chief Perry Bellegarde and several other Provincial and Federal Officials.
Ahtahkakoop decide to take it upon themselves to document their history and write the book in a way which oral traditions are balance with historical document sources. Chief Barry Ahenakew of the Ahtahkakoop First Nations is a keeper of oral teaching and has spent his life dedicated to learning and practicing the traditional culture. Chief Ahenakew - who is a direct descendant of Chief Ahtahkakoop - was one of the key individuals in the development and research of the book.
With over 12 years in the making, the research and development invested in this book finally became a reality.
"The book tells the story that First Nations people may already know but the public at large in Canada and abroad are unfortunately lacking" say the author and researcher Deanna Christenssen.
Christenssen, an author and journalist, has been published by Oxford University Press and has worked for many First Nation organizations including the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College in Regina.
The book was written and researched by Christenssen at the request of the Chief and Council of the Ahtahkakoop First Nation.
Christenssen spent years researching government documents, church archives, and the oral history of many Elders at the Ahtahkakoop community.
"This project will capture a wider audience. The book is not a political document, it is a factual, historical account - no other First Nation has undertaken such a comprehensive historical review." Says Willard Ahenakew project coordinator of Ahtahkakoop Publishing.
"This book will be a model and a resource for years to come" adds Ahenakew who is also a great-great grandson of Chief Ahtahkakoop.
"Ahtahkakoop" (Cree for Starblanket) the Chief was a signatory to Treaty Six signed at Fort Carlton in 1876.
Another unique aspect of the book is the 41 original illustrations. Willard Ahenakew was not only the project coordinator for Ahtahkakoop Publishing but was also the main illustrator and art director for the book.
The illustrations are designed to accurately reflect the history and lifestyle on the plains. The illustrations bring the book to life.
Other contributing illustrators were Ed Peekeekoot from Ahtahkakoop First Nation and Regina's Brent Christenssen. To order the book or for more information contact: Ahtahkakoop Publishing at: Toll Free 1-877-534-4437 Fax (306) 468-2994 Mail: Box 190 Shell Lake, Saskatchewan SOJ 2GO or visit the website: www.ahtahkakooppublishing.com