War of 1812: Highlighting Native Nations $25
Reviewed by: A. G. Moore, Rythm Prism Publishing (U.S.A.)
Mr. Misiak is Canadian, and the Canadian experience was distinct from the one I learned about. Both the narrative I learned as a child and his are accurate, and yet so dissimilar. That’s the most interesting lesson I took from this book: a reminder that information is dependent on perspective.
War of 1812: Highlighting Native Nations is a beautiful book. It is filled with high-quality color photos that constitute a virtual tour through history, Canadian history, and the flip side of US history. Although this book was written for students, I found it engaging and enlightening. I read it in two stages. The first was a cursory review of the pictures and captions. It’s hard to resist these and so I just enjoyed myself. Then I went back to read in detail Mr. Misiak’s description of events.
Zig speaks about the United States’ “perceived violations of American sovereignty”. England thought it had a right to blockade and interfere with ships in international waters (that is, stop and board neutral vessels). It would not be the first or last nation to do this. But the fact that it was done and that a US ship was fired upon, is more than a perception.
Zig describes the United States’ ambition, and aggression, in seeking to absorb Canada. That is a fact, one that was glossed over in the history I was taught, and generally omitted in my history classes was the role of indigenous Americans and their alliance with Britain in the hope of securing an independent nation west of the Mississippi.
Indigenous Americans, Canadians, and the British fought side by side during the war. The British shared with their indigenous allies the desire to stop American expansion by creating an indigenous buffer state on the US frontier. Many Canadians died defending their homeland, as did many indigenous Americans, including the legendary Tecumseh.
The war ended with the US and Britain each declaring victory. The British agreed to respect US naval neutrality and the US abandoned its ambition to take over Canada. Besides the loss of life and devastation of property, the losers in the war were indigenous People. With the signing of the peace treaty, US expansion beyond the Mississippi was insured and the slow, unrelenting erosion of indigenous sovereignty proceeded.
Mr. Misiak has a gentle voice, which is consistent with his respect for the First Nations People (a term used to describe the indigenous people of Canada). It is obvious that Zig has cultivated a relationship with representatives of the First Nations and that he wishes to share their legacy and struggle for Constitutional rights. The War of 1812: Highlighting Native Nations, would be a worthy addition to any library, especially if young readers have access to that library.