presenting Peyakow: Reclaiming Cree Dignity in conversation with BILLY-RAY BELCOURT
Harvard Book Store’s virtual event series welcomes DARREL J. MCLEOD—author of the award-winning memoir Mamaskatch: A Cree Coming of Age—for a discussion of his latest memoir, Peyakow: Reclaiming Cree Dignity. He will be joined in conversation by acclaimed poet BILLY-RAY BELCOURT, author of The Wound is a World and A History of My Brief Body.
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In Mamaskatch, McLeod captured an early childhood full of the stories, scents, and sensations of his great-grandfather’s cabin, as well as the devastating separation from family, ensuing abuse, and eventual loss of his mother that permeated his adolescence. In the equally potent Peyakow, McLeod follows a young man through many seasons of his life, navigating an ever-turbulent personal and political landscape filled with loss, love, addiction, and perseverance.
Guided internally by his deep connection to his late grandfather, in a constant quest for happiness, McLeod strives to improve his own life as well as the lives of Indigenous peoples in Canada and beyond. This leads him to a multifaceted career and life as a school principal, chief treaty negotiator, executive director of education and international affairs, representative of an Indigenous delegation to the United Nations in Geneva, jazz musician, and, today, celebrated author.
Weaving together the past and the present through powerful, linked chapters, McLeod confronts how both the personal traumas of his youth and the historical traumas of his ancestral line impact the trajectory of his life. With unwavering and heart-wrenching honesty, Peyakow—Cree for “one who walks alone”—recounts how one man carries the spirit of his family through the lifelong process of healing.
Praise for Peyakow
“McLeod reflects on his adulthood as a queer, Cree man working to improve life for other Native people in Canada in his moving latest . . . The result is a heartwrenching meditation on love, loss, and identity.” —Publishers Weekly