The No-Nonsense Guide to Indigenous Peoples – Lotte Hughes

So here we go with the No-Nonsense Guide to Indigenous Peoples by Lotte Hughes. I’ve read and reviewed this for Non-Fiction November, but I’ll elaborate on my thoughts again for some more review content.

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This is literally what you presume it is: a short, but comprehensive introduction to important facts about and issues surrounding indigenous peoples all around the world.
It covers history, colonisation and reclaim. It covers culture, relationship to nature and other people, beliefs and music. It discusses indigenous people speaking up for themselves, being repressed and all the challenges and chances surrounding indigenous groups today.

It isn’t a great book, because it doesn’t attempt to be. It’s 130 pages of basic facts, and although writing a book that short and still including all relevant aspects is a more than respectable task in itself, the result will never end up being a lifechangig masterwork of great scholarly ambition.

That being said, Lotte Hughes really elegantly avoided a lot of traps she could have trod in, first and foremost the romanticising of indigenous culture, which in fact she herself adresses as a problem. She also tries to be very inclusive of indigenous cultures all over the globe, not just concentrating on the American continent or, even worse, North America only.

The book ended up being a very manageable read that, despite the mere collection of facts, I felt genuinely inclined to pick up. Also, it is written in just the right voice for a short introduction in my opinion, never getting too scientific or patronisingly simple.

My main issue with this was the sources and quotes interspersed in the running text. What they were supposed to do is back up her writing with facts and also, which I think is a great idea and very important, have actual indigenous voices in the book as well.
So while I massively appreciate and support the concept, the actual setup just didn’t work for me. The interludes kept disrupting me in my reading, which made for an almost choppy, jumping overall impression.

Still, I could absolutely cope with that flaw in exchange for a book I found very insightful and informative, and I’d wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone wanting to educate themselves.

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