Local author delves into Algonquin history
As an avid reader who spent much of his time with a book in hand, Rick Revelle noticed that there weren’t many books on the Omamiwinni, or the Algonquins, and was inspired to change that. So he began to put pen to paper and created a four-part series called Algonquin Quest.
“I was trying to find something written about who I am because I’m an Algonquin person,” said Revelle, who was born in Smiths Falls and is a member of the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation.
After reading 150 non-fiction books, traveling to many museums and doing research, he created the adventure series.
The book series is made up of four different books. The first, I am Algonquin, was published in 2013.
Two years after the first book came out Algonquin Spring, then Algonquin Sunset in 2017.
After the third installment, Algonquin Legacy was recently released on August 11, 2021.
The books are set along the Ottawa River, on both sides of the St. Lawrence River, near the Great Lakes, and west to the Rocky Mountains during the pre-contact era of the 1300s.
“If you’ve read all the books, you’ll have traveled from Newfoundland to the Rocky Mountains, to the Dakotas and everywhere in between,” Revelle said.
Revelle said the book is based on the real history of the Algonquin people, adding that the places they go to are places one can still travel.
Historical fiction books tell the story of an Algonquin family as they experience war, shelter from the elements, and the constant hunt for food.
“They did what the Rideau Canal would look like in the 1300s,” Revelle said, “then they went west through Grenville, and the buffalo hunt is in that area between Gananoque and where the Ottawa river goes down.
Revelle said there were buffaloes in the Lower Great Lakes region during the pre-contact era, but they were eradicated after contact.
The books have been used in classrooms across Canada; and they are intended for people 12 years of age and older, but have also been popular among adults.
The first book, Je suis algonquin, is in its sixth edition since its publication.
Since the release of Algonquin Quest, Revelle has taken the opportunity to speak to children of all ages about Indigenous peoples from Kindergarten to Grade 12.
“My books are used extensively in three school boards in Canada that I know of,” Revelle said. He has visited schools from Manitoba to across Ontario and his books have been used in some Native studies courses.
He has read and taught the history of his people at the Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic School Board and the Limestone District School Board, and has visited the Upper Canada District School Board, but many other school boards use his books, including the Frontier school division in Manitoba where Revelle has been twice.
In addition to the books, he brings with him a native tickle trunk and a native tickle bag to showcase different parts of pre-contact history, such as replica period weapons and furs.
“My presentations are sensory because I convey everything to the students and they can touch the furs,” Revelle said.
For the younger ones, from Kindergarten to Grade 5, he chooses not to read to them because the book is about violence.
He said he taught them how people made a living from the land and looked after the land, how indigenous peoples traded fur for other goods or weapons.
Algonquin Quest explores across Canada and features Indigenous languages in the vernacular, with words from the Algonquin, Anishinaabe, Blackfoot, Cheyenne, Cree, Huron, Lakota, Mi’kmaq and Mohawk languages.
A phonetic glossary at the end serves as a guide for further learning, Revelle said.
He currently has five next lessons in school with the Limestone District School Board in October, but currently has no plans for the Upper Canada District School Board.