Owen Sound, ON , Ontario
Kegedonce Press Team
Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm, founder and managing editor, Chippewas of Nawash First Nation.
Renée K. Abram, publishing manager, Oneida Nation, Wolf Clan.
Tell us a bit about your press. How did you start? Who are your influences, in Canada and beyond? What is your mission?
In 1993, Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm published her collection of poetry, My Heart is a Stray Bullet, the founding publication for Kegedonce Press. It has been her mission to provide a place for new and established Indigenous writers to publish with a press that is sensitive to Indigenous voices and concerns.
For over twenty-five years Kegedonce Press has been crafting beautiful books that involve Indigenous Peoples at all levels of production. We support the enterprise of Indigenous writers, artists, graphic illustrators, designers, editors, printers and others in related fields. Kegedonce is committed to the publication of beautifully written and designed Indigenous literature, both nationally and internationally. Native-owned and operated, Kegedonce is based at Neyaashiinigmiing, on the traditional territory of the Chippewas of Nawash First Nation.
What about small press publishing is particularly exciting to you right now?
With digital outreach, small presses are better able to reach audiences and make an impact in the market alongside the big publishing houses. As changes in the economy and international societies are taking place, more people are becoming interested in supporting the little guy and local economies. We at Kegedonce Press enjoy engaging online with our authors and their followers, as well as readers around the world.
How does your press work to engage with your immediate literary community, and community at large?
Kegedonce Press is a member of the Literary Press Group and we are very grateful to them for assisting us with sales, distribution and promotion. Through their All Lit Up site, we have published articles profiling our books and authors. The Literary Press Group remains our best means of connecting with other small presses and the literary community at large. In 2019 and 2018, Kegedonce also partnered with the Toronto International Festival of Authors for book launch events and a celebration of Kegedonces’ 25th Anniversary. Our authors participate in festivals across the country and hold book launches at community venues such as bookstores, libraries, and restaurants. Although our 2020 launches will be held online, we will continue to partner with local, independent bookstores.
What makes your publications special, needed, and/or unique?
Kegedonce Press creates a space for Indigenous voices, which have been silenced for far too long in Canadian/North American history. As such, we feel that all of our works are necessary and important. We help preserve and spread Indigenous stories, histories, art, culture and language. While all of our books are published in English, many include words, phrases, passages, or whole chapters in Indigenous languages. Most of our authors write about issues of healing, inter-generational trauma, identity, and the ongoing effects of colonialism. We feel these are crucial and much-needed subjects in our current social and cultural situation.
How have the current multiple global crises impacted your work with the press?
Kegedonce typically publishes three or four books per year, and almost always in the last half of the year. This year, our usual schedule has become difficult because so many publishers delayed their programming to the fall due to the COVID-19 lockdown in the spring. We understand that it is going to be a difficult proposal marketing our few books amid the rush. When the pandemic hit, sales dropped as they did for everyone. Out of safety concerns, we shut down our own online bookstore for three months, although our books were always available through other channels. The bookstore reopened in June. Otherwise, we continued pretty much as usual, as we have always worked remotely from home offices.
We watch with hopefulness as the world around us begins to pay much more, much needed, attention to issues of racism, discrimination, and privilege. While we are pleased that such changes draw attention to Indigenous authors and their works, we are concerned that this trend may be (and in some cases, has been) exploited by non-Indigenous writers and even publishers without the necessary sensitivity to colonialism and to Indigenous history, trauma, and identity.
Angel Wing Splash Pattern
Richard Van Camp
Angel Wing Splash Pattern was one of our bestselling titles and its author, Richard Van Camp, has gone on to become a much-loved, prolific, and award winning writer. It is a brilliant and moving collection with quirky characters, often humourous situations, and love, loss, and the search for truth. The setting, that of several communities in Tłįchϙ Dene territory in the Northwest Territories, has a unique and fascinating character all its own. Richard proves in this collection that he is a master storyteller. The 20th Anniversary edition of Angel Wing Splash Pattern was released in September 2020.
you are enough: love poems for the end of the world
Winner of the 2019 Indigenous Voices Award in published poetry in English, you are enough: love poems for the end of the world – is a poetry collection by transmasculine Ktunaxa poet Smokii Sumac. Here you will find brilliant and powerful poems which include timely and sometimes hilarious musings on consent, sex, and gender, grief, loss, and coming home. Through it all, these poems help us come to know that we are enough, just as we are. Smokii has recently been nominated for the 2020 Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBTQ Emerging Writers.
The Trail of Nenaboozhoo and Other Creation Stories
Written by Isaac Murdoch
Illustrated by Isaac Murdoch and Christi Belcourt
Kegedonce is very proud of The Trail of Nenaboozhoo and Other Creation Stories, a beautifully unique book. It is transcribed from the skillful and moving Anishinaabe storytelling of Bomgiizhik Isaac Murdoch and illustrated by Isaac and Métis artist Christi Belcourt. These are powerful sacred creation stories from Ojibwe legend, several of which have been translated by Anishinaabe Elders into Anishinaabemowin. A gift of a work that preserves important Anishinaabe history and legend.