Following his award-winning debut memoir, Mamaskatch, which masterfully portrayed a Cree coming-of-age in rural Canada, Darrel J. McLeod continues the poignant story of his adulthood.
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.
Like this book? Sign up for occasional updates
Praise and Prizes
“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.”
“A former teacher with extensive training in French and a natural politician, McLeod quickly fell into a succession of roles involving the negotiation and renegotiation of treaties. Particularly newsworthy are his investigations over a long period of Native children victimized by the residential school system, forcing a pro forma apology on the part of the Canadian government that acknowledged ‘that the existence of the schools was profoundly disrespectful of Aboriginal people.’ Every such acknowledgment, every line of every treaty, came at the cost of considerable legal, linguistic, and cultural wrangling . . . Sheds welcome light on little-known aspects of the interaction of Indigenous peoples with politically dominant outsiders.”
“Darrel J. McLeod's Peyakow takes the reader on his personal odyssey and reveals the history of a country with a dark colonial mindset regarding Aboriginal people . . . Peyakow is a page turner. Take the time to read and understand the history of Indigenous people in Canada through books such as this.”
“[Peyakow] presents the Native experience in raw vignettes from the life of the author – the lowest lows and the highest highs . . . In a blend of drama, tragedy, and comedy, Peyakow is an epic tale of one man’s journey to find his culture and to help his people. For anyone interested in how a Native person navigates through current day Canada, this book is rich with personal experience and wisdom.”