The Prairie Chicken Dance Tour is by Dawn Dumont, Plains Cree of Okanese First Nation. In this book the Tour is all prepared. The Prairie Chicken dance troupe is all set for a fifteen-day trek through Europe, performing at festivals and cultural events. But then the performers all come down with the flu. And John Greyeyes, a retired cowboy who hasn't danced in fifteen years, finds himself abruptly thrust into the position of leading a hastily-assembled group of replacement dancers. A group of expert dancers they are not. There's a middle-aged woman with advanced arthritis, her nineteen-year-old niece who is far more interested in flirtations than pow-wow, and an enigmatic man from the U.S. -- all being chased by Nadine, the organizer of the original tour who is determined to be a part of the action, and the handsome man she picked up in a gas-station bathroom. They're all looking to John, who has never left the continent, to guide them through a world that he knows nothing about. As the gang makes its way from one stop to another, absolutely nothing goes as planned and the tour becomes a string of madcap adventures. The Prairie Chicken Dance Tour is loosely based on the true story of a group of Indigenous dancers who left Saskatchewan and toured through Europe in the 1970s. Dawn Dumont brings her signature razor-sharp wit and impeccable comedic timing to this hilarious, warm, and wildly entertaining novel.
Dumont’s writes a humorous account of the 15-day European tour though the eyes of 3 key members of the dance troupe, in the ‘70s. The organizer, Nadine, and a handsome stranger of sorts, chase the replacement team across the ocean as original members recovered from food poisoning. John, the inept replacement guide, tries leading the budding 19-year-old fancy dancer, her auntie and a questionable grass dancer. If something could go wrong, it does. Its better to laugh than cry, so they find the lighter side to every escapade and brainstorm their way through many difficult situations. Memories and reflections shed light into big issues of racism, cultural appropriation, trauma, roaming spirits and the big question, “What if…”
Characters remind us “silence is golden” and that we really should think before we act. The tour flies by quickly filled with twists, turns and so many events, it’s hard to believe it could be real. Then I reflect back on the 70’s… yes, anything was possible. Resiliency underscores the humorous, painful and joyful events shared across this span of space, time, place, cultures and of course, relationships.
I totally enjoyed this book and recommend it to adults who want to reminisce and to youth who want to understand the older generation and anyone who want to walk in someone else’s moccasin’s for a few days. Dumont must have heard some good stories in her youth to bring this to us. Miigwech! - Submitted by Dr. Laura Horton.