BOOK REVIEW: Tar and Feathers—The Presence of Big Oil in an Aboriginal Community
Review by Anne Green
In Tar and Feathers, Jim Tanner has written a book that engages the reader on a variety of levels: a good tale set within a current topical context, the presence of Big Oil in the everyday lives of an aboriginal community and with the element of an unsolved mystery lurking.
Set against a background of the rigors of daily life in the north, Tanner draws one into the lives of the people of a small northern community as they contend with the realities of a changing world. Their environment is shifting at every “which way” and how to find a balance between potential benefits of energy development and potential risks, but is anyone actually sure of all the potential risks?
As he moves through the action, Tanner weaves in background and legends of aboriginal peoples of the region and their customs. He explores how traditional values are challenged and impacted by outside influences, not just of energy exploration but also of non-traditional Big City aboriginal points of view.
What sets Tar and Feathers apart is that the elements are interwoven on a more than superficial level, but rather one which clearly indicates the author’s working knowledge of the cultural challenges and intricacies of the relationships between the First Peoples and oil resource development. Tanner’s fist-hand experience is evident.
Tar and Feathers is a great choice for those wanting an interesting read with an element of mystery, along with a look at the environmental issues of energy development set against the day to day background of a community and the impact thereon.
Anne Green is the founding director of WordFest: Banff-Calgary International Writers Festival.