Writer Robert Arthur Alexie (a.k.a. Robert Alexi Jr.), author of the novels Porcupines and China Dolls and The Pale Indian, has died at the age of 58. The CBC reports that his body was discovered on the Dempster Highway in the Northwest Territories near Fort MacPherson, where Alexie was born.
Alexie played a pivotal role in the Gwich’in regional land claim in 1992 and has served as Gwich’in Tribal Council president since 2012.
Shelagh Rogers, host of CBC Radio’s The Next Chapter, has posted a tribute to the author in which she describes her “awe” for Alexie’s writing and her love of Porcupines and China Dolls, which focuses on the story of a residential school survivor. Rogers writes:
Dramatic, raw, merciless, Porcupines and China Dolls is not a book you coast through. It is about our history and what happened to “The People”, as Alexie writes, when the Europeans arrived. The story reaches into the past, but the past is the present.