Same Book, New Thoughts

Arnay Kathuria
3 min readMay 31, 2024

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I have more thoughts on Moon of the Crusted Snow

Hey! If you didn’t see the first part, I’m reading a book called Moon of the Crusted Snow and I have a ton of thoughts — I talked about the book drawing my empathy last time, but this time I want to talk about stereotypes.

Stereotypes are all over the place!

I remember explaining what a stereotype is to my little cousin a few years ago. He pointed to my pink shoes and asked if they were for girls! I explained to him that pink is just a color and it’s not connected to a gender. It’s crazy that people my age still don’t get that so it was nice explaining it to his 5 year old head even if he didn’t get it!

There’s a pretty common stereotype that Indigenous peoples are drug addicts, usually claiming that Indigenous peoples are addicted to drinking, smoking and other substances. In fact, here’s an article all the way from 2008 talking about it. 2008! That’s 16 years ago! Of course a lot has changed since then, but I know I’ve heard this stereotype too.

The book has characters using substances.

In the book, a bunch of characters drink or smoke. You know, when I was reading it I was thinking that maybe it was actually perpetuation. That is, I felt like maybe the book was validating people’s stereotypes of Indigenous peoples being drug addicts. I know most people reading this book are probably not Indigenous and I thought that seeing the drug use in the book would make them think that the stereotype they’ve heard is probably true.

As I thought about this more though, I thought that maybe there wasn’t really any perpetuation — it was just characters casually drinking or smoking. Since this is an Indigenous author, maybe these experiences are legit things he’s seen or gone through. So what?

So, the use of drugs in the book was not perpetuation.

On page 50, the chief of the Anishnaabe community is talking to a woman named Candace who advises him to take a smoke break as he was stressed. Terry then “took her suggestion and walked outside”. The stereotype that Indigenous people abuse drugs comes with the implication and relies on the assumption that they are lazy or freeloaders.

Woahhh. Pause. Big words.

I’m saying that the only reason people say Indigenous people abuse drugs is because they think Indigenous people are lazy or freeloaders and they use that as a Catch-22 style logic. The book shows Terry smoking. Sorry, I didn’t introduce you: Terry, this is our reader. Reader, this is Terry — a protagonist of the story who is a hard-working, functional, and strong leader. This challenges the assumption of laziness and freeloading, so it challenges the stereotype of drug abuse.

This happens more!

Earlier in the book, Evan is having a conversation with his dad and they are smoking together. The line goes “Evan dragged on his cigarette again, transfixed by his father’s unusually candid speech”. In this case, the hard-working, functional protagonist is Evan.

Evan was cool. He was a father and a husband. He raised kids, hunted, worked in the community, and loved his wife. I don’t know about you but to me that doesn’t sound lazy, freeloading, or anything like that.

You would often only believe that drugs are an issue because of the laziness and reliance they might cause. Since that’s not the case here, there’s no case to be made for perpetuation of that stereotype.

This one was a little heavy. Check out my third part if you wanna hear something cool and a little more fun!

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