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Title:     If Only the Rod Had Been Round
Author:     Bridget Harris Volden and Ruth Thielke
Category:     2     10     21    
Price:     $ 16
Language:    0
Size:    2
Number of Pages:    213
ISBN Number:    978-1-60458-477-6
Publication Date:    May, 2009
About this Book: 

While the nun beat little Bridget nightly for wetting the bed, Bridget wished, "If only the rod had been round." Perhaps a round rod wouldn't hurt as much as sharp edges of the rod leaving welts and bruises up and down her back and legs. At her school 250 miles from home, nuns tried to teach indigenous children they were savages with no soul, but Bridget kept her spirit. In the appendix are Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s 2008 apology in Parliament to Canada’s indigenous people and response by National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Phil Fontaine.

One of few published indigenous autobiographers, Bridget tells her story with grace and dignity. Excitement of her father as North-West Mounted Policeman in 1880’s; rich culture and history of her mother’s Dene' nation, and descriptions of Fort Simpson and Fort Good Hope in NWT provide background. An agent who cared, Papa, the Famous Flynn Harris, spoke 17 languages when Commissioner of Treaty 11 along Mackenzie River’s 2,500 miles.

About the Author: 

Bridget Harris Volden middle of eleven children cared for parents and then younger siblings left without support after her father’s death. Bridget faced her fears finding work and living arrangements in Edmonton. Abandoned by her first husband in strange surroundings of New York City, Bridget learned new work and coping skills. Invited by her sister to Minneapolis, Bridget left her past behind.

After marriage to Bill Volden, Bridget discovered Jesus’ love and help from AA to fight alcohol. She gave back to her community by helping found The American Indian Bible Fellowship that she directed in downtown Minneapolis for ten years. At 90 Bridget is still actively contributing her father’s Irish humor, her mother’s gentleness, and the rich history and culture of her Dene’ nation.

Book Review: 

Comments from readers include: “Well written.” “I couldn’t put the book down.” “It kept my attention from beginning to end.” “I read it slowly, because I didn’t want the story to end.” “I never knew Indian children were treated so badly.” “Much more history, culture, and drama than I expected in an autobiography.” “I am encouraged to fight my own addictions.”

More sobering: “Bridget only touched on the abuse. At the age of 3 I was taken from my supportive home and placed in a Catholic orphanage. My mother came each day to the fence outside the playground to try to catch a glimpse of me, but I was never allowed to speak to her again.”

Before reading the book, some thought Catholicism would be targeted. However, the abuse was not approved by the Catholic Church as a whole, but at the hands of individuals unable to accept indigenous children as people Jesus died to save. Bridget assures readers, “Papa’s close personal friend Bishop Breynat served Jesus from his heart and loved my people.”

Order/Contact Info: 

For more information, to request a presentation for a classroom or organization, or to order books contact:

Ruth Thielke
511 E 4th St
Morris, MN 56267

320 589-3074

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