cover image Red Paint: The Ancestral Autobiography of a Coast Salish Punk

Red Paint: The Ancestral Autobiography of a Coast Salish Punk

Sasha taqʷs˘əblu LaPointe. Counterpoint, $23 (208p) ISBN 978-1-64009-414-7

LaPointe, a Coast Salish poet and artist, sifts through her family’s lineage to reckon with the meaning of home in this stirring debut. A descendant of the Nooksack and Upper Skagit Indian tribe in Washington State, LaPointe writes in lucid vignettes that alternate between past and present as she reflects on her ancestors, Salish medicine workers who “faced violence, disease, and genocide”; her nomadic upbringing with her parents in the 1980s; and her romantic relationships in her 30s. Amid shifting landscapes—from the Swinomish Reservation to homelessness in her teens—she discovered punk music, which became a lifelong fascination (“To hear... a shrieking, guttural scream felt like being in the presence of power”) and the conduit to meeting her two love interests: her childhood boyfriend and her husband. While LaPointe’s prose falls flat when charting the love triangle that ensued between the three of them (“Being with him felt like picking up where we left off”), her writing radiates elsewhere—including in a story of her ancestor Comptia, one of the only Chinook Indians to survive a smallpox epidemic. She also displays immense vulnerability when discussing her sexual assaults, and how, through her “own ritual of healing,” she resisted being defined by them. LaPointe’s fresh and urgent perspective on Indigenous culture is enthralling. Agent: Duvall Osteen, Aragi, Inc. (Mar.)