Brotherhood to Nationhood

Brotherhood to Nationhood

George Manuel and the Making of the Modern Indian Movement

Second edition

By Peter McFarlane and Doreen Manuel, Foreword by Pamela Palmater


Shop Local




Audiobook preview:

Google Play Kobo Audible
  • Independent Publisher Book Award Gold Medalist, Canada-West, Best Regional Non-fiction, 2022 (Winner)

Charged with fresh material and new perspectives, this updated edition of the groundbreaking biography Brotherhood to Nationhood brings George Manuel and his fighting tradition into the present.

George Manuel (1920–1989) was the strategist and visionary behind the modern Indigenous movement in Canada. A three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee, he laid the groundwork for what would become the Assembly of First Nations and was the founding president of the World Council of Indigenous Peoples. Authors Peter McFarlane and Doreen Manuel follow him on a riveting journey from his childhood on a Shuswap reserve through three decades of fierce and dedicated activism.

In these pages, an all-new foreword by celebrated Mi'kmaq lawyer and activist Pam Palmater is joined by an afterword from Manuel’s granddaughter, land defender Kanahus Manuel. This edition features new photos and previously untold stories of the pivotal roles that the women of the Manuel family played – and continue to play – in the battle for Indigenous rights.


Brotherhood to Nationhood is more than just a biography of the life of George Manuel; it demonstrates the roots of an Indigenous internationalism and political theory that is grounded in the ethics, knowledge, and practices of the Secwepemc people.”

– Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, author of As We Have Always Done

“As a chronicle of postwar Indigenous resistance—from the back-breaking work of organizing communities to the building of the Assembly of First Nations and the fight for Aboriginal rights—this book is unmatched in its detail. As a testament to the many Indigenous women, without whom none of this could have happened, whose hard labour in struggling to keep families alive empowered that generation of Indigenous men, this book is even more important. Finally, as an exploration of the vision and strategic brilliance of George Manuel, and the power of his leadership, Brotherhood to Nationhood is without parallel. To understand the strength and clarity of today’s Indigenous activists and theorists, we must begin with George Manuel.”

– Bonita Lawrence, chair of the Department of Equity Studies at York University

“We live in a time of colonial reconciliation amputated from truth, of extractive predation by the state and its citizenry, of denial and willful amnesia about Canada’s violent past and present. George Manuel’s decolonial vision speaks just as strongly today as during his lifetime, and it continues in the commitments of his family and his people. This new and expanded edition of Brotherhood to Nationhood reminds us of the transformative possibilities of a life’s work grounded in truth and a relentless commitment to decolonial justice. We need this book, more now than ever.”

– Daniel Justice, professor of First Nations and Indigenous Studies and English at the University of British Columbia

“Peter McFarlane’s classic biography of George Manuel is an intimate and meticulously researched history of the leader and his life’s work, discussing the critically important subject of Indigenous land and liberation. An absolute must-read.”

– Glen Coulthard, associate professor in First Nations and Indigenous Studies and Political Science at the University of British Columbia

“A gripping account of the life of a brilliant Indigenous leader whose vision remains a powerful blueprint for Canada’s unfinished business of decolonization. Like few books I know, it vividly conveys the sacrifices, rewards, and hard strategic choices involved in organizing for political change. The next generation of activists should read it to learn just how much we are indebted to the Manuel family’s legacy.”

– Martin Lukacs, journalist and author of The Trudeau Formula

“This second edition, with updated text co-written by Doreen Manuel, includes brand new insights, including the key role Indigenous women played in George Manuel’s story. Uplifting and inspirational, this book honours the legacy of a visionary political strategist, refreshing our collective memory on how to combine tact with toughness, organize effectively, build respectful relationships, live humbly, and to treat every step—either forward or backward—as a new learning experience in the larger struggle for Indigenous rights.”

– Sheryl Lightfoot, Canada Research Chair of Global Indigenous Rights and Politics

Brotherhood to Nationhood is a necessary and critical book to read for anyone, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, who is interested in the life of George Manuel, one of the greatest contemporary Indigenous leaders in Canada and internationally.”

– Russell Diabo, member of the Mohawk Nation at Kahnawake and Indigenous policy analyst and activist

“An essential companion book to Unsettling Canada, Brotherhood to Nationhood arrives at a critical moment in the fight for Indigenous sovereignty. As co-author of this updated edition, Doreen Manuel brings warmth, honesty, and insight to Peter McFarlane’s incisive text. Here we see the unvarnished risks and great rewards of a lifetime of dedicated activism – as well as the lessons that front-line Indigenous communities today can carry forward.”

– Naomi Klein, author of On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal


Dr. Pamela Palmater
Peter McFarlane
Doreen Manuel
Part I. The Neck of the Chicken
1. Paradise, Paradise Lost, 1960
2. The Hard-Luck Shuswap Kid, 1920–1932
3. White Plague, Red Victims, 1932–1954
4. Local Agitator to Provincial Leader, 1955–1960
5. A Future for Your Children, 1960–1963
Part II. Building the National Movement
6. Community Development and the Arthur Laing Gang, 1965–1967
7. Down the Garden Path: Chretien Andras Consultations, 1968–1969
8. From White Paper to Red Paper, 1969–1970
9. The National Chief
10. The National Indian Philosophy, 1971–1972
Part III. Indian Shogun
11. International Travels
12. Land Title and the James Bay Battle, 1972–1973
13. Red Power
14. Political Eruptions in British Columbia, 1975
15. A Voice for the Fourth World, 1975–1976
16. Back to British Columbia,1976–1977
17. The Peoples’ Movement, 1977–1979
18. Constitutional Express, 1980
Part IV. Final Days
19. European Express, 1981–1982
20. Passing the Torch, 1982–1989
Kanahus Manuel