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THE NATIVE EXPERIENCE IN BOOKS FOR CHILDREN, Ed. Beverly Slapin and Doris Seale, New Society Publishers, 4527 Springfield Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19143, 800-333-9093; send $3 plus price of book for mail orders. 3rd edition, 1992, 312 pages, reviews, articles, lists, bibliographies, index, $24.95 paper, $49.95 hardcover. 0-86571-213-1; Can 1--55092-165-7
THROUGH INDIAN EYES: HOW TO TELL THE DIFFERENCE, Seale and Sabin, New Society Publishers, checklist for spotting anti-(Indian biases in children's books, extracted from the main volume (above) 32 pages, paper, $7.95
The authors, one a children's librarian who is Santee Dakota-Cree, the other a long-time activist author of several anti-bias bibliographies of children's books, were part of a Berkeley group of Native artists, writers and educators called Oyate formed in the 80's to combat racism in education. Thjis book pulls together a number of short articles -- some reprinted from sources that would be impossible to find about stereotyping and inaccuracies about Native people in children's books and education generally (school Thanksgivings come in for knocks from Modoc Michael Dorris for example). There are 124 pages of book reviews -- seemingly mostly by the authors -- and a 32-page checklist of how to recognize good and bad children's books on Native Americans (with examples of comparative good and bad for all characteristics) which is available separately for $8. Bibliographies are still somewhat useful, though compiled in 1972, where certain classics (mostly not children's books) are included. Over half the book is essays by mahy Native peopl -- teachers, traditional storytellers, librarians -- that range from hurts they felt themselves as children because of how Indian people were portrayed in schoolbooks to why non-=Indian authors should not rip off traditional Native stories as "raw material" for their own. See long review and catalog sources of hard-to-find books by Native authors. This unique resource should be owned and frequently consulted by all teachers, librarians, libraries, etc. and studied or mentioned in school of education courses on multicultural education.
The second, cheaper publication is 32 pages of Nativ-perspective evaluation ctiteria, updated from the longer book. This is much more than just a checklist. The authors attempt to educate people to recognize what's wrong with some books, and this can hardly be done by just statements. So, for each of the many qualities they ask you to look for, they give an example of good and bad drawn from a children's book. Sometimes it's illustrations, mostly it's passages of text. I'd recommend this one very highly too, except I think everyone should have the complete book. But if you're a student, or very poor, get this for some guidance. Se longer reviw Oyate also sells (at cost) a number of hard-to-get children's books, focusing on those by Indian authors, and small or tribal presses. Their catalog is $3. The sihouetted star-head day-eagledreamer logo means the book reviewed here is available from Oyate's catalog.Reviewed by Paula Giese, file
FROM ABENAKI TO ZUNI: A DICTIONARY OF NATIVE AMERICAN TRIBES, by Evelyn Wolfson, illustrated by William Sauts Bock, Walker and Company, New York: 1988. Paperback, 1995. 215 pages, index, bibliography, appendix tribal listing. $9.95 paperback. 0-8027-7445-8
This reference work for children and young people has been a good seller and favorably reviewed in non-Indian periodicals on children's books. Because of its nature as a kind of short-form junior encyclopedia, it can stand as an exemple of all kinds of badness placed (and enthusiastically used) in many non-Indian school libraries and classrooms as a children's reference. Read long review of this incredibly awful children's reference work, which has been well received by white educators, and after good hardcover sales now comes out also in paperback. A long analytical essay treats many aspects of what's wrong with it, in order to help you learn to ID such problem-works yourself. Paula Giese
RED HAWK'S ACCOUNT OF CUSTER'S LAST BATTLE: THE BATTLE OF LITTLE BIGHORN, 25 JUNE, 1976, Paul Goble; University of Nebraska Press (Bison Books), 312 North 14th Street, Lincoln, NE 68588-0484; 800-755-1105, FAX 800-526-2617; original publication 1969, Bison Edition 1992; 62 pages, oversize paperback, illustrated, map, $9.95; 0-8032-7033-X
It is very good to have this -- the very first of Paul Goble's books -- back in print, in a beautifully-illustrated, reasonably priced paperback. This is a fictionalized history, but the only thing fictionalized about it is that it is told through an imaginary 15-year-old (at the time of the battle) Lakota youth. Goble actually researched a great many Indian accounts of the battle of Greasy Grass (aka Little Bighorn). He restricted Red Hawk's "account" of the battle to those things he saw and heard himself, i.e. this is not a panoramic overview. Rd Hawk apparently did not hear the famous vision of Sitting Bull (many soldiers falling dead from the sky into the encampment). But the historic view is transmitted via the reader working back and forth between a few italicized paragraphs of the military histories and a large map (Indian style) which forms the frontispice. Goble also spent a great deal of time travelling and visiting in Indian Country -- mostly with plains tribes -- beginning with his first visits, as a European art student, in 1959.
In a preface to the new 1992 Bison Books edition, Goble says: "In the late 1960's my son was watching a children's TV series about Custer, which bore no resemblance to th Custer of history. I searched for children's books which would give the facts, but was unable to find anything." So this became Goble's first book. "I grew up believing that Indian people had been shamefully treated: thir beliefs mocked, their ways of life destroyed; and upon threat of starvation, forced to imitate the colorless, joyless, insensitve aliens who had conquered them. I tried to be objective in writing the book, but for me, the battle represented a moment of triumph, and I wanted Indian children to be proud of it." About the art style, Goble says that for this and his next book he was influenced by warriors' advertisements of their coups with paintings on tipis and robes.
Although Goble considers this a children's book, it is for older youths than his later ones. Ages 10 through 60 (this reviewer) will enjoy it. Older readers will need to go back and forth between the italicized military portions and the frontispiece map, to reconstruct the factual battle, where the inexpenrienced Major Reno's larger force was pushed across the river, and did not join up with Custer. This book is recommended for all middle and secondary schools. I do wish that University of Nebraska had taken advantage of their new edition to add a bibliography, and perhaps a summary overview of the battle, although I enjoyed puzzling out the troop movements from the map and bits of text.
The large, ornate, Indian-style map frontispiece is deserving of special mention. It's the first artistic map I've seen which actually clarifies events. I'd like to see University of Nebraska Press make a large poster of this map, with call-out text boxes both of young Red Hawk's observations and the military historians' overview. The book's ending is sad, for this is in fact a true history. Red Hawk tells us, 50 years later, that as an old man, he attends a 1926 memorial festivity of "a great gathering to remember the battle" (perhaps a dedication of the national monument, which when I saw it in 1978 honored only the white soldiers who fell there).
"Once the earth was ours: now there is only a small piece of it left which the white people did not want. Our young men who try to walk the difficult road of the white people remember with pride that we won a great victory that day."
This book is mandatory for middle and high schools who hav any sort of Native cultural component to their history or literature instruction. Oddly, it is not included in the current Bison Books catalog of University of Nbraska Press's books in print, but it's in their computers, you can order it. Do so. Reviewed by Paula Giese
BRAVE EAGLE'S ACCOUNT OF THE FETTERMAN FIGHT, 21 DECEMBER 1866, Paul Goble; University of Nebraska Press (Bison Books), 312 North 14th Street, Lincoln, NE 68588-0484; 800-755-1105, FAX 800-526-2617; original publication 1972, Bison Edition 1992; 62 pages, oversize paperback, illustrated, maps, $9.95; 0-8032-7032-1/p>
Another welcome reprint of Goble's second book -- one for older readers than most of his later story and legend books -- this one recommended for Middle School, Young adults up to, say 60 or so. This book is fictionalized in the same way as his first book on Custer's last battle. A viewpoint character, the imaginary Brave Eagle, becomes the medium for telling the story of this fight, drawn from numerous accounts of Lakota people later recorded by historians. This book has a preface, because the fight is not so well known as the Custer battle 10 years later, and a conclusion, both expressed in a historian's objective voice:
Throughout the summer of 1867 the seige continued, and no white men dard to use the Bozeman Trail....The Wagon Box fight was a defat for th Indians, but if confirmed Washington's fears that Red Cloud was determined to continue the seige....They ordered the (Bozeman) forts to be abandoned. By the Treaty of 1868 the Bozeman Trail was closed and the Powder River Country given back to the Indians. It was a triumph for Red Cloud. Washington soon forgot the treaty and the soldiers marched again, but Red Cloud never went back on the promise he had given to fight no more."
Here's the principal weakness of this book as vivid and well-written history for young people. There needs to be some more maps, and an explanation that the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, which defined Indian country as a fairly large area, including the sacred Black Hills and the Powder River country bordering the Wyoming Bighorns was included. This treaty was unilaterally abrogated by the U.S. when Custer's expedition confirmed there was gold in the Black Hills, leading the the war of the Plains (in which Custer's last battle was a final high point for the Indians fighting for their homelands). The 1868 treaty was a strong one for the Lakota nation, and still figures in current history: it was asserted by the American Indian Movement at Wounded Knee II in 1973, it resulted in a Black Hills claim settlement still rejected by most Pine Ridge reservation Lakotas today. Thus the conclusion of Red Cloud's War is more important historically for U.S. Native people than the better known Custer battle; a longer postscript, with this history, would be in order for the next edition.
In his preface to the new edition, Goble says: "I wrote the book for Indian children because I wanted them to know about and feel proud of the courage of their ancestors. I have written all my books primarily with Indian children in mind, because I firmly believe that what is fine from 'buffalo days' can be transferred to life in these 'automobile days'. The essential truths contained in the mythology never change. They are like an anchor. Similarly the examples of their great leaders of history can be taken for today's inspiration."
Stylistically, Goble mentions another influence, besides the recorded Indian accounts of the battles, and his Lakota friends: "This book was written in the early 1970's at the time when the American Indian Movement was strong. I saw the AIM leaders in the image of the warriors I was writing about. It is fashionable to denigrate the movement, but as far as I was concerned they were courageously defending their people against the ever continuing aggression. It was an exciting period which influenced everyone in some way or other; I am sure a few extra warlike and bloodthirsty phrases were added to the book as a result."
I didn't find any. Brave Eagle says things like: "I think the soldiers were too surprised and frightened to shoot back. For a long moment, they stood, not knowing what to do. They did not have a chance. Many died right there before they had fired their first shot. If our arrows missed one soldier, then the one next to him would fall, because they were bunched up together in lines where they had stopped. I remember seeing a horse with arrows sticking in him and crazy with pain charge off down the trail straight into the decoys. The soldier tried desperately to rein him back, but fell from the saddle full of arrows; his horse dragged him bumping over the frozen earth. It was bad."
Brave Eagle honors brave enemies, and there is only the slightest of ironies (Goble's emotions coming through) when many years later, he stands looking at one of those historical monumentswhere white people are being photographed, standing "unthinking on the earth and the growing grass which remembers.", memorializing the dead whit soldiers of this fight, Most Indian people see these historical monuments of the Indian Wars as concrete instantiations of racist history. Brave Eagle is more philosophical.
Though Goble calls this a children's book, it is fine for upper middle school, and recommended for young adults. It is very good that University of Nebraska Press has brought it back from its out-of-print status. I hope this edition sells out fast, and that the next will have the postscripted history of the 1868 Treaty (and maps) that I think would add greatly to its value. This book, like the Custer book, is inexplicably omitted from the current Bison Books-in-print catalog. As with the Custer book, the computers know about it, so you can order it -- do so. Reviewed by Paula Giese
Books by Paul Goble available from Amazon.com.
ON THE (MINNESOTA OJIBWE) RESERVATION, Caroline Gilman et al, special issue of Minnesota Roots magazine published for schools; Minnesota Historical Society, 345 Kellogg Boulevard, St. Paul, MN 55102, 800-647-7827; 1986, reprinted 1990; 39 pages oversize magazine. Photos, teaching resource listing, reservations map. $3.50. No ISBN
This special issue of the twice-yearly magazine provides a good overview of Ojibwe life and culture at about the time Minnesota Indians were being forced onto reservations. An initial essay is drawn by Gilman from the thoughtful and colorful autobiography of Way-quah-gishig (John Rogers of the White Earth reservation. Another essay describes the effects of th Dawes Allotment Act, with a map that shows the checkerboarding of Leech Lake (once a part of what had been intended to be the larger White Earth), where 90% of the land has been lost either to private purchasers or to state and U.S. Forest Service land. It's one of the better presentations on this shameful and important aspect of American history for young people.
For on-reservation life, the total control of the Indian (Bureau of Indian Affairs) agent -- a power so easily and so often abused -- is shown. There is a short essay about how the agents arrested the Beaulieu brothrs and seized the printing presses and issues of the first Indian newspaper, the White Earth Progress, because it opposed some misdeeds of the white rulers. The Beaulieus successfully fought their federal expulsion from their homes on the reservation, and the surpression of their newspaper in court, and won. Other essays tell about life for young people in th Indian boarding schools of the period, which were intended to stamp out the traditional culture and language. A final section tells of 20th century life in the cities -- prejudice, difficulty of finding work, the post-World War II relocation policy (part of th U.S. policy then to terminat -- end -- all Indian reservations). There is a rare picture of the first AIM office, in the sleazy area of Indian bars on Franklin Avenue. Red School House, started by AIM, and Migizi Communications, which teaches communications skills, are also shown and written of as modern survival efforts organized by Indian people, not by white charities or political agencies.
Although this special issue focusses on Minnesota Ojibwe, it is also highly recommended as a good explanation of what things were like (in general) for reservation Indian people everywhere, as the reservations were robbed of land by allotment, and as people came to nearby cities for work, after World War II. A photo-essay of life on the Red Lake reservation, taken from the book by photographer-essayist Charles Brill who lived there for several years, contrasts this life -- hard work, no luxury, but idyllic all the same -- with the city grind.
For non-Indian schools, it is better to have exposure to some real Indian people and real Indian culture in real historical contexts than generalities about long-ago peoples living in tipis and making pottery, how quaint. This issue of Roots (which is available in discounted larger quantities for classroom use) was prepared by well-known Native people. Reviewed by Paula Giese
GRAND MOUND: MINNESOTA HISTORIC SITES SERIES; Michael Budak; Minnesota Historical Society, 345 Kellogg Boulevard, St. Paul, MN 55102, 800-647-7827; 1995, 28 pages oversize paperback $7.50, timeline, color photos, 0-780873-513081
All over the U.S. once were massive earthworks -- stepped pyramids, fortress-like walled towns, raised effigies of animals and mysterious mythic figures. Raised mounds, like this one near the Canadian border, wher3e the Big Fork joins the westward-flowing Rainy River, is this one, now 25 feet high, 100 x 140 feet at base, and containing about 90,000 cubic feet (5,000 tons) of earth. It's covered with trees and scarred with diggings by early treasure hunters. Most pre-contact earthworks are gone, plowed under, built over. This one was mad a state historical site, protected and with an interpretive center, whose site manager is this book's author.
Due to repatriation and reburial activities of the American Indian movement and local tribes, human remains taken from this and other burial mounds nearby were ceremonially reburied in 1991. Budak says:
"Dakota and Ojibway spiritual leaders met at the restored mound from which many of the remains had originally come. It was a cool, partly cloudy fall day. The nearby Rainy River was as smooth as glass -- there was not a breath of wind. After the spiritual leaders performed a purification ceremony, the boxes of bones were carried a half-mile down to the river-bottom mound. Then the leaders placed the bones and offerings in a large hole dug in the mound for this purpose. As the bowl and stem of a ceremonial pipe were put together in preparation for the first prayer, a tremendous gust of wind suddenly blew in from th river. A bald eagle soared above us over the tree tops. It became completely calm again, and we stood in awe, motionless and silent for many moments befor resuming the ceremony."
Most of the book, though, is a scientific and photographic presentation of what archaeologists have learned about the ancient cultures which successively established what were probably temporary camps, when huge sturgeon came up the river here for spawning. The first of these camped in this area around 9500 years ago, as the gigantic glacial lake Agasiz was starting to dry up. They did not do mound burials, they left stone flaked tools, indicating they had invented a kind of spear-thrower calleed an alatl. 7,000 years ago, the climate got much warmr. Those people used copper for ornaments and some tools, learned to fish better so they could live in larger groups. 2200 years ago, they began to build the first mounds. It was still a fishing and ceremonial, not year-round living site. Important bodies were brought her for reburials, and the mounds grew, layer by layer, over many centuries. Around this time for the next thousand years, there was an extensive trading network among the Native people of north America. Shells from the Gulf of Mexico and California, and rocks, metal and plants from many faraway places are found in campsites. Around 600 years ago, something happened, no one knows what. People stopped coming there, stopped adding burials to the mounds. 300 years ago, European fur traders and the Ojibwe people arrived in the area. In 1883, some local men dug a big tunnel through the base of Grand Mound, but it's not known what they did with whatever they found there. The reburials were of rmains found in University of Minnesota excavations made in 1933 and 1956.
This handsome little book has a history of these ancient people, with interesting photos of such artifacts as pottery and stone tools. It is interesting to learn that the ancient people were able to make very large pots (coild clay will collapse if pots are much bigger than a gallon) by making woven bags that held the clay together until it dried and could be fired. Photos show pot-making techniques, giant sturgeon that could still b found there in 1906, and many of the little flowering woodland plants of the area. The text sketches the history -- as much as can be reconstructed from little scraps -- of the ancient peoples who camped in this area for 12,000 years, in several successive cultures. Technological innovations, such as the toggle-headed fishing harpoon, which seems to have migrated down from the Arctic peoples who invented it, have been found. These are part of the indication that travel and trade -- and ideas -- were part of this ancient world, whose only records are scraps left behind in the earth.
A handsomely-produced booklet whose educational utility would have been greatly increased by better site location maps, and some placement of Minnsota mound and archaic people's sites within a larger context of an earthworks and perhaps ancient trade routes or cultural diffusion map. Most of the work on archaic peoples is in highly technical scientific books and articles prepared by and for archaeologists. This one has been prepared with schools in mind. Reviewed by Paula Giese
GROWING UP INDIAN, Evelyn Wolfson illustrated by William Sauts Bock, Walker and Company, New York; Canada: Thomas Allen and Son, Markham, Ont. 1986, 81 Paages, Index, Bibliography.$11.85, 0-8027-6644-7
This is a reference book by the author of Abenaki to Zuni. This book is in the form of narrative, whose chapters are organized around a lot of questions, starting with "What is a cardleboard?" each answered with a page or two of text. This is a vwry objectionable book, loaded with errors, made-up facts, facts the author seems to have hit on perhaps from one reading source and has generalized, and wooden, condescending talk-down writing. Despite the fact that a mishmash of factsd from different tribes is given in answer to most of the questions around which the book is organized, the idea of a homogeenized Indian (or "papoose") is generalized. Although this book apparently intends to convey its mish-mash of facts and customs about a child's life before contact, facts about the use of cloth, metal, horses, are post-contact. There isn't anything about contact, diseases, conquest, land-taking, etc. And the book implies (without explicitly stating) that all Indians are now gone, alas. Not recommended. Reviewed by Paula Giese
INDIANS OF THE NORTHEAST WOODLANDS, Beatrice Siegel Illustrations by William Sauts Bock; Walker and Company, New York; Thomas Allen and Son Ltd, Markham, Ont. Can. 1972, rev. ed 1992. 96 pages, paper, $6.95, Index, bibliography. 0-8027-7455-5. Also available in library binding.
This book invites comparison with Wolfson's Growing Up Indian from the same publisher. It is similarly structured, with a series of questions, and several pages of text to answer, a formula which may have been copied by Wolfson from the first edition of this book. This book does right everything Wolfson did wrong. By limiting herself to one cultural group, Algonquians and Iroquoians of the Northeast Woodlands, Siegel avoids a homogenization treatment. She found and consulted an active Native (Narraganset) historian member of one of the Northeast Woodland tribes. She knows Indian people are not all-gone fixtures of a distant past, and takes her story to today, covering the sovereignty and land struggles of these same tribes. She begins with an environmental sketch, and thus places the Woodland culture in a context. Next, she answers (for white children) why "we" might want to know about "them". This is certainly an answer any writer of children's books of this type must first have answered for herself whether or not it's explicitly stated for readers:
"Native Americans had a way of life that is worth studying in itself. They were the first people on this land, and now, after centuries of struggle to survive, their traditions and beliefs are being recognized for the valuable lessons they hold for us all....Europeans used their knowledge, skills, and assistance to settle in a different world."
For a general non-personified objctive regional-tribal historical overview this has been done very well. The illustrations (by Lenni Lenape William Sauts Bock) are black-and-white drawings, mostly not very attractive, and this book could use many more maps. See longer review for more information. Reviewed by Paula Giese.
THE BASKET MAKER AND THE SPINNER, Beatrice Siegel, illustrated by William Sauts Bock, Walker and Company, New York; Canada: John Wiley and Sons Ltd, Rexdale, Ont.; 1987, 63 pages, hardcover, index, bibliography, Appendix Wampanoag Calendar; $10.95, 0--8027-6694-3
In this book, Siegel contrasts and finds some similarities in the lives of 2 young married women of the early 17th century: Yawata, a Wampanoag New England Woodland tribal member, and Mary Allen, an English colonist who is teaching her cloth-making skills to an 8-year-old daughter. No phoney meeting between the two occurs. "In many ways, it was a pity, for Yawata could hav passed on to Mary valuable information about the riches and dangers of woodland life. Mary could have given Yawata and her people the option of absorbing what they wanted from another way of life." This is a sort of feminist-optimist theory of history -- that if women, with their concerns for life presevation, survival, and the technologies of daily life, had been in direct cross-cultural contact, everything would have been different. Well, maybe if women had had any political power or controlled military power or if the colonial women didn't go along with militant Christianity. This bit of hopeless historical romanticism aside the book is interesting and will be engaging to girls (boys may not care for it).
Siegel is a careful researcher, who consults Native people -- possibly here some Mohawk Adirodack-style splint basket makers -- as well as doing a lot of reading. Her work shows respect for the lifestyle and the traditional skills. Besides Yawata's work on baskets and woven mats, there is a chapter on inter-tribal basketry, with styles and methods illustrated, showing several of the principal techniques, coiling, twining, preparation of materials. A similar emphasis on the techniques Mary Allen uses and teaches: breaking down flax, carding wool, spinning are explained.
Sigel is the author of several other children's books on early technology (The Steam Engine; The Sewing Machine), and is a clear and interesting expository writer. At the end of the compare-and-contrast, Siegel is reports the effects of the colonists' Manifest Destiny doctrines, and introduction of diseases: "Not only did Yawata and Mary have different ways of looking at things, but Mary arrived with the conviction that Europeans were superior to the native people, that she and Yawata were in no way equal. Such thinking made it easy for the colonists to push the native people around, to take over their land, to enforce European ideas by violence. Yawata and most of her people were wiped out. At first disease took its toll, then came wars and murder....But they did not vanish. Survivors held on to their long arduous history and culture. They tenaciously regarded the earth as theirs. They struggled and demanded their rights. Today there are Indian scholars, writers, painters, and sculptors portraying thir side of history....There are also Indian women basket makers ....There are also a few spinners. Today the basket maker and the spinner respect each other's craft and talnt and ach others's right to enjoy a different cultural heritage. They also recognize how much they have in common as women."
These passages are typical of Siegel's native historical materials for children. She typically emphasizes that despite the destructions, Indian people are not gone. Siegel also wrote Indians of the Northeast Woodlands (reviewed here), A New Look at the Pilgrims, Fur Trappers and Traders; Sam Ellis's Island, (19th century immigration) and an acclaimed YA biography about a young immigrant woman's 19th-century survival struggles in city life and the early labor movement, Lillian Wald of Henry Street, as well as several children's books explaining simple technologies. Whatever her subject, she respects it, and does careful research. Ability to write nonfiction for children that is neither oversimplified nor condescending (often by a sort of misplaced cuteness) in tone is rare; Siegel has it. Recommended. Reviewed by Paula Giese
THE SACRED HARVEST: OJIBWAY WILD RICE GATHERING by Gordon Regguinti, with photographs by Dale Kakkak. Lerner Publications Company, 241 First Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 55401, 800/328-4929. Illustrated, map, bibliography, glossary. 48 pp., $6.95 paper.0-8225-9620-2, Middle School
To the Ojibway of northern Minnesota, wild rice is called mahnomin. Eleven-year-old Glen Jackson, Jr., who lives on the Leech Lake Reservation, excitedly helps his father drag the canoe to the Bowstring River to take part in his first harvest of mahnomin, a sacred food, a gift from the Creator. The reader tags along, as Glen's father shows him how to maneuver the canoe, how to tell if rice is ready to harvest (it's dark brown in color), and how to use a knocker to bend the rice and another to dislodge the grains into the canoe. At his grandmother's house, Glen learns to parch the rice (cooking it over a low fire to separate the grain from the husk), then place the grain in a wooden basket and dance on it (called "jiggling") for further separation, and finally, he winnows the rice for final separation. Grandma Susan cooks up the rice grains, and gives thanks to the Creator for the harvest before giving Glen his first taste of the grain that means survival to his tribe. The tribe also sells the rice commercially under the name Leech Lake Wild Rice.
The book also recounts a short Ojibway tribal history, locates the seven Ojibway reservations on a map of Minnesota, and describes the market for commercially-grown wild rice. Highly recommended. Reviewed by: Steve Brock
CHILDREN OF CLAY: A FAMILY OF PUEBLO POTTERS by Rina Swentzell,with photographs by Bill Steen. Lerner Publications Company, 241 First Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 55401. 800/328-4929.Illustrated, map,bibliography, glossary. 40 pp., $15.95 cloth. 0-8225-2654-9, (Middle School)
Gia Rose lives in an adobe house at Santa Clara Pueblo in New Mexico. One hot day, she gathers her family and drives to the mountains to collect clay. At the clay pit, she prays to Clay-Old-Woman and tells her that the clay she takes will be used carefully and respectfully. After the buckets and tubs are filled, Gia tells the children about Water-Jar-Boy. Born as a clay water jar, he turns into a real boy when he goes hunting with his grandfather.
At home, water is poured into the containers, and the clay soaks it up for several days. Next, the clay is screened to take out rocks, and then it is mixed with sand.
Now the clay is ready for molding. The family members gather to make several designs, which dry for a week, and then are polished and painted. Many of the pieces are painted with lizard or bear symbols. Weeks later, the pieces are fired. The family asks Clay-Old-Woman to protect the pieces so that they do not get damaged. The finished pieces are used by the family, given to relatives, or soldat the pueblo or to art galleries. The book also contains a brief description and history of the nineteen pueblos of New Mexico, and introduces several Tewa words, such as owingeh (village) and posongeh (Rio Grande). Illustrated with 45 color photographs, the book is a delightful celebration of an ancient art. Highly recommended. Reviewed by: Steve Brock
A Second Look at the two above books: Lerner, a Minneapolis publisher, now has a whole series of these photo-illustrated books, both in low-cost paperback and at about $15 with school discounts in sturdy hardcover.Lrner has worked with Indian people of this area for more than 30 years to produce Native-centered literature for all ages, even when they sold very few of them.
They worked with women of the American Indian Movement in the early 1970's, when we mapped out with them what we'd like to see for our Survival Schools, all the more extraordinary when we explained these schools operated on no money and couldn't even buy paper for the kids, so we would be around hustling for free books. One new book in the series is written by Laura Waterman Wittstock (Seneca), who has a long local and national history of Indian activism, all are written in close cooperation with tribal people and elders. I will be reviewing the rest of Lerner's Native books for young people here soon. There are 7 so far for Middle School, more are planned, and Lerner has several for young adults. The middle school series (but none of the others) are available from AISES, but they carry only the paperbacks, which will not stand up long to school use by lively youngsters.
Meanwhile, you can see a different type of experimental book review -- it's a web trip (or maybe guided research considered in more stodgy terms). The takeoff is Children of Clay,, as well as a book for younger children and a book of poetry for any age, all by women of the same talented Santa Clara Pueblo family. Reviewed by Paula Giese
TEEPEE TALES OF THE AMERICAN INDIAN: RETOLD FOR OUR TIMES, Dee Brown, Holt, Rinehart, 1979, grades 5+
Brown was at the height of his reputation for his best seller, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee when this book was first published, obviously trading on his reputation. His name on th cover is a near-guarantee of sales. He chose 36 stories from 19th century and early 20th century anthros and folklorists, arranged them in categories and retells them to get rid of what he considers archaic language, disconnected incidents, obscure plots and meanings. This retelling removes depth and richness from the stories, which were usually multi-level, with appeals and lssons to all ages of their hearers. Tthe book was described by Native reviewers in Through Indian Eyes as surprising in its lack of sensitivity, especially notable in introductory and expository material. Native people are referred to exclusively in the past tense, and Brown says there wouldn't be any of these stories if non-Indians hadn't collected them. Overall, the original collected stories are preferable, but they are widely scattered. The retellings don't denature the stories as much as most legend-retellings for children's literature. If the book is used from a library it's not objectionable, but money is better spent on recommended legend collections that stay closer to actual Native tellings. Reviewed by Paula Giese
POCAHONTAS, Ingri and Edgar d'Aulaire, Doubleday, 1949
With the release of the Disney cartoon has come an interest in directing schoolchildren to research Pocahontas. At this site there is a PocaSection that gives Native American opinions about the film. The d'Aulaire book has turned uprecently in a number of sources suggesting research projects for children.
Years before the film, Native reviewers said:
Ingri and Edgar d'Aulaire have poroduced many books that are part of the canon of beautifully illustrated and classic writing for childre. Although quite old, most of them are still in print, and show up regularly on recommended lists. And they contain some of the most blatant racist writing to be found in modern children's literature.
This book must surely contain every verbal and visual Indian stereotype known to humankind. The Native people are both naive and cruel, the women are squaws, the men are braves. The women do all the work, while the men and boys get to hunt, fool around, and capture white colonists. All the Indians are fascinated by white culture, which is clearly of a much higher order than thir own....The Indians behave in the fashion one would usually expect from savages. The illustrations are astonishing [bearing no relationship to anything worn by any Native American tribe, ever]....The story about John Smith is not true. Historians believe Smith was the one who made it up; he was known to be a great liar. A book to avoid. Review abridged from Through Indian Eyes (1992), by Beverly Slapin and Doris Seale
THE DOUBLE LIFE OF POCAHONTAS, Jean Fritz, Putnam, 1983, grades 4-7
Pocahontas is one of the handful of Indian names immediately recognizable to most white Americans. The little that is actually known about this young woman can be covered in a few short paragraphs, yet she has been the subject of countless articles, stories, and works of non-fiction. (At least half a dozen children's titles based in one way or another on her life are currently available.) More than any other individual, with the possible exception of Sacajawea, Pocahontas is the embodiment of whites' romantic mythology of the American Indian.
Although most historians now acknowledg that John Smith lied when he told of having been saved by Pocahontas, the popular conception remains unaffected. Jean Fritz's "biography" will do nothing to chang this. She reproduces the standard version, intact, with enough chunks of history of the Jamestyown colony to make it book-length. There is plenty of speculative padding: "she would have" and "she must have" are common phrases. John Smith is portrayed as a hero, and there is more about him in this book than about Pocahontas.
There is considerable emphasis on the trickery, savagery, and childish naivte of the Native people. And surely it should not still be necessary to point out that there has never been such a thing as an Indian king, queen, or princess?
It would serve no useful purpose to go through this book page by page separating fact from fantasy. Suffice it to say that Fritz has added nothing to the littl already "known" about Pocahontas, and that this little is treated with neither sensitivity nor insight. Review abridged from Through Indian Eyes 1992, by Beverly Slapin and Doris Seale
THE TWO-LEGGED CREATURE: AN OTOE STORY, retold by Anna Lee Walters, illustrated by Carol Walker. Children's book for all ages. Northland Publishing, P.O. Box 1389, Flagstaff, AZ 86002-1389, (800) 346-3257. 32 pp., $14.95 cloth. 0-78358-553-4
Walters, of Pawnee-Otoe descent, tells this richly metaphorical story of a time before there was man and cities and the world was ruled by animals who lived in harmony. When a two-legged creature came, the animals showed him how to live, and they taught him their universal language. After a time, Man began to act differently. He did not listen to them and began to criticize them. The animals decided not to have anything to do with Man, and Man began to treat them cruelly, killing many of them. At a meeting, the animals decide to abandon Man. Dog and Horse say that without some animals, Man will die. They say that they will go with Man and be his friend, and that is why the two are close to us today. The watercolor illustrations are bright earthy collages with borders of Native designs. Sadly, this story also parallels Native-White relations. "The Two-Legged Creature" is highly recommended. Reviewed by Steve Brock
Books by Anna Lee Walters available from Amazon.com.
A WALK TO THE GREAT MYSTERY by Virginia Stroud. Dial Books for Young Readers, 375 Hudson St., N.Y., NY 10014, (212) 366-2000, (212) 366-2666 FAX. 32 pp., $14.99 cloth. 0-8037-1636-2
In this second book by the award-winning artist and writer, Dustin and Rosie pay a visit to their grandmother, a Cherokee medicine woman who looks at things in a special way. She takes the children into the woods to look for the Great Mystery. At first they are confused, but eventually they understand that it is the spirit of life all around them, even inside them. An enlightening story about respect and tradition, illustrated with sun-washed acrylics where almost everything is circular. Why, though, are their faces so white? Grade: B+. Reviewed by Steve Brock
A Second Look: Their faces are white (pink actually) because that's Cherokee artist Stroud's style for all her highly stylized, appealing paintings and posters of Native children. These are available in fine-quality prints (signed) and unsigned posters from Toh-Atin gallery, Durango, CO, 800-525-0384. The $45-$100 first edition signed prints are probably too expensive for classrooms, but her posters, Joys of Snow, Sisterhood, Time to get Home (at $30) are high quality illustrations that show native life in a way many find appealing and children find very attractive. Smaller images (about 11 x 16) are also available for $25-$50. Some of the large prints are pictures from the above reviewed storybook (and other books Stroud has illustrated), while others are artwork that illustrates young people in a variety of daily life situations and tasks. Stroud is a former Miss Indian America who has gone on in life to make the most of her artistic talent. Her stylized Indian young people do not look in the least white. Artistic criticism should be avoided by those who are unable to see what an artist is doing. Stroud's pictures are deservedly loved in Indian country and are often seen on the walls of Indian schoolroomsand in reservation homes. I would rate the above book an A (if I thought that was a good way of reviewing), based on my own reaction to it, and that of quite a few Indian kids in ages from 9 to 14. It communicates well and beautifully something most of our kids are very interested in learning more about. By Paula Giese
Books by Virginia Stroud available from Amazon.com.
FALSE FACE, Welwyn Wilton Katz. New York : M.K. McElderry Books,1988. (Grades 6-9)
An exciting and well-told story of a white female teen (Lonny) and a mixed-blood male teen (Tom) who accidentally unearth an old Iroquois false face mask. However, the portrayal of the Iroquois and nonsense presented about the mask are way off base and very insulting. The author is obviously familiar with the locale of the story, and places on the Six Nations Reserve in Ontario are accurately described. However, this is a clear example of the phrase "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing". Katz conjures up a ridiculously evil power that is supposed to inhabit the false face mask and alter the personalities of characters who attempt to possess the mask. This personalities of characters who attempt to possess the mask. This goes beyond the wild fantasies of a creative author. False face masks are an integral part of traditional Iroquois religion practised today on the very reserve that Katz describes so well. Her description of the mask as an absolute evil amounts to religious intolerance and goes far in fostering the conception of native, non-Christian religions as savage pagan rituals. A very harmful book. Reviewed by Lisa Mitten and Naomi Caldwell-Wood
FULL MOON: INDIAN LEGENDS OF THE SEASONS, Lillian Budd. Chicago : Rand McNally, 1971. (Grades 4-6)
Budd has written these legends apparently without consulting any Native Americans. The stories are contrived and do not distinguish themselves as being from any particular culture let alone of general Native American origin. A book to avoid. Reviewed by Lisa Mitten and Naomi Caldwell-Wood
THE LEGEND OF JIMMY SPOON, Kristiana Gregory. San Diego : Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1990. (Grades 4-8)
Based on a true incident, this novel of a twelve year old Mormon boy taken to be the adopted brother of historical Chief Washakie is a mixture of historical accuracy and silly stereotype and ignorance. Use of the word "papoose" is constant, and Jimmy is continually harrassed by the hoshone about being white, even after two years of living with these people. This flies in the face of accounts of actual treatment of white adoptees. Several incidents of violence towards women and children have no basis in tribal cultures, and ring very false, as does much of the dialogue, which careens between "noble savage" stereotypes and modern English. Guess who speaks which? A book to avoid. Reviewed by Lisa Mitten and Naomi Caldwell-Wood
THE NIGHT THE WHITE DEER DIED, Gary Paulsen. New York :Delacorte Press, 1990. (Grades 6-10)
A rather murky, New Age type of story about Janet, a loner who dreams of a highly romanticized encounter with a handsome young Indian hunter (the "Noble Savage" stereotype) shooting a white deer. She comes to realize that the old drunken Indian she has seen in the marketplace is the man in the dream. Although beautifully written, especially the imagery and descriptions of the town and the surrounding geography, the Indian man and a Chicano schoolmate are very shallowly drawn. A book to avoid. Reviewed by Lisa Mitten and Naomi Caldwell-Wood
WIGWAM AND WARPATH: MINUTE STORIES OF THE AMERICAN INDIANS, Isabel Jurgens. New York : Grosset & Dunlap, 1936. (Grades 5-8)
Although this book provides biographical sketches of lesser known Native Americans, it is laden with condescending overtones and innaccurate information. Clearly not written by someone close to the subject. A book to avoid. Reviewed by Lisa Mitten and Naomi Caldwell-Wood
INDIAN IN THE CUPBOARD, Lynn Reid Banks. Garden City, NY :Doubleday, 1980.
Also the sequels Return of the Indian and The Secret of the Indian. To repeat the criticisms of the introduction, these are classic examples of highly acclaimed books riddled with horrendous stereotypes of Native Americans. Banks has created her "Indian" character from the mixed bag of harmful cliches so common among British authors.
The Indian in the Cupboard and its sequels are much-loved books by librarians and their patrons. But for Indian people, these are some of the worst perpetrators of the most base stereotypes. The miniature toy Indian (Indians portrayed as objects or things) is described as an Iroquois warrior, but is dressed as a movie western version of a generic plains Indian "chief", complete with eagle feather headdress. The warrior is described in the most stereotypical terms and speaks in subhuman grunts and partial sentences. He is manipulated by a more powerful white child, fostering the image of the simple and naive Indian whose contact with the white man can only benefit him and his people.
These books are perfect examples of what to avoid. Reviewed by Lisa Mitten and Naomi Caldwell-Wood
DRIFT, William Mayne. New York : Dell Yearling, 1985. (Grades 4-7)
A stranded-in-the-wilderness tale about white teen Rafe and Indian teen Tawena. Indian characters are grunting savages, even though Mayne has attempted to present a "sympathetic" treatment of the Indians and their concept of nature. Time period, place and Indians involved are unknown, and the storyline is rather murky. Mr. Mayne and the author of Indian in the Cupboard are from England. In general,books featuring Native peoples written by British authors tend to befull of quaint stereotypes and misperceptions. A book to avoid. Reviewed by Lisa Mitten and Naomi Caldwell-Wood
THE EAGLE'S SONG: A TALE FROM THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST, adapted and illustrated by Kristina Rodanas. Little, Brown and Company, 34 Beacon St., Boston, MA 02154, (800) 759-0190, FAX: (617) 890-0875. Illustrated. 32 pp., $15.95 cloth. 0-316-75375-0 Ages 8 - 12
When two Indian brothers try to hunt an eagle, they are changed into rivers "as icy as their hearts." A third brother tries to find them, and is also met by the same eagle, who turns into a man. The boy is taken to an ancient eagle woman, who tells him that her bounty will not continue unless the Indian people cease living in silence, begin sharing their abundance, and celebrating their blessings. This story of generosity, with its glowing landscapes in colored pencil and watercolor, is an inspiration, but readers will want to know more about the tribes and an author's note is nowhere to be found. Grade: B. Reviewed by Steve Brock
THE GIRL WHO SWAM WITH THE FISH: AN ATHABASCAN LEGEND, retold by Michelle Renner, illustrated by Christine Cox. Alaska Northwest Books, P.O. Box 10306, 3019 NW Yeon Ave., Portland, OR 92710, (800) 452-3032, (503) 223-1410. Illustrated. 32 pp., $15.95 cloth. 1- 88240-442-3 Ages 9 - 14
In this folktale, Renner tells two stories in one. The first, about a girl who falls into a river and is changed into a king salmon, teaches about the special relationship that Alaska natives have with the fish that honors them with its return to their fish camp. At the same time, readers will understand that life is cyclical and will only continue to be so if respected and not obstructed. The bold woodcut illustrations are cartoon like, but Cox's fish threaten to swim off the pages. Grade: B. Reviewed by Steve Brock
DANCE ON A SEALSKIN, story by Barbara Winslow, illustrations by Teri Sloat. Alaska Northwest Books, P.O. Box 10306, 3019 NW Yeon Ave., Portland, OR 92710, (800) 452-3032, (503) 223-1410. Illustrated. 32 pp., $15.95 cloth. 1-88240-443-1 Ages 9 - 14
Both the author and illustrator witnessed several potlatches as teachers of Yupik children in Alaska in the 1970s. Their story of Annie's performance of her first traditional dance as part of her coming-of-age ceremony that will formally signal her acceptance as part of the Yupik community, is an effective portrayal of an age- old custom that will be a welcome addition to Native American folklore collections in both libraries and homes. Grade: A. Reviewed by Steve Brock
EARTH DAUGHTER: ALICIA OF ACOMA PUEBLO by George Ancona. Simon and Schuster, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, N.Y., NY 10020, (800) 223- 2336, FAX: (212) 698-7007. Illustrated, glossary, author's note. 40 pp., $16.00 cloth. 0-689-80322-2 Ages 8 - 12
Ancona celebrates the family and culture of a Pueblo Indian girl, as she plays with friends around what is thought to be the oldest continuously inhabited pueblo in the United States, as she helps family members make and exhibit their stunning, distinctive pottery (Alicia enters her own pottery in children's competitions), and as she participates in traditional ceremonies such as feasts and dances. Though Ancona's story is somewhat idealized, it is told with affection and respect. Grade: A-. Reviewed by Steve Brock
THE EARTH UNDER SKY BEAR'S FEET: NATIVE AMERICAN POEMS OF THE LAND by Joseph Bruchac, illustrated by Thomas Locker. Philomel Books, 200 Madison Ave., N.Y., NY 10016, (800) 847-5515, FAX: (212 545- 1914). Illustrated, author's note. 32 pp., $15.95 cloth. 0-399- 22713-X, Ages 8 - 15/p>
"Listen, and I will share with you some of the stories the old people tell about what Sky Bear sees and hears through the night" -- Grandmother
To many tribes, Sky Bear is the Ursus Major (Big Dipper) constellation, and in this companion to "Thirteen Moons on Turtle's Back" (1992), Bruchac has collected thirteen songs and stories about what Sky Bear sees on the land he inspects each night: fireflies (Anishinabe), a family of mice (Winnebago), pinion trees (Chumash), an old wolf (Lakota), and others. Combined, these voices celebrate the night and reassure those that are fearful of it. Locker's radiant paintings add drama and detail to each scene. Grade: A. Reviewed by Steve Brock
Books by Joseph Bruchac available from Amazon.com.
KOKOPELLI'S FLUTE by Will Hobbs. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, N.Y., NY 10020, (800) 223-2336, FAX: (212) 698-7007. 156 pp., $15.00 cloth. 0-689-31974-6 Age 10 - YA
This fantasy, set amid the Anasazi cliff dwellings in northern New Mexico, finds Tepary Jones on a night hike to Picture House to watch a lunar eclipse. Once there, he discovers a group of pot hunters pillaging the ruin. After they hastily depart, the teen finds that they have left behind a flute carved from an eagle bone. Once he blows a few notes, he is overcome by strange powers from an ancient time that change him into a rat as soon as the sun slides over the horizon. Told from a strong environmental perspective, Hobbs' mesmerizing story brims with contemporary issues (such as the Hantavirus outbreak and the planting of ancient strains of seeds) and respect for native peoples. Grade: B+. Reviewed by Steve Brock
ONE NATION, MANY TRIBES by Kathleen Krull, photographs by David Hautzig. Lodestar Books, 375 Hudson St., N.Y., NY 10014, (800) 253-2304, (212) 366-2666 FAX. Illustrated, index, map, list of further readings. 48 pp., $15.99 cloth. 0-525-67440-3 Ages 9 - 15
Thirza Defoe and Shawnee Ford, Ojibwa students at the Milwaukee Indian Community Indian School (which is supported by the Potawatomi high-stakes bingo hall), describe what it's like attending a school that teaches drumming, traditional dancing, and traditional ceremonies in addition to math, computer science, and English. The unusual school, which admits students from many different tribes and stresses the similarities between them, is an appropriate example of gambling revenues put to a positive use. Also included in the book are sidebars relating Ojibwa history and Indian contributions to the world. Ages 8 - 12. Reviewed by: Steve Brock
AMERICAN INDIAN TRIBES, Marion E. Gridley. New York : Dodd, Mead & Co., 1974. (Grades 5-9)
Given the enormous task of covering all of the American Indian tribes, Gridley has written one of the better books on this subject. She divided the tribes into twelve categories and has only listed tribes considered to be distinct. Each tribe is discussed in terms of its past and current condition. Numerous photographs can be found. Biographical information about notable individuals in each tribe has been included Religion was not adressed in any detail. Reviewed by: Lisa Mitten and Naomi Caldwell-Wood
A BOY BECOMES A MAN AT WOUNDED KNEE by Ted Wood with Wanbli Numpa Afraid of Hawk. Walker and Company, 435 Hudson St., N.Y., NY 10014, (800) AT-WALKER, (212) 307-1764 FAX. Published simultaneously in Canada, Thomas Allen and Son Ltd, Markham, Ontario. 1992 Illustrated, map. 48 pp., $6.95 paper. 0-8027-7446-6. Clothbound also available.
Wanbli Numpa Afraid of Hawk, an eight-year-old Oglala Lakota from the Cheyenne River Reservation, recounts the story of the Wounded Knee massacre in 1890. On the 100th anniversary of the tragic event, the boy participates in a 150-mile journey, retracing the steps of Big Foot and braving temperatures of 50 degrees-below-zero to mend the sacred hoop. When the final ceremony is over, Wanbli Numpa is a Big Foot rider. Wood's photographs depict the riders braving the frigid conditions, offering prayers, and honoring the dead warriors. A powerful document, should be required reading in classes studying Native Americans. Ages: 10+ Grade: A. Reviewed by: Steve Brock
PG Note: There's a wonderful video of the first Wounded Knee winter Memorial ride of 1990, when the Bigfoot Riders were founded. See for more personal info about that from Arvol Looking Horse, one of the leaders. See Audio-Visual Page here for more info about it and how to order.
A second Look: Wanbli tells the story of the 6-day winter ride in his own words, which are eloquent. He goes on the l;ast of the 5 prophesied rides, the last being the 100th anniversary of the massacre. Wanbli is more sensible than I believe would be true of a white 8-year-old. "My dad and lala (grandpa) gatheed our horses form the pen where they had eaten and slept in the cold. Were they suffering like we were, I wondered?...We stayed on small dirt roads for a while because of all the fences on the farmland. We passed strange places with barbed wire and satellite dishes. My dad told me these were nuclear missle silos. It made me think of other people being killed in wars. In the beginning, Uncle Birgl told us to pray for wolakota (peace) and that masacres like Wounded Knee w0ould never happen again anywhere. When I saw those silos, I prayed." Later in the day, Wanbli's horse is spooked and he's thrown. H doesn't know if he can make it to the night's camp, " but my dad kept telling me that I could, that I had to. It was the only way to get back. Finally, far off on the plain, I saw the tepees....My uncle carried me to his truck to get warm. I stayed in there a few hours and ate, and got my strength back. Luyckily, my arm wasn't broken. I'd be able to ride again. In the evning after everyone ate, my mom, dad and I went to the big campfire to listen to stories. It was so cold we all wrapped up in one big blanket and got as close to the fire as we could." Wanbli decides without any parental pressure that he will not ride thenext day, when the riders must go down the Big Foot pass, an icy cliff trail. "If I got hurt adly, I couldn't finish th ride...it was better to rest up and be strong later. Everybody understood. I was disappointed but I wasn't ashamed." No one is hurt on the pass. Wanbli sees the small group of fasters, and the sweat lodge they are preparing. "I saw how strong our people could be and I felt honored to be a Lakota> I wanted to fast too, but I got too hungry." He checks on his horse and finds he's escaped from the field, but his dad tracks the horse 20 miles into the snowy Badlands and brings him back.
At the last night's camp, "Lakota men made big pots of Indian beef soup and fry bread. There was coffee, cake and sweet berry syrup. Usually, the women made the food for the riders, but that night the men were doing everything to honor the women for their strength and support. My mom, dad, sisters and I sat around a big fire with everybody else and ate. While we ate, uncle Birgil talked about the suffering and the honor of the women in the Lakota culture and the world. He talked about Grandmother earth too. He said the earth was suffering because we haven't taken care of her. He said we have to respect the earth, like our mothers. The earth was the very firstwoman, he said, the mother of us all After Birgil spok, every woman told a story about being a woman. Some were funny, some were sad, but all were honorable.
It's hard to stop quoting from this wondrful book. I should mention the photos by Ted Wood, co-author. These are in color, and appear on every page of the horizontally-designed 8 x 12 book. They give a good feeling for the cold on thee snowy ride -- Wanbli's face mask is entirely crusted with ice in one close-up. What I most wish for, for this book is that, now that 6 years have passed since the last of the 5 Wounded Kne memorial rides, Wanbli would write a sequel about how it has affected his life and that of others. That could be added to it, perhaps with words of some of the elders and women who participated. In the years since, the Big Foot Riders have been making a circuit of places in the U.S. and in recent years, Canada. This could be added. The rsulting book might receive the serious attention it deserves. This is the best Indian book I've read, for Native people of all tribes and all ages. It belongs in every Native home and school. It is worth 10,000 of the dreary "multicultural education" books about Native people generally written by white people, though that doesn't matter. Reviewed by Paula Giese
INDIAN SUMMER, Barbara Girion. New York : Scholastic, 1990. (Grades 5-8)
An excellent novel of the cultural adjustments Joni must make when she finds herself living on a modern "Woodlands" (i.e. Iroquois) reservation with her family in upstate New York one summer. Also manages to touch on a number of issues important to contemporary Iroquois, without being preachy. Girion does a fine job. Reviewed by: Lisa Mitten and Naomi Caldwell-Wood
Sioux or Dakota Nation / W.E. Rosenfelt. Minneapolis : T.S. Denison & Co., 1973. (Grades 4-6)
Rosenfelt collaborated with Ed McGaa, Oglala Sioux, and as a result we have a straightforward and sensitive text which strives for honesty. Unfortunately, illustrations are very mediocre pen and ink drawings; the text would have been much better served by photographs. Although the title implies an end to the Lakota Nation, Rosenfelt points out that the culture is very much alive. The section on religion is especially well-done. Highly recommended. Reviewd by: Lisa Mitten and Naomi Caldwell-Wood
A second Look: First, it's probably impossible to find; that company doesn't even exist any more. And that's just as well. Second, at the time it was written and for quite a few years afterwards, some of us who know him don't think Ed McGaa, then a Northwest Airlines pilot and involved in local real-estate politics (airport land,money, nothing to do with Native people) is sensitive or culturally knowledgeable. Many of us cannot foget he was the only Native person (there were dozens of SD white people) to testify in favor of the death penalty for Thomas White Hawk in South Dakota in 1970, not long before this so-called "sensitive" book was written.
Not long after it, McGaa was parlaying his financial expertise hustling hazardous waste disposal companies to go out to South Dakota and dump on Pine Ridge rez land, thus avoiding federal environmental regulations of hazardous waste. He was ahead of his time, but a good many Lakotas were ahead of him then, too; it didn't happen.
Lately, he has taken to promoting himself (now retired from NWA) as a spiritual elder. His latest literary production is a book about how to do a sweat-lodge by the numbers for New Agers. So it's guilt by association, or source, I guess, because I haven't actually seen this little book. If in fact it's sensitive or has any kind of authentic culture, that must have come from the non-Indian actual writer. Not a book to seek out, in short. McGaa is basically a rich former commercial pilot, much involved in real estate investments, who wants to be an Indian now that he's retired with plenty of money. During the time when South Dakota Pine Ridge Lakota were enduring a terrorism and death rate that amounted to a secret war on Native Pine Ridge families, McGaa was looking out for No. 1, And that was right when somebody wrote this book he put his name on. New Agers, now, like him fine, though. Paula Giese
North American Indian Medicine People
Watts has been putting out several fine nonfiction titles in series on American Indians, including aseries on different tribes for younger readers. These surveys ofcultural traits are representative, providing a balanced look at these areas of Native American knowedge. Reviewed by: Lisa Mitten and Naomi Caldwell-Wood
KATIE HENIO: NAVAJO SHEEPHERDER by Peggy Thomson, photographs by Paul Conklin. Cobblehill Books, 375 Hudson St., N.Y., NY 10014, (800) 331-4624, FAX: (212) 366-2666. Illustrated. 59 pp., $16.99 cloth. 1-525-65160-8
Thomson follows Katie, a member of the Ramah Navajo of west- central New Mexico, as she tends her flock of over 150 sheep: feeding them, protecting them from harm, shearing them, and weaving rugs. Katie also travels to Washington, D.C., for a "folklife" festival on the Capital Mall. Back in Ramah, she collects plants to make dyes and prepares her granddaughter for a coming-of-age ceremony. A respectful portrait of a hard-working and proud woman, who dreams of being "out at camp," where everything is in harmony. Grade: A. Reviewed by: Steve Brock
THE PEOPLE SHALL CONTINUE, Simon Ortiz. San Francisco :Children's Book Press, 415-995-2200, 1988, Available from The Mail Order Catalog, 800-695-2241. 24 pages hardcover, $13.95, paperback $6.95 (Grades 1-6)
Ortiz, a Pueblo poet, has written the best treatment available for young children in this succinct recounting of the interactions between the Native and non-native peoples of North America from Columbus to the present day. Illustrations are vibrant and bold, and the text is honest and clear. An important acquisition for the upcoming Columbus Quincentennary! Reviewed by: Lisa Mitten and Naomi Caldwell-Wood. See longer review by Doris Seale. mi216
Books by Simon Ortiz available from Amazon.com.
Pueblo Storyteller,Diane Hoyt-Goldsmith. New York : Holiday House, 1991. (Grades 3-6)
Ten-year old April of Cochiti Pueblo takesthe reader on a photographic visit through the pueblo, introducing himto her family, traditional methods of bread-baking, pottery-making and drum-making. She participates in a Buffalo Dance and tells the reader her favorite creation story. An excellent title to introduce children to the world of the contemporary reservation child. A superb complementary title, from a boy's perspective, is Pueblo Boy : GrowingUp in Two Worlds, Marcia Keegan. New York : Dutton, 1991. Reviewed by Lisa Mitten and Naomi Caldwell-Wood
A WOMAN OF HER TRIBE, Margaret A. Robinson. New York : Scribner's, 1990. (Grades 5-8)
Low-key story of Annette, whose white mother moves the two of them from Annette's deceased father's Nootka village to attend a private school in Vancouver where she's received a scholarship. Annette's transition to the city and the school is handled with sensitivity and understanding. The last third of the novel deals with Annette's return to her village over the Christmas break, where she realistically confronts her confusion over being both Nootka and white, and makes decisions about where she belongs. Reviewed by: Lisa Mitten and Naomi Caldwell-Wood
WHY THE NORTH STAR STANDS STILL AND OTHER (Paiute) INDIAN LEGENDS, William R. Palmer, Illustrated by William I. Palmer and Ursula Koering, Zion Natural History Association, Zion National Park, Springdale, UT 84767, 801-772-3256; 1946; 1978. 114 Pages, black and white illustrations, glossary of Paiute words, names, place names; Pauite Astronomy; Paiute time measurements; paperback $5.50, ages 8 - 16
Dr. Palmer in the 1930's became close to the Coal Creek Band of Paiutes. He helped thm regain some land and get some decent housing by negotiating with the federal and state authorities. For this, he says, he was adopted and "was permitted to sit around the campfires under the desert stars and hear the narro-gwe-nap (official storyteller) tell the sacred legends to the silent, reverent tribesmen in the um-pug-iva-Shinob (talks about god). These legends, many sacred, were given to me only after my solemn pledge that I would not make a book of them. The Paiutes did not want their traditions held up to ridicule. They did consent to my telling these legends to school children. Some of the Indians went with me to these gatherings and found that the reactions to the stories were good and that they made friends for the tribe. Finally, the Paiutes said I might make a book of them."
Dr. Palmer thanks a great many people for the stories and mentions "many of the younger ones, who, speaking better English than their parents, have served me as interpreters." they would be elders now.
The stories come across as strong, interesting, literate, and genuine. These are not "retold" homogenizations and not even the "as told to" sketches that one Canadian elder years ago described to me as "what we tell those anthropologists if we think they are sincere -- it is kind of like a library index card." These are the stories as actually told by and for the People, at sacred storytellings, around campfires. They have been translated with great care and fidelity by someone who just loved them for what they were -- not an anthro, not a Children's Book Author. Details of action, characterizations of animals, people, and deities, real plots, humor. The stories often "explain aspects of nature" that's true, but they usually have a human behavior teaching function as well. But this is not drawn out as a pointed moral, it is implicit in the story.
Palmer was a physician, not an anthro. He likes the stories and tells them "in all their freshness and charm" because he thinks they are being "overtaken by oblivion as the young Paiutes [of the '30's and '40's] lose interest in the beliefs of their people". That was true for most tribes in the 1940 - '60's period, but cultural recoveries began in the '70's, so today's elders -- yesterday's impatient youth -- have this cultural reserve to draw on. This book is very highly recommended. It's good reading, and the small piece on Paiute astronomy and time at the end is alone worth the bargain price. Sales of the book go to support educational activities at the park; the book was made over to the Association after Dr. Palmer's death by his children (who have illustrated it).
This is one of those obscure books that is not easy to find; I came on it in a second-hand bookstore, but checked and found it is still in print, and available from the Zion Park Association. If it is ever reprinted, I would like to see a better bio on Dr. Palmer giving some info about what happened with the Paiute Band's land; a map; some star maps correlated to the star stories and better and mor complete diagrams for the timekeeping system outlined at the end. A preface by some Paiute of the Coal Creek Band, bringing tribal history up to date would also add to the book's value. But without any of this, it is still the best collction of one tribe's stories that I've seen -- and I've seen quite a lot of them. Very highly recommended for schools and individuals. Reviewed by Paula Giese
The Story of Squanto, First Friend to the Pilgrims / Cathy East Dubowski. New York ; Dell Yearling, 1990. (Grades 4-8)
Of the many books for children on Squanto and the Pilgrims, we finally get a historically accurate biography of the Wampanoag survivor of the village of Patuxet who was so critical in the survival of this early group of colonials. New research being done in the Massachusetts coastal area lends detail and authenticity to the Indians/Pilgrims/Thanksgiving story that is typically couched in mythology and legend, especially in accounts for children. Nanepashemet, a Wampanoag Research Associate at Plimouth Plantation, also lent his expertise. A very well-balanced, realistic and entertaining biography. Reviewed by: Lisa Mitten and Naomi Caldwell-Wood
SWEETGRASS, Jan Hudson. New York : Philomel, 1989. (Grades 5-8).
A superb first book about a Blackfoot girl in the days just before heavy interaction with settlers by a Canadian author who has recently died. Dawn Rider, 1990, was a disappointing second work. Reviewed by Lisa Mitten and Naomi Caldwell-Wood
A second look: This winner of the 1984 Canada Council Children's Litrature Prize is downchecked by Native reviewer Doris Seale, who says it "may lack the overt racism of the Little House Books, say, or The Matchlock Gun, but it is demeaning and inaccurate in so many ways, I would not conisder it, even as an altrnative.". See her reasons in the long review.
Webmistress --Paula Giese. Text and graphics copyright 1996
CREDITS: The eagle started life as a real golden eagle photographed as he was being released from the Minnesota Raptor Center, much worked over with graphics utilities for the iridescent abalone-shell wing effect.
Last Updated: Tuesday, April 30, 1996 - 5:01:43 AM