Middle School (9 - 14) Books

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

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Native American BOOKS, text and graphics copyright Paula Giese, 1996

Last Updated: Monday, March 11, 1996 - 11:37:17 AM