Young Adults Books

TOUCHING THE FIRE: BUFFALO DANCING, THE SKY BUNDLE, AND OTHER TALES by Roger Welsch. Fawcett Columbine, 201 E. 50th St., N.Y., NY 10022, (800) 638-6460, (212) 572-6030 FAX. 295 pp., $10.00 paper. 0-449-90869-0

Stories and myths of a fictional tribe called the Turtle Creek Nehawkas, loosely based on those of several Nebraska tribes (notably the Omaha, Pawnee, and Lakota). Welsch, adopted into the Omaha tribe in 1967 as Tenuga Gahi - Bull Buffalo Chief, relates the unwritten Nehawka history, the tribe's religious beliefs, and its sacred bundle: the artifacts, songs, and dances, which give the tribe its identity, the sanctity of which Anglos continue to violate. Some of the stories are tragic, some are uplifting, some are bursting with satiric wit, and all have been going on forever. Highly recommended. Reviewed by Steve Brock

A second Look: In general, combined intertribal myths or legends distort whatever cultural knowledge is conveyed by the original. Here the author was forced to even make up a tribe, so as not to impose his distortions on existing ones. The purpose of cultural learning is not served. Myths and legends are not merely raw matrial for any storywriter lacking ideas of his own. Not recommended. -- Paula Giese

File: ya319

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

Last Updated: Wednesday, March 13, 1996 - 7:19:04 AM