Indians of North America book cover

JUV PJF11.16MCK                

Indians of North America:  The Mohawk /The Choctaw & The Teton Sioux
Bonvillain, Nancy
McKee, Jesse O
Chelsea House
Jan 2005

Grade: 5-12
 

Rating:  Neutral

 

 

A wonderful forward written by Ada Deer,  (First woman to chair the Menominee Nation in Wisconsin and the first Native American woman to run for congress and win)  gives a glimpse of the Native perspective in today’s society.  Bonvillain and McKee give a very genuine researched effort to make this particular revised seven book series, on the larger tribes of the North American continent, one of the best available. (I contacted the three tribes Teton Sioux, Choctaw, and the Mohawk to get what they thought of the books.  The general consensus is: 

1) Each of our Resources libraries has a copy of this particular series. 

2) We often recommend the books to young researchers.  Because:

a) It has less errors than most of the others that have been published. 

b) It doesn’t say that the Indians came across the Bering Strait, which most Natives find to negate their beliefs and oral histories.

c) The Mohawk book at least mentions the mourning ceremony but leaves part of the story out that before Handsome Lake the ceremony was a year long not ten days. 

3) That the books are written from an outside perspective and written by anthropologists. 

a) This leads to miss interpretations of things that are important to the Native people.  For example:  If a Mohawk person would have written about Joseph Bryant there would have been more attention paid to the actions of Joseph Bryant, a man who almost made a political entity (the Iroquois Confederacy) collapse and then sold off most of their land.  The fact that the men in the Mohawk tribes were not in charge of the land and the women were would have been something very important to include.

b) Leads to important dates from the dominate society being incorporated into the Native American Time lines.  Example:  “1700 BC – 1200BC Ancestors of the Mohawks and other Iroquoian peoples migrate from the west and settled in the northeastern United States.”  I think that our oral histories/stories about how we were created would take precedent over migration.  1653 “Mohawks sign treaty of peace and friendship with the French.”  Events leading up to the treaty would be just as important to mention.  Why they would tribes sign agreements took away their freedoms, land and ways of life?

 The series is written in a very Euro-anthropological linear style (written in a very scientific way.  It seems as if the authors researched the tribes through documents written by both the United States Government agents or other Anthropologists/ethnographers, but didn’t talk to tribal people /historians to get the Native Point of View.  This would mean that the reader is getting a very Euro-American ethnocentric view of Native history and people that survived genocide.)  Readers can glean what life was and is for Native peoples of North America from a short section on prehistoric nomadic peoples living in 1700 B.C., to the peoples fight for sovereignty and living improvements in the twenty-first century.  Colored photos in the center of the book show the detailed crafts/handiwork of tribal members, while black and white photos show the people.  The book offers: a brief synopsis of the tribe in “at a Glance” section, a list of important European dates in the Chronology, a two and a half page glossary, more book and website information in the bibliography, a fairly lengthy index, and a brief biography on the contributors.

Marlette Grant-Jackson – ITEPP-CRC

More Resources

Choctaw Nation

American Passages

LIST of other books