Thursday, March 15, 2007

Margaret Bruchac's MALIAN'S SONG

Editor's Note: This review used here with permission of Beverly Slapin at Oyate. It may not be published elsewhere without her written permission.

Bruchac, Margaret (Abenaki), Malian’s Song, illustrated by William Maughan. Vermont Folklife Center, 2005. Unpaginated, color illustrations, grades 4-up; Abenaki.

Malian's Song is neither myth, legend nor folktale, but a true account of the October 4, 1759, attack on the village of Odanack by Major Robert Rogers and his Rangers. Because the people were warned by one of Rogers' Mohican scouts, 32 of the villagers were killed, rather than the 200 later claimed by Rogers, but their homes were burned, and their stores of corn pillaged. This story has existed in the living traditions of Abenaki people for nearly 250 years, and Bruchac sets down this tragic event carefully and with great feeling. Young readers will see the loss and pain and sorrow, and they will also see how the people have continued, and do so still.

The illustrations are lovely. The people are dressed as they would have been in that day, in a combination of Native and English clothing. Maughan has beautifully drawn the close ties between family members and the strengths of each. The names are known: Malian was the young daughter of Simon Obomsawin; her cousin was Maliazonis. Malian's granddaughter was Mali Masadoques. In telling their story, Bruchac does them honor, and with respect for young readers.

This is Malian’s song:
"Nziwaldam, nziwaldam, anakwika ndodana
I am lonesome; I am lonesome; our village grows up to trees
Malian pihta oziwaldam, nda tomo widoba
Malian she is very lonesome; there is no friend anywhere.”
—Doris Seale

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