Thursday, July 10, 2008

Betty Reid and Ben Winton's KEEPING PROMISES

Teachers and librarians looking for books to add to their reference and non-fiction shelf will find Keeping Promises: What is Sovereignty and other Questions about Indian Country especially useful.

The cover itself is worth the cost of the book. Each photo on the cover poses and answers a question about American Indians. In the center is a photograph of Native cheerleaders. On the right are two boys; one in street clothes, the other in traditional clothes. [Note: traditional clothes are not costumes. Think of it this way: the clothes you put on for special occasions are not costumes.] Bottom left is a photo of Jim Northrup and his grandson. Northrup writes a monthly newspaper column called Fond Du Lac Follies. He's also a veteran of the United States Marine Corp.

Inside are answers to the following questions:

  • Who is an Indian?
  • How many Indians live in the United States?
  • What is a tribe?
  • What is sovereignty?
  • How many reservations are there?
  • Can anyone buy and sell reservation land?
  • Who lives on reservation land?
  • What is the relationship between state governments and tribal governments?
  • Why can reservations have gambling if the states they are in don't allow it?
  • How do tribal governments work?
  • How do tribes work together?

There is a section called Between Nations that includes the following subsections:

  • How the idea of treaties developed
  • When Indians became wards of the government
  • Winning back sovereignty
  • The evolution of Indian political activism

Most Americans think American Indians were primitive and not very smart. That is not true! Books like Keeping Promises can help you and the children you work with understand who American Indians were (and are). With that information, you (and students) are better able to discern stereotypical and biased presentations of American Indians in children's books.

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