Tuesday, March 10, 2009

YUROK, by Barbara A. Gray-Kanatiiosh


[Editor's Note: This review may not be published elsewhere without the written permission of Marlette Grant-Jackson at Humboldt University. She is the Curriculum Resource Coordinator and Student Services Advisor at Humboldt's Indian Teacher & Educational Personnel Program.]

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Yurok
by Barbara A. Gray-Kanatiiosh
ABDO publishing 2007
32 pages
K-5

Not worth its weight in Dentilium.

Another easy-reference children's book series on Native American Indians that gives children misguided information in regards to a people who are still here. The subject headings: Original homelands, Society, Homes, Food, Clothing, Crafts, Family, Children, Myths, War, Important Members, Contact with Europeans, and the Tribe or Nation Today, are cookie cutter patterns for at least four sets of ten books on many known tribes.

In past tense the book tells you some information about the Yurok people, but doesn't acknowledge that we are still a living breathing culture living in our traditional territory, in northwest California. Our territory spans from the mouth of the Klamath to the confluences of the Klamath and Trinity Rivers and from Crescent City to Trinidad. Yurok members live all around the world, but all members know where their ancestral home is. Or that we still fight to this day to exercise our sovereign rights, including fishing and hunting rights. It would have been nice to see a contemporary Yurok person as an example in the Important Member section, such as Sue Masten – past tribal chair, and political proponent for the Yurok tribe or Ray Mattz who has been instrumental in keeping our ancestral fishing rights.

A conversation with the Tribe's language specialists would have guided the author to understand that there is more than one word we use to refer to ourselves Puel lik-lah which means down river people, or Oohl – which refers to Indian people, the word chosen in the book is Olekwo’l which would have been used in pre-human times and not used today. As for identifying oneself as in an introduction it is based on which ancestral village or area the person's family is from and their family names. I'm sorry to say but this book is not worth the $18.85 that is being charged and I am sorry to see that the oppression has now become internalized, for the book is being written by a Native. Even the website to find out more about Yuroks is www.abdopublishing.com , instead of the actual tribal page http://www.yuroktribe.org.

Illustrator David Kanietakeron Fadden has given this book a look of authenticity with his detailed renderings of the culture, people and life style. Mr. Fadden did take the time to make his artwork reflect our patterns, homes, and regalia, but not necessarily the diversity of color variation among our people within his drawings.

The photo’s in the book could have used some extra information.
  • On the cover a current photo of a young Yurok girl in ceremonial regalia is used without reference to who she is, just the name of the photographer and the site the photo was bought from.

  • On page 29 a cropped Associated Press photo of a 2004 ceremony for the Return of Indian Island to the Wiyot Tribe shows a close up of Ty Allen in full female regalia and the caption reads “Today, the Yurok continue to observe ceremonies. Ty Allen is a Yurok-Karok Indian. In 2004, he participated in a ceremony for the return of sacred land to the Wiyot Tribe.”

  • On page 30 there is a picture of a non-Yurok man in traditional plains regalia and the caption reads “This Yurok man rides a horse during a festival. He is dressed in traditional ceremonial clothing.” The regalia and man are NOT Yurok, this promotes the Hollywood stereotypes.


There are so many things wrong with the book that if I were to address each of them here I would re-write the book for the author. Hmmm maybe that's what we should do is write our own book for our own children??

to' kee kem ney-wu-chek.
(I will see you later)
Marlette Grant-Jackson

2 comments:

serrana said...

On page 29 a cropped Associated Press photo of a 2004 ceremony for the Return of Indian Island to the Wiyot Tribe shows a close up of Ty Allen in full female regalia and the caption reads “Today, the Yurok continue to observe ceremonies. Ty Allen is a Yurok-Karok Indian. In 2004, he participated in a ceremony for the return of sacred land to the Wiyot Tribe.”

Oh, dear. You'd think they could have picked up the phone. Or looked at the picture.

And, hey, as a parent in the Pacific Northwest who would really, really like to see some tribal-authored resources for young kids -- please do! I have been looking for material for our region and finding so little that's not obviously flawed. I'm up in the Willamette Valley and we have some good stuff for high school-aged kids but very little for the elementary grades.

Anonymous said...

So very glad to see your review which echoes my utter distress upon reading this author's book about my tribe,"Pawnee". Your so very accurate phrase "misguided information" totally reflects what was said about my people.
It inflames me to keep on keeping on with my writing. Sadly, this author seems to have penetrated the juvenile market with her many books on tribes which may continue the same-old, same-old inaccuracies with enough truisms and platitudes to deflect slings and arrows.