Back in the 1990s when I started graduate school, I read Marcie Rendon's Powwow Summer: A Family Celebrates the Circle of Life. Originally published by Carolrhoda Books in 1996, I'm delighted to see that it is back in print. This time, it is a paperback published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press. Here's the cover:
Isn't it gorgeous? Powwow Summer is full of solid information about Native people of today. Its text and photographs are what captivated me when I first read it. It wasn't another book about long-ago-and-far-away-tribeless-stereotypical-Indians. As I turned each page, I learned a lot.
See, I'm tribally enrolled at Nambe Pueblo, in northern New Mexico. I grew up there. From my parents, grandparents, and elders, I learned about us and how we do things. That means the material things we do (cooking traditional foods) and the spiritual things we do, too (our dances are a form of prayer). My photo albums have photos of Nambe kids playing outside, helping their grandma's cook, and, photos of them in traditional clothing. I know a lot about who we are.
Marcie's book taught me about her people, which are the Anishinaabe (I met Marcie several years ago. See my review of her play, "SongCatcher: A Native Interpretation of the Story of Frances Densmore"). The text and photographs in Powwow Summer provide a depth of information that is tribally specific.
Marcie asks questions that help the reader frame the information within their own family context (p. 3):
Does your family have a ritual of going to church or synagogue every weekend? Does someone in your family play a sport, and do the rest of you attend to cheer that person on?If you're looking for top notch books to add to your shelves this month (November is Native American Month), include this one. (Note: Back in 1996 when I launched American Indians in Children's Literature, one of the first books I wrote about was Powwow Summer.)
Title: Powwow Summer
Author: Marcie Rendon
Illustrator: Cheryl Walsh Bellville
Publisher: Minnesota Historical Society Press