Tuesday, January 07, 2020


This is a long overdue "Debbie--have you seen" post! Last year I was asked about Jumping Mouse: A Native American Legend of Friendship and Sacrifice by Misty Schroe. My apologies for this delay!

Back in 1985, John Steptoe's The Story of Jumping Mouse: A Native American Legend came out. The Caldecott Committee selected it as an honor book. In my copy, I see this:
The Story of Jumping Mouse, a story from Seven Arrows copyright 1972 by Hymeyohsts Storm. Retold and illustrated for children copyright 1984 by John Steptoe.
People in Native networks know that Storm is a fraud. Indeed, Native media and scholars have written about Storm's fraudulent claims to Native identity (see 5 Fake Indians: Checking a Box Doesn't Make You Native by Dr. Dean Chavers in Indian Country Today and "The Ruins of Representation: Shadow Survivance and the Literature of Dominance" by Gerald Vizenor in American Indian Quarterly, volume 17, #1, Winter 1983).

What we have in Steptoe's book is his retelling of a retelling from an unreliable source. What is in this new telling of that story?

Well, there's an introduction available online. There, the author says that she heard this story from her mother, "Laughing Bird." So--where did Laughing Bird hear it?

At her author's page, Schroe says she's "almost a fourth Crow from the Sioux nation." Hmm. That doesn't make sense to me but I'll look for more info.

The Publisher's Weekly review notes that there is no source for the story, and that there is no specific tribal nation mentioned anywhere in the story. That same problem is pointed out by the review at School Library Journal. And, Kirkus notes it, too! That is terrific!

I've got a copy on order and will be back when I get it, but for now, I have doubts that it will be on AICL's recommended lists.

1 comment:

Sam Jonson said...

That "New Age" stuff that Hymeyohsts Storm did...Debbie, I know you've mentioned in the past, and I'll quote:

"Most Native peoples do not write accounts that delve deeply into our respective spiritual or religious ceremonies. We guard all of that from people who want to appropriate it, or use it in ways that are harmful to us."

"[C]eremonies are not something we disclose. There are reasons for that, including the fact that our religious ceremonies[...]were outlawed by the US government. Another is that people who are searching for identity and meaning in their lives gravitate to Native peoples and 'go Native' in superficial ways that are harmful to Native peoples."

"What [too many non-Native writers have] written has become what publishers expect books about Native peoples to look like. The end result of that expectation is that Native writers who submit manuscripts to publishers get rejected again and again because they don't have ceremonies in their manuscripts! The fact is, Native writers are protecting their ceremonies by NOT writing about them. Meanwhile, non-Native writers churn out books that include those ceremonies--or their imaginings of them."

With all that, I'm very surprised that no non-Natives (fraudsters or otherwise) have ever come up with books or websites titled Native American Rituals and Traditions "They" Don't Want You to Know About.

Because boy-oh-boy, would that be cringe-worthy.