Saturday, January 07, 2017

Dear Teachers: Do You Teach Joseph Boyden's THREE DAY ROAD?

Editors note: Saturday, January 13, 2017. Scroll down to the very bottom of this post to see links to reviews of Boyden's books, written by Native people from the communities a book is about.  

January 7, 2017

Dear Teachers,

I know that some of you assign Joseph Boyden's Three Day Road to students in your high school classes. Some of you may be doing author studies of him. This letter and information I share beneath the letter, in two parts, is for you, and for anyone who is interested in discussions of Boyden's identity. It is an archive of items about Joseph Boyden's identity.

I'm a former school teacher, too. I particularly enjoyed reading aloud to the kindergarten and first graders I taught in the 90s, and teaching kids about the authors and other books they wrote. I'm not teaching anymore. Now, I research and write articles and book chapters about the ways Native peoples are depicted in children's and young adult books. And, I publish this site, American Indians in Children's Literature, which is now in its eleventh year.

In 2014, I learned about a writer named Joseph Boyden. A novel he'd written, The Orenda, was in Canada Reads, which is an annual battle-of-the-books competition. The Orenda was being defended by Wab Kinew. I'd become familiar with Kinew's work via social media. Always on the look-out for books I can recommend, I looked into Boyden and saw that his first book, Three Day Road was in the Canada Reads competition in 2006, when it came out. He was being put forth as a Native writer. I got Three Day Road. I was drawn into the story and thought I might write about it here on AICL. I wanted to know more about Boyden. So, I read Hayden King's review of Orenda. He had concerns with Boyden's depictions of the Haudenosaunee. I started looking around some more and talking with colleagues. I learned that there were a lot of questions about Boyden's claim to Native identity. What I saw was enough for me to set aside Three Day Road. I didn't finish it and didn't write about it.

On December 22, 2016, I saw a series of tweets from the IndigenousXca account. That week, the IndigenousXca host was Robert Jago. I learn a lot by following that account. Each week, there's a new host. I was the host in March. Jago's tweets that night were about Joseph Boyden's identity. The next day, Jorge Barrera, a reporter with Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, published a news article about Boyden. Jago and Barrera's work prompted many discussions on social media, and, many more articles and news segments.

This "Dear Teachers" letter is a place for me to archive what I've seen about Boyden and identity.

Part One of my archive started as a thread on Twitter that I added to whenever I saw something that added to the discussion. Rather than re-create the thread, I'm pasting it directly from a Storify I did. I hope that all the links work, though some may not. People delete tweets, and sometimes their entire account. Beneath the Storify is part two.

Part Two is items I'm entering as I see them. It is "in process" -- because new items are published in the media, or on social media (primarily Facebook and Twitter), almost daily.

I hope it is useful. If you see something somewhere that you wish to share, please submit it via the comments option at the bottom.

Thank you,
Debbie Reese
American Indians in Children's Literature

_______________

An Archive: 

Joseph Boyden's Claims to Indigenous Identity


Part One: A Storify by @debreese, from Dec 24, 2016 through Jan 3, 2017 (apologies for formatting errors that occurred when I pasted the storify)

Joseph Boyden: Native? Or not?

On Christmas Eve 2016, Jorge Barrera of APTN published an article on Joseph Boyden's identity. I began tweeting my thoughts, and links to threads/posts/articles on Boyden. I'll add to this Storify as additional items appear. (Last update: Jan 1, 2016, 8:25 AM)
  1. Did you read @APTN article on Joseph Boyden's identity and are you seeking more rdgs to help you understand Native views on identity?
  2. This is, in kid/YA lit, what is called #OwnVoices. It gets very complicated, quickly, for many peoples, including us (Native ppl).
  3. Here's the APTN article, for those who haven't seen it: "Joseph Boyden's Shape-Shifting Identity"  http://aptn.ca/news/2016/12/23/author-joseph-boydens-shape-shifting-indigenous-identity/ 
  4. Yesterday and today, many Native ppl on Twitter are talking about Boyden and identity. Read their convos but pls refrain from jumping in.
  5. Read, listen, think, to what they're saying. See @apihtawikosisan's TL; here's two of her tweets:  https://twitter.com/apihtawikosisan/status/812384479675371520 
  6. See Robert Jago's video (tweeting this week from @IndigenousXca) which kicked off the APTN article:  https://twitter.com/IndigenousXca/status/812105288300056582 
  7. Another person on Twitter who is tweeting about Joseph Boyden is Darryl Leroux.  https://twitter.com/DarrylLeroux/status/812353859926577152 
  8. My area of research/writing is kid/YA lit. As a former teacher, I know that "author studies" are a much-loved unit in schools.
  9. Teachers ask students to read other bks by a specific author, works abt that author's life, etc., to deepen what they know that author/bks.
  10. Still, after all these years, so much ignorance about Native identity, claims to it, why it matters. So many don't know that...
  11. ... Jamake Highwater, who won a Newbery Honor for ANPAO, was a fake. He wasn't Native. So many don't know Forrest Carter is a fake, too.
  12. So many libraries have Forrest Carter's EDUCATION OF LITTLE TREE in autobiography section! At the very least, it should be in fiction.
  13. Adoption into a Native family is a real thing, but it doesn't mean that Paul Goble can say he's Native.
  14. There's a lot of writing abt "Forrest Carter." I write abt him/EDUC OF LITTLE TREE at my site & link to others:  https://americanindiansinchildrensliterature.blogspot.com/search?q=education+of+little+tree 
  15. I don't think Joseph Boyden has written for kids or teens. I did find an article from 2007 about a planned bk but can't find it.
  16. We need to acknowledge how problematic Boyden invoking an elder as retrospective proof of his indigeneity.
  17. The guy asserts he's 1/2 a dozen different kinds of Indian. If you've been adopted, great, but then that's your people.
  18. His invocation of an elder, who has passed, reeks of grasping at straws. Which is so despicable.
  19. The truth is that Joseph Boyden is the archetype of what white ppl want native ppl to be. He makes white ppl so comfortable. They love him.
  20. Still adding to my thread on Boyden. On Christmas Eve, he posted a response to APTN: https://t.co/4aVu9Gx7v4 https://t.co/EjH0VYTsBN
    Still adding to my thread on Boyden. On Christmas Eve, he posted a response to APTN:  https://twitter.com/josephboyden/status/812798846438928384  pic.twitter.com/EjH0VYTsBN
  21. ...what's a poor bestselling author with a highly variable ancestral genealogy to do?
  22. Well one thing is clearer, even Boyden isn't claiming he's Metis anymore. There's consensus on that now.
  23. On Christmas Day (afternoon/evening) news outlets began to publish a short article, by Nicole Thompson:  http://www.ctvnews.ca/entertainment/author-joseph-boyden-defends-indigenous-heritage-after-investigation-1.3217325 
  24. As I noted on Day 1 of my thread on Boyden, Native people-on Twitter & Facebook-have been talking about Boyden's claims to Native identity.
  25. People who like Boyden think Native people are jealous, unfair, mean, etc. There's a lot of sympathy for him as an individual.
  26. Lot of ppl, in other words, rallying to his defense, embracing him/the story of how he came to identify as Native.
  27. Where, though, were those rallying cries for the Choctaw Nation when a Choctaw child was being returned to her Choctaw family?
  28. Native ppl following my thread know what I'm talking abt. If you're a Boyden fan following my thread, you may not know what I'm talking abt.
  29. Here's a news story re the Choctaw child with info you need, if you're going to be informed re identity:  https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/native-news/icwa-lexi-to-remain-with-utah-family-in-appeals-court-ruling/ 
  30. Most of you likely read mainstream media that failed in its responsibility to provide you with info abt sovereignty & our status as nations.
  31. The Choctaw child has clear lineage. There is no question re her identity or her family. Yet, the public said she was not Indian enough.
  32. Native ppl are asking Boyden "who are your people" and "who is your family" but he cannot give clear answers.
  33. He has an uncle who played Indian but denied being Indian. Indeed, as the @APTN article showed, that man delighted in fooling ppl.
  34. I linked to the ATPN article way back in this thread. Here it is again, for your convenience:  http://aptn.ca/news/2016/12/23/author-joseph-boydens-shape-shifting-indigenous-identity/ 
  35. As noted earlier, Native people are using social media to talk with each other abt Boyden's claims. I've linked to some, in this thread...
  36. Here's a new thread from Robert Jago, who--this week--has been tweeting from @IndigenousXca https://twitter.com/IndigenousXca/status/813236288983801857  His first thread...
  37. ...on Boyden, claims to Native identity, and who can tell our stories, was on Dec 22nd from the @IndigenousXca acct:  https://twitter.com/IndigenousXca/status/812095345912119300 
  38. Jago used numbered (rather than threaded) tweets. You'll need to go to that Dec 22nd tweet and read up from there. I urge you do that!
  39. Last night, scholar and writer, @justicedanielh did an excellent thread in response to those who think that asking these questions...
  40. ... re Boyden and identity, is wrong. Here's @justicedanielh thread:  https://twitter.com/justicedanielh/status/813270135674961920  Also! Follow Daniel, and read his writings.
  41. I see, in this video from 2009, that high school students were assigned Boyden's THREE DAY ROAD:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4CbgGD16X_E 
  42. In an article, I saw that Boyden said Trump is a trickster. That led me to this:  https://twitter.com/danrueck/status/796722282727096320 , which is evidence that...
  43. ... ppl have had questions abt Boyden's claims for awhile. In some interviews, Boyden said that it is only white ppl that question...
  44. ... and that Native people don't question his identity. That is not accurate. In Native circles, ppl have had this q for a long time.
  45. As I read articles/tweets abt Boyden's claims, I understand that feeling of being betrayed by someone who said they're Native. We know...
  46. ... that Native doesn't mean dark hair/skin/high cheekbones. We know it is about citizenship or membership, abt being claimed by a nation.
  47. I have given people the benefit of the doubt, and then felt horribly betrayed when truths about their claims were brought out.
  48. When I was on faculty at U Illinois, we got burned, twice, by ppl who we hired because we trusted their claim to Native identity.
  49. The first was Andrea Smith, who claimed to be Cherokee. She had claimed that identity for years and had cred with key scholars.
  50. The second was David Anthony Clark, who said he was Meskwaki (Sac and Fox.) Those two cases led us to write this:  http://www.ais.illinois.edu/research/identity-and-academic-integrity 
  51. Woah. Robert Jago pointed to a 2011 article where Boyden is talking about how he is two spirit.... https://t.co/hNUIWkL7A1 https://t.co/rbh0db4EAp
    Woah. Robert Jago pointed to a 2011 article where Boyden is talking about how he is two spirit....  https://twitter.com/IndigenousXca/status/813351440764796928  pic.twitter.com/rbh0db4EAp
  52. I have compassion for Native people who were taken from their families and communities and are holding on to that identity, looking for...
  53. ... their family, their community, their nation. As adults, Smith, Clark, and Boyden read/studied writings on these takings, these policies.
  54. They "know the score" so to speak, on identity and claims to Native identity. They know what it means to make those claims.
  55. Boyden said ppl mis-heard him when he said he is Nipmuc. Did he not ask those who misrepresented his identity to correct their error?
  56. Here's an example that @jeffdberglund shared earlier today. It is interview from 2005 where reporter said Mi'kmaq.  https://twitter.com/jeffdberglund/status/813486325848424448 
  57. This is the most painful thread on Boyden and his claims to Native identity, the ways he's been navigating...  https://twitter.com/apihtawikosisan/status/813503205057449984 
  58. If you're reading tweets abt Boyden, you're probably seeing some from ppl who think he can take a DNA test and "settle" this. But, ...
  59. ... that suggestion shows ignorance on part of person making it. DNA testing will not help. Earlier today, @KimTallBear did a long...
  60. ... thread on her experiences w ppl's expectations re Native identity. She also said that a DNA test...
  61. ... wouldn't help re Elizabeth Warren. Same holds true for Boyden:  https://twitter.com/KimTallBear/status/813475847466319872 
  62. Boyden's THREE DAY ROAD is a WWI story. If you want an alternative, from ppl who are Native, w/o question, get...
  63. Good morning (12/27/16)! Ppl in my networks continue to talk abt Joseph Boyden, his claims to Native identity, & why it matters. I am...
  64. ...reading/thinking abt what I read as people weigh in or add to what they've previously said. Here's @innes_rob  https://twitter.com/innes_rob/status/813532328538406912 
  65. Earlier in this long thread on Boyden, I pointed to @adamgaudry. Yesterday he took a look at Boyden's uncle, who Boyden references...
  66. ... a lot, as a means to prove his identity. @adamgaudry's TL on that uncle is excellent:  https://twitter.com/adamgaudry/status/813591251547103232 
  67. Way back in this thread, I asked ppl to read, think, and NOT to jump in to defend Boyden. Course, his fans have been jumping in everywhere!
  68. In response to Boyden's fans, @justicedanielh did a thread last night that I rec you read:  https://twitter.com/justicedanielh/status/813581012827598848 
  69. I'll add some thoughts to what Daniel said. If you're not Native or don't read Native news or lit crit of bks abt Native ppl, you're...
  70. ... entering these conversations from a place of ignorance of why identity matters to us. We enter the convo with context that...
  71. ... goes back hundreds of years. For me, it is the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. Catholics/Spanish tried to wipe us/our ways out. We resisted.
  72. You've been educated/socialized to think we were primitive, savage, violent, etc., but we weren't. Some yrs back I started rdg Boyden's...
  73. ... THREE DAY ROAD. It was compelling, but I set it aside. That was when ORENDA came out. I read Native criticism of ORENDA.
  74. Recently, I read an interview w Boyden. He was asked abt the criticism. I think he misrepresented the criticism, and thereby, dismissed it.
  75. Concerns, as I understood them, were that he affirmed the stereotypical idea of Native ppls as savages. Boyden said that the violence...
  76. ... in his bk was just a few pages. In essence, he denied the fact that those few pages dovetail with the massive, existing imagery of...
  77. ... Native ppl as violent and barbaric. He fed the white expectation. Native ppl said WTF, Boyden, but he waved them away.
  78. Earlier in this thread, I've pointed you to Chelsea Vowel's TL. I've learned a lot from. Get her book. https://t.co/HVdQ3Hf5mH https://t.co/UA4VjcPRB9
    Earlier in this thread, I've pointed you to Chelsea Vowel's TL. I've learned a lot from. Get her book.  http://www.portageandmainpress.com/product/indigenous-writes/ pic.twitter.com/UA4VjcPRB9
  79. 12/28/16, morning: More to add to thread I started 5 days ago on Joseph Boyden. Here's Audra Simpson's comments:  https://twitter.com/RedIndianGirl/status/813859775092035585 
  80. Last night, ppl were sharing a Litopedia interview. Titled "Joseph Boyden: Who Are You, Really?", it was taped 3 yrs ago, and because...
  81. ... of the APTN article on Boyden, the Litopedia team decided to share it. Here's the link:  https://litopia.com/joseph-boyden-who-are-you-really/ 
  82. Boyden walked out of that interview, about halfway thru the 30 minute segment. It is all on the tape... I don't know the show or the...
  83. ... hosts, but Boyden clearly was not enjoying that interview. If the hosts are always provocative, Boyden shouldn't have agreed to be on!
  84. When @Litopia shared the segment yesterday, they included some context: https://t.co/AC9fuRvA4k
    When @Litopia shared the segment yesterday, they included some context: pic.twitter.com/AC9fuRvA4k
  85. Here's a short thread @Litopia did when Boyden walked out of the interview:  https://twitter.com/litopia/status/403532481489424384 
  86. Reporters are tweeting to Boyden, asking him to call them so they can do interviews w him abt this. He's in a hotseat of his own making.
  87. I've also seen a lot of tweets from Ernie Cray. Last night, he was interviewed abt Boyden:  http://www.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=1024376&playlistId=1.3218874&binId=1.810401&playlistPageNum=1&binPageNum=1  He's defending Boyden.
  88. Typo in that last tweet! The man's name is Ernie Crey. His defense of Boyden strikes me as naive. Crey is chief of a FN. I wonder...
  89. ... would Crey feel that way if Boyden was claiming to be Cheam?
  90. There's another dimension to the Boyden mess that I haven't included in this thread: Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
  91. Boyden, as some know, has a high profile and is often asked to deliver lectures on issues specific to Native people.
  92. He wrote an open letter re investigation/firing of writer, Steven Galloway. @ZoeSTodd was interviewed abt it here:  http://www.quillandquire.com/omni/qa-zoe-todd-on-rape-culture-canlit-and-you/ 
  93. That article in The Walrus is by its editor in chief, who I think is pretty ignorant.
  94. So... major media in Canada is paying attn. I haven't seen anything in US papers. Boyden is on faculty in New Orleans.
  95. The editor at The Walrus really needs to do some reading. He could start with Kim @KimTallBear's thread:  https://twitter.com/KimTallBear/status/814165113225834496 
  96. In November, Boyden compared Trump to a trickster. He says some pretty messed up/ignorant things. https://t.co/jzkaAJA5nf
    In November, Boyden compared Trump to a trickster. He says some pretty messed up/ignorant things. pic.twitter.com/jzkaAJA5nf
  97. Earlier today I pointed to an interview Ernie Crey did re Boyden. Here's a response to his points, from @ZoeSTodd https://twitter.com/ZoeSTodd/status/814185179698888704 
  98. And, looks like there will be a radio segment (or is it TV?) on Boyden tonight:  https://twitter.com/LorenMcGinnis/status/814195607610888192 
  99. Is any native man actually employed as a writer at the Globe, Star, Sun, or Post?  https://twitter.com/genrysg/status/814464200714153986 
  100. Article in Bustle points to controversies in young adult lit. Boyden's THREE DAY ROAD wasn't marketed as being for young adults, but...
  101. ... given that it is assigned in high schools, I think news stories re Boyden's claims to Native identity is #7 in Bustle article...
  102. Here's the Bustle article on controversies in young adult lit.  https://www.bustle.com/articles/198750-the-worst-book-controversies-of-2016-and-what-to-read-in-response  Three of the 6 are abt Native content.
  103. Long thread by @debreese on Native identity.  https://twitter.com/debreese/status/812673387415932929  Upshot: relevant Q not "what's your DNA?" but "what nation claims you?"
  104. The more I items I read abt Boyden, the more I cringe. See @duane_linklater's account here: https://t.co/uhhzuT3usq This is 1st paragraph: https://t.co/HZKN8fDIcM
    The more I items I read abt Boyden, the more I cringe. See @duane_linklater's account here:  http://www.duanelinklater.com/  This is 1st paragraph: pic.twitter.com/HZKN8fDIcM
  105. Joseph Boyden is his uncle Erl: a white person who dresses up like he's a Native person, and performs for White people.
  106. Erl put on a headdress and stood by a tipi. Joseph Boyden puts on words. Performing Indians. Basking in adulation. And yes, doing harm.
  107. Who is asked to write abt Boyden, and why, is an imp aspect of this mess. @justicedanielh lays it out here:  https://twitter.com/justicedanielh/status/814532448595738624 
  108. ... its headline. In original, they used "lynching" but have since taken it out. It still shows, tho, in the URL. https://t.co/UVBoLXxORX
    ... its headline. In original, they used "lynching" but have since taken it out. It still shows, tho, in the URL. pic.twitter.com/UVBoLXxORX
  109. Early today @tuckeve wrote to Globe and Mail about their use of "lynching" -- here's her tweet abt it:  https://twitter.com/tuckeve/status/814484764254212097 
  110. Info I'm tweeting in this thread on Boyden comes from what I see in a twitter search using his name. But also from ppl I follow, such as...
  111. Boyden is far from the first--or last--person to go into a Native community, do research, and walk away and publish things w/o permission.
  112. There's several examples, here in the US, of white writers teaching or hanging out in Native communities, and then writing stories abt...
  113. ... that community, and in an Author's Note, talking abt how they were asked to do that, or, abt how they're donating % of profit to...
  114. ... a Native org. They--and their pals--think that makes them look good, like they're generous. Reality: that's grotesque exploitation.
  115. When I point that out, friends of those white people flock to my blog and defend those writers. Those writers get spun as the victim.
  116. And, those writers and their editors whisper "Debbie Reese hates white people." It'd be amusing if there weren't so many of them out...
  117. ... there, consoling each other and doing the same old thing year after year.
  118. Do make sure you read Lenny Carpenter's post on Boyden.  https://lennyshish.wordpress.com/2016/12/30/boyden-i-discovered-a-gold-mine-on-james-bay/  Boyden saying he discovered a gold mine... WTF.
  119. Ah! Check out this article abt f'ed up headline in Globe and Mail abt Boyden being "lynched."  https://www.pressprogress.ca/the_globe_and_mail_has_officially_published_canada_worst_headline_of_2016  h/t @KimTallBear
  120. Boyden, his claims, and ppl who feel compassion for him getting challenged are causing harm they either don't understand or care about...
  121. See this thread, from @FancyBebamikawe. Read with care, and think, about what she's saying:  https://twitter.com/FancyBebamikawe/status/814621803842859008  and then revisit...
  122. ... that love-of-Boyden. That love is in the way, causing hurt and pain, perpetuating ignorance, exploitation.
  123. 5 AM, Dec 30, 2016: Convo's re Joseph Boyden's claim to Native identity continue. First item I read today is by Jordan Wheeler...
  124. I've seen tweets that q's re Boyden's claims may hurt those who were taken from family. This thread addresses that:  https://twitter.com/CotySavard/status/814639276759531520 
  125. "What Colour is Your Beadwork, Joseph Boyden" asks @RMComedy:  https://t.co/4L5g9a7nUE Ryan McMahon's piece is one of the must-reads. https://t.co/4soBGPsOMV
    "What Colour is Your Beadwork, Joseph Boyden" asks @RMComedy https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/what-colour-is-your-beadwork-joseph-boyden  Ryan McMahon's piece is one of the must-reads. pic.twitter.com/4soBGPsOMV
  126. Adding another thread by Dr. Chris Anderson (@BigMMusings) that breaks down the q's re blood/blood quantum & Boyden  https://twitter.com/BigMMusings/status/814903632483287041 
  127. PODCAST—Why 2016 a breakout year for empowering Indigenous media arts + activism; #JosephBoyden's identity questions  http://mediaindigena.libsyn.com/ep-43-indigenous-look-back-at-2016-joseph-boydens-identity-questions 
  128. In addition to @CBCIndigenous articles on Boyden, take time to listen to radio interview with Rebeka Tabobondung:  http://www.cbc.ca/listen/shows/as-it-happens/segment/11266887 
  129. Tabobondung: Those who speak abt Native issues must be people who are grounded in that area/community.
  130. Without that grounding, she says, interpretations of that ppl's history can have negative consequences that perpetuate negative stereotypes.
  131. Tabobondung talked abt problems in interpretation of a community not ones own. Terri Monture's rev of Boyden's ORENDA...@RedIndianGirl
  132. 4:07, Jan 2, 2017: RT'ing items from Jan 1 and Jan 2, on Joseph Boyden, to add to the Storify I started on Dec 24th. Here's @RachelAnnSnow https://twitter.com/RachelAnnSnow/status/815562677887995905 



Part Two: (in process) 

January 2, 2017



January 3, 2017



January 4, 2017



January 5, 2017



January 6, 2017


January 8, 2017






January 9, 2016

January 10, 2017

January 11, 2017
.... pausing the bulleted list to note that Boyden finally responded to the many questions...
... back to the bulleted list, which--from here--is primarily responses to Boyden's remarks. When this started back in December, the headline on the APTN article had "shape shifting identity" in it. As some of these responses indicate, he's shifting his stories now. Previously, he said his family never talked about their Native ancestry, now--he says--they talked about it all his life, from his birth, even, telling stories. 

January 12, 2017
...pausing the list again, to note that:

1) Boyden's publisher (Penguin Random House in Canada), and his editor (Nicole Winstanley) voiced support for Boyden. Major publishers like Penguin are huge corporations. Integrity of writing or author does not matter. If it did, Simon and Schuster would not be publishing the White supremacist, Milo Yiannopoulos. It will make a lot of money for its publisher. Boyden's books make a lot of money for Penguin.  

2) The Tozer's, who Boyden referenced in his 1/12/17 interview with Candy Palmater, also issued a statement of support. William and Pamela Tozer are Moose Cree, and run Camp Onakawana, near Moosonee, Ontario. In 2014 (article linked below), Boyden wrote about the camp and said that William Tozer is the inspiration for Uncle Will Bird, a character in Boyden's Through Blue Spruce.
... resuming the list:

January 13, 2017
January 14, 2017

... Daniel Heath Justice shared an article from 2013 in which Boyden makes a claim to being Wendat. So far as I recall, that claim had not been written about. Here's a photo from the article, with the final paragraph pasted beneath the photo:


... Daniel Heath Justice's thread on Twitter, regarding that Wendat claim

January 15 2017



January 16, 2017


January 18, 2017

Reviews by People of the 

Native Communities Boyden's Books Depict


Three Day Road, published in 2005 by Viking Penguin


Through Blue Spruce, published in 2009 by Viking Penguin

The Orenda, published in 2013 by Penguin Random House

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Not recommended: RUNS WITH COURAGE by Joan M. Wolf

I do not recommend Runs With Courage, published in 2016 by Sleeping Bear Press. Written by Joan M. Wolf, it has several kinds of problems in it.

Wolf created dialog for Lakota characters of 1880 that she thinks reflects how they would talk. I find it awkward. 

In the first pages, for example, characters are using "Great White Father" in an uncritical way. On page 2, Four Winds (the main character) is thinking that white people must be very tall and powerful. After all, 
It was the white's leader, the Great White Father, who had forced us to the Great Sioux Reservation.
She doesn't say that in a frightened way. She is talking with her cousin at the time. She uses the phrase, "Great White Father" in a matter-of-fact way. Because they go on to talk about how brave the whites are--brave like their own warriors--there is a reverent quality to their use of the term. On page 5, a woman uses the phrase, too. At that part of the story, whites have come to their council lodge. The woman is amongst those wondering what is going on. The woman says: 
"Has the Great White Father passed another law?" 
If you study historical documents, you'll see "Great White Father" or the idea it embodies in several places. Thomas Jefferson used the idea that he was a father to Native peoples and our nations. Here it is in 1808 in a letter to "My Children, the Miamis, Poutewatamies, Delawares & Chippaways" 
My Children, this is the last time I shall Speak to you as your Father
And here it is in 1809 in a letter to "My Children Depities of the Cherokees of the Upper & Lower Towns:
I requested my fellow Citizens to permit me to retire, to live with my family, & to chuse another President for themselves, and Father for you.
It is paternalistic. I doubt that, in their daily conversations, Native people anywhere spoke with reverence of "the Great White Father." Why would they? Why would Four Winds speak reverently about the person who is responsible for her peoples removal from their homelands? Later when Four Winds is at the boarding school, other characters use "Great White Father," too, and later still, the one Lakota boy at the school, William, challenges her use of the phrase.   

In her story, Wolf's characters think and speak in English, uses English words in ways that I find grating (p. 8):
We had not collected any for two seasons because we...
In that sentence and elsewhere, Wolf uses "seasons" for years, "moons" for months, and "suns" for days. I know it is meant to insert some sense of authenticity, but it doesn't work. Occasionally, she has her characters using a Lakota word. I find that jarring, too. Instead of "Black Hills", Four Winds thinks and speaks "He Sapa" like this (p. 8):
I felt a pang of sadness to know that Bear did not remember much of He Sapa.
In several places she uses "tiospaye" for family or band, maybe, but it, too, is jarring:
Elders came into the lodge, left, and came back with other members of our tiospaye.
All of that sounds very outsider-y to me. Soon, Four Winds is told she's being sent away to a white man's school for girls. When the wagon arrives to take her away, she looks at the white woman, who is wearing a long black dress (p. 15):
...and a matching headdress that ended in a small piece of ribbon a her chin.
Why did she call that a headdress? That is another instance in which one of Wolf's word choices pulls me out of the story she's trying to tell. Before she gets in the wagon, her mother gives her a "wotawe" -- a pouch to protect her and help her remember to (p. 16)
"... use your lightning helpers for strength and not anger."
After dark, they reach the school where another white woman is. Four Winds notices that she isn't wearing a headdress. Once inside in the dormitory, she sees a cross. This tells me she's at a mission school. The white woman wants her to put on a rough white dress but she doesn't want to. Then, she hears footsteps and voices. Several girls walk into the room. She realizes they are Lakota, like her. One tells her what to do and the story moves on as Four Winds learns how to eat off dishes, get up when bells go off, and eventually how to read. She's given an English name: Sarah. In one of her school books she sees a drawing of a bridge. Someone tells her what it is, and she starts to think of herself as a bridge between her tiospaye and the white people. 

On page 93 she's in a school office and sees a plaque on the wall that reads (p. 93):
KILL THE INDIAN, SAVE THE MAN
Miss Margaret tells her that Colonel Pratt gave it to them. Sarah asks what it means. When Miss Margaret tells her it is about them becoming civilized, Sarah gets angry. She breaks the plaque in half and is beaten by the pastor. 

My thoughts on that? It is a dramatic scene (one of many) that reminds me of Smelcer's Stealing Indians. In his deeply flawed story of boarding schools, he made up things--including signs like that--that aren't factual. As far as I know, there were no plaques like the one Sarah breaks. The idea (kill the Indian and save the man), of course, was a driving force. The phrase and concept are well known. Much is written about it. But a plaque? It might seem a small thing but fictions like that plaque, in my opinion, inadvertently obscure the actual horrors of these schools. They create, in the reader, certain kinds of expectations---and when the real stories are brought forth, they don't measure up to the expectations. Because they don't, they aren't accepted as reality. 

In chapter ten, Four Winds/Sarah, beaten and bruised, runs away from the school. When she gets home, she learns that her family didn't choose to send her. The family needed more rations. If they sent her, they'd get more. Her return means a loss of those rations, again. Though they see her decision to run away as courageous, in the end, she goes back to the school when the pastor shows up. She sees this decision as a sacrifice on her part. 

She returns to the school. Time passes and she decides she wants to be a teacher, for her tiospaye, teaching them to read, write, and speak English. She talks with the pastor, who talks with someone else, and they decide she can do this, as an experiment, to see if the "savages" (the word appears several times in the story) can learn English. In the Epilogue, she's been teaching for several years and wondering about the friends she made at the school. The story ends with her, writing a letter to them.

Again--this feels very outsider-y to me. Earlier I said it reminds me of Smelcer's book. Parts of it remind me, too, of Rinaldi's My Heart Is On The Ground

In places, Wolf goes on and on about dancing, and about naming, and about hair in ways that are awkward. All the facts of what the boarding schools were like are in the story, but in ways that yank me out of the story, again and again and again. 

In the end, it was hard to finish reading Wolf's story. It was in the "Debbie--have you seen" series. I'm glad I finally made it to the end, and that I wrote this review. 

I do not recommend Runs With Courage

If you're looking for stories set in the boarding schools, you have some great alternatives! I know several, all by Native writers! My Name Is Seepeetza is superior in many ways to Runs With Courage, and so is I Am Not A Number by Jenny Kay Dupuis. 




Saturday, December 31, 2016

Debbie--have you seen THE CRYING ROCKS by Janet Taylor Lisle?

A colleague wrote to ask if I've seen anything about Janet Taylor Lisle's The Crying Rocks. It is due out in May of 2017 from Simon and Schuster.

Here's the description:

From Newbery Honor author Janet Taylor Lisle comes a lyrical story about one girl’s discovery of her startling past—and her search to understand her complicated present.
Joelle’s height and dark skin set her apart from everyone in Marshfield. It’s no secret that she’s adopted, but where is she from? Aunt Mary Louise says she came from Chicago on a freight train, but the story doesn’t sit right with Joelle. There’s something more. She feels it.
Carlos, the quiet boy in Joelle’s Spanish class, sees it. When he tells her that she looks like a girl in the town library’s old mural of Narragansett Indians, Joelle can’t help sneaking a look. She’s surprised by a flicker of recognition. And when Carlos tells her about the Crying Rocks, where the ghosts of Narragansett children are said to cry for their lost mothers, Joelle knows she must visit them.
When they finally set out through the forest, neither she nor Carlos anticipates the power of the ancient place, or the revelations to be found there—about the pasts they’ve both buried, and the discovery of a rare kind of courage that runs deep in Joelle’s family.


As I started some of the background research about the book, I went to Lisle's website and saw that it isn't a new book. It got awards and honors in 2004 and 2006. Here's an excerpt Lisle has on her website:
“What was that?” Carlos asks.
Joelle listens but hears nothing, only the sound of wind kicking branches overhead. "What?”
“A scream. Did you hear it?”
She shakes her head. "No. Nothing."
Carlos listens again. “Somewhere over there is a mass of glacial boulders called the Crying Rocks.” His face, in shadow, has taken on a stern, gaunt look. For the first time, Joelle sees, or imagines she sees, a vague outline of his Indian ancestry—something about his nose and the slope of his forehead. He is gazing intently into the forest.
“The story is that when you pass by these rocks at certain times, you hear children crying,” he says.
“Children! What children?”
Around them, tree shadows flick and twist.
“Ghosts of Indian children,” Carlos says. “They were killed there or something. A long time ago.”
“It's getting so dark,” Joelle murmurs.
In that moment an eerie feeling descends on them both.
“Let's get out of here,” Carlos whispers.
Why is it being republished? Did it get revised? Or is it being reissued with a new cover, with expectations that in this moment of diverse books, it'll do well? It isn't an #OwnVoices story... and what I read of that excerpt... well, let's say I'm not optimistic.

Here's an old cover and the new one:



If I hadn't done this background research, I might have bought the book when I don't need to... my library likely has a copy. If I read it, I'll be back.

Update (same day) -- a quick note: Some of the book is available online. I read that Carlos is "about one sixteenth or something" Sioux from "out West" (p. 15).

Debbie--have you seen STONE MIRRORS: THE SCUPTURE AND SILENCE OF EDMONIA LEWIS, by Jeannine Atkins

A reader asked me if I'd seen Jeannine Atkins Stone Mirrors: The Sculpture and Silence of Edmonia Jones. It is due out in January from Atheneum Books for Young Readers--which is part of Simon and Schuster. Here's the description, from Amazon:

From critically acclaimed author Jeannine Atkins comes a gorgeous, haunting biographical novel in verse about a half Native American, half African American sculptor working in the years following the Civil War.
A sculptor of historical figures starts with givens but creates her own vision. Edmonia Lewis was just such a sculptor, but she never spoke or wrote much about her past, and the stories that have come down through time are often vague or contradictory. Some facts are known: Edmonia was the daughter of an Ojibwe woman and an African-Haitian man. She had the rare opportunity to study art at Oberlin, one of the first schools to admit women and people of color, but lost her place after being accused of poisoning and theft, despite being acquitted of both. She moved to Boston and eventually Italy, where she became a successful sculptor.
But the historical record is very thin. The open questions about Edmonia’s life seem ideally suited to verse, a form that is comfortable with mysteries. Inspired by both the facts and the gaps in history, author Jeannine Atkins imagines her way into a vision of what might have been.

Kirkus and Booklist gave it starred reviews. As far as I can tell, Atkins doesn't have Ojibwe or African American heritage. In her blog post about Stone Mirrors, she shares a poem she wrote for the jacket flap. Here's the first paragraph:
Edmonia Lewis
studies faces for truth
or lies, checks classrooms
for safety or traps.
She's sixteen, the daughter
of an Ojibwe woman
and a free man of color who crosses
the country's border for safety
before the war between North and South.
I've ordered a copy. Hopefully I'll be back with a "recommended" tag.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Dan Gemeinhart's SOME KIND OF COURAGE

Way back in January or February, a reader wrote to ask me about Dan Gemeinhart's Some Kind of Courage. I put it into my "Debbie--have you seen" series and am glad to be able to return to it, today, with this review. 

First, the synopsis: 

Joseph Johnson has lost just about everyone he's ever loved. He lost his pa in an accident. He lost his ma and his little sister to sickness. And now, he's lost his pony--fast, fierce, beautiful Sarah, taken away by a man who had no right to take her.
Joseph can sure enough get her back, though. The odds are stacked against him, but he isn't about to give up. He will face down deadly animals, dangerous men, and the fury of nature itself on his quest to be reunited with the only family he has left.
Because Joseph Johnson may have lost just about everything. But he hasn't lost hope. And he hasn't lost the fire in his belly that says he's getting his Sarah back--no matter what.

Not a word, in that synopsis, about Native people, but if you look at the summary in WorldCat, you see this:
In 1890 Washington the only family Joseph Johnson has left is his half-wild Indian pony, Sarah, so when she is sold by a man who has no right to do so, he sets out to get her back--and he plans to let nothing stop him in his quest.
See? "Half-wild Indian pony." The story begins in 1890 in a place called Old Mission, Washington. As the synopsis and summary tell us, Some Kind of Courage is about a boy who is going to try to get his horse back. 

Here's how we first learn about Joseph's pony (Kindle Locations 302-303):
She’s half Indian pony, so she’s got some spirit, but she ain’t nothing but perfect with me.
Later, we'll read of her being a "half wild Indian pony" (Kindle 2043). Indian ponies appear in Westerns all the time. I've never figured out why they're "ponies" rather than "horses" -- and while I understand they had more endurance than other horses, I'm not sure why--in Some Kind of Courage--an Indian pony would have more spirit or be called "wild." That's a small point, though, so I won't go on about it.

Of greater interest to me is that Joseph has been taught, by his now-deceased mother, not to use or think "Chinaman" about Chinese people. That, he remembers, is wrong (Kindle Locations 210-216):
Chinaman. I heard the word in my mind, then my mama’s voice. I’d said it once, the year before, after we’d passed a group of Chinese on the road to Yakima. 
I’d been confused. Everyone called them Chinamen. I didn’t know there was another word for ’em. 
“It ain’t a curse word, Mama,” I’d argued. 
She’d pursed her lips. “Any word can be an ugly word if you say it ugly. And people say that word ugly, Joseph, nearly every time. It sounds hateful and I don’t like it. They’re people just like us, at the end of the day. In the Lord’s eyes, if not in His people’s.”
His mother, apparently, has awareness of stereotyping and racism. They're people, she tells Joseph. But she doesn't seem to have applied those ideas to Native peoples. In chapter six, Joseph and Ah-nee hear voices. They turn out to be two Indian children (Kindle Locations 527-531):
It was Indians. Two of ’em. A boy, older and taller than me, his bare arms taut with muscles. And a girl, five or six years old, with her arms around him and a terrified look on her face. The boy’s eyes narrowed. He bared his teeth like a wolf and snarled a word low and mean in his native tongue. A shaft of sunlight through the treetops gleamed on the long knife blade held in his hand as he ducked into a crouch and lunged toward me.
Bared his teeth like a wolf? Hmmm...

As we move into chapter seven, we read "the Indian" a bunch of times. When Joseph and the boy scuffle, Joseph thinks that he's in the grip of "an actual, real-life Indian" and he worries that he's going to get scalped. Is it realistic for him to think that way? Sure. Just like it was realistic for him to think "Chinaman" when he saw Chinese people. I wonder why his mother did not pass along any teachings about how to view Native people? Does it seem to you that she couldn't, because it wasn't plausible for her to think that way about Native people, but, that it is plausible she'd think that way about Chinese people? I don't know. That's a research question, for sure!

That Indian boy has a broken ankle. With Joseph and Ah-nee's help, the boy gets back to his family. They are, of course, grateful to Joseph. I like that, as Joseph looks at their camp, he sees kids chasing each other and playing. So often, Native children are absent from stories like this one! That little bit, there, is a big plus!

But, then, we're right back to stereotype land, when three Indian men approach Kindle Locations 603-604):
Their faces were deadly serious as they stood before us, looking like they were carved out of dark stone.
The Indian boy, it turns out, is the son of a chief! His name? "Chief George." We get "chief" and "scalp" and "the Indian" (lots of times) and stoicism... and no tribe--much less--a tribal nation.

People like Gemeinhart's story. It was part of the discussions at Heavy Medal (School Library Journal's blog where people engage in mock-Newbery discussions ahead of the actual announcements of who wins that prestigious award). I think it falls heavily into stereotypical depictions of Native people. Because people like it, it will be bought and read and assigned, too, to children in school.

People may defend it because of the way that Gemeinhart deals with "Chinaman." For me, that defense will signal another time in which Native concerns are set aside in favor of what an author has done to elevate someone else. When will that sort of thing end, I wonder?

In short: I do not recommend Dan Gemeinhart's Some Kind of Courage. Published in 2016 by Scholastic, it'll likely do quite well, which is too bad for everyone who will have stereotypical ideas of Native peoples affirmed by Gemeinhart's writing. And of course, completely unacceptable for Native kids who are asked to read it.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Highly recommended: TALES OF THE MIGHTY CODE TALKERS

Eds. note: This graphic novel--like many in the genre--can be used with a wide range of ages, from students in middle grade, on up to college. 

Comics! Graphic novels! Are you reading them? You should be! They're outstanding... for what you can learn about!

Years ago, I learned about the Code Talkers. I don't recall when or how, but I knew about them. With each year, a growing number of Americans are learning about who they were, and their role in WWI and WWII.

A few years ago, I started reading about comic books--written by Native people--about Code Talkers. Then, I got a couple of those comic books and was deeply moved by what I read.

The two that I read (described below) are in Volume One of Tales of the Mighty Code Talkers. Given the popularity of graphic novels, Tales of the Mighty Code Talkers is an excellent way for teens to learn about the Code Talkers--from people who are Native.

Back in June of 2014, I wrote about Arigon Starr's Annumpa Luma--Code Talkers about Choctaw code talkers from WWI. It was a stand-alone, then, and is now one of the many stories in Volume One. An image from Annumpa Luma stayed with me. Here it is:

From Annumpa Luma by Arigon Starr


That page warms my heart. So many of my relatives were--and are--in the service. They are people whose ancestors fought to protect their families and homelands.  The code talkers, like soldiers everywhere, were/are... husbands. Wives. Parents. Children... on homelands, or, carrying those homelands in their hearts.

That seemingly obvious fact is brought forth in the stories in Tales of the Mighty Code Talkers. 

In the prologue--Homeplace--we read the words of Lee Francis III. He founded Wordcraft Circle in 1992 to promote the work of Native writers and storytellers. He passed away in 2003. Where, I wondered, was Homeplace first published? After poking around a bit, I found it in his son's doctoral dissertation. That son, Lee Francis IV, founded Native Realities Press. Tales of the Mighty Code Talkers is published by that press. Knowing all this gives this collection depth and a quality that is hard to put into words. It is something to do with family, community, nation, conflict, commitment, perseverance... shimmering, with love.

~~~~~   

After Homeplace, is Roy Boney's We Speak in Secret, which I read/reviewed as a stand-alone in December of 2014 and Arigon Starr's Anuuma Luma. They're followed by several others that expand what we know. Did you know, for example, that Native women were in those wars? That may seem obvious, too, but one story in Tales of the Mighty Code Talker focuses on a Native woman.

Code: Love by Lee Francis IV is about Sheila, a Kiowa woman who is a nurse. A soldier is brought to the field hospital where she's working. His eyes are bandaged. She's walking past and hears him call out for tohn. She approaches his bed, but a guard stops her because that soldier is "some sort of radio man. Command wants him under guard." Sheila's mind goes back home--to Anadarko, Oklahoma--as she remembers a boyfriend who enlisted in the war. This injured soldier, we understand, is a Native man speaking his language, and thinking of his own home. Of course, Sheila figures out a way to get him some water.

Each story in Tales of the Mighty Code Talkers is memorable. 
I highly recommend it to teachers, everywhere. 
Libraries ought to get several copies. 

The closing pages include a lesson plan, a history of the Code Talkers, a bibliography, and biographies of the writers whose work is in the book. Here's the cover, and the Table of Contents:



  • Forward, by Geary Hobson
  • Publisher's Note, by Lee Francis IV
  • Prologue, written by Lee Francis III; artwork by Arigon Starr
  • We Speak in Secret, written and illustrated by Roy Boney, Jr.
  • Annumpa Luma: Code Talker, written and illustrated by Arigon Starr
  • Code: Love, written by Lee Francis IV; illustrated by Arigon Starr
  • PFC Joe, written and illustrated by Jonathan Nelson; Additional colors and letters by Arigon Starr
  • Mission: Alaska, written and illustrated by Johnnie Diacon; Colors and letters by Arigon Starr
  • Trade Secrets, Pencils and Inks by Theo Tso; Story, color, and letters by Arigon Starr
  • Korean War Caddo, original story concept by Michael Sheyahshe; Story, art, color and letters by Arigon Starr
  • Epilogue, illustrated by Renee Nejo; written by Arigon Starr
  • The History of the Code Talkers, by Lee Francis IV
  • Coding Stories, by Lee Francis IV, illustrated by Weshoyot Alvitre
  • Bibliography
  • Editor's Note
  • Biographies


~~~~~

Native America Calling's segment on December 14 was all about Tales of the Mighty Code Talkers. One of the early callers was a Tlingit man, calling in from Alaska, to say that there were Tlingit code talkers, too. In response to his call, Arigon Starr said that his story is precisely why Tales of the Mighty Code Talkers is subtitled "Volume One."

There's more to know. I look forward to Volume Two. In the meantime, get several copies of Volume One, directly, from Native Realities Press.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Worry and Wonder, by Marcie Rendon, in SKY BLUE WATER: GREAT STORIES FOR YOUNG READERS

Marcie Rendon's "Worry and Wonder" is a short story in Sky Blue Water: Great Stories for Young Readers, edited by Jay D. Peterson and Collette A. Morgan. Here's a screen cap of the cover and a partial listing of the Table of Contents:



Published in 2016 by the University of Minnesota Press, Worry and Wonder is one of those stories where a character is going to be with me for a long time. I could call Worry and Wonder a story about the Indian Child Welfare Act--or, "ick waa waa." That's what Amy is calling it when the story opens. She's a seventh grader, sitting in her social studies class, doodling "ick waa waa" on her notebook as her teacher talks about the environment, and the importance of water.

Amy's  thinking back to the day before, when she'd been in court and the judge said she'd have to wait another three months before going to live with her dad. Amy's "ick waa waa" and images she draws by those words capture her frustration with ICWA. In those three months, however, she spends more and more time with her dad.

Are you wondering about ICWA? In the story, Amy's dad tells her about it:
He explained that ICWA stood for the Indian Child Welfare Act. He told her how in the 1950s and 1960s Indian children were taken from their families and placed with white families. How those children had grown up and fought to have federal legislation passed so that Indian kids, if they needed to be placed in foster care, would be placed with Indian families, like the home Amy was in, and how it was federal law, tribal law, that the courts and the tribes had to try and find immediate family for children to be reunited with, which is why the courts had found him and told him to come home to raise Amy.
Some of you know that ICWA was in the news in 2016. Five years ago, a Choctaw child was placed with a white foster home in California. Since then, her Choctaw father had been trying to get her back, but the white family had been fighting to keep her. In the end, her father prevailed. In March, when child services went to pick up the six-year-old child, the home was surrounded by media and protestors who thought the white family ought to be able to keep her. That family turned the case into a media frenzy, with one major news source after another misrepresenting ICWA, tribal sovereignty, and tribal citizenship. Right around then, I read Emily Henry's The Love That Split the World. In it, a white couple finds a work-around to ICWA and adopts a Native infant. That character's Native identity is central to that story, which draws heavily from a wide range of unattributed an detribalized Native stories that guide that character. As you may surmise, I do not recommend Henry's novel.

The case of the Choctaw child and Emily Henry's young adult novel were in my head as I started reading Rendon's story of Amy.

Rendon--who is White Earth Anishinabe--gives us a story that doesn't misrepresent ICWA or Native identity, or nationhood. My heart ached for Amy as I read, and it soared, too. Rendon's story is infused with Native content. Some, like the water ceremony, are explicit. That part of the story is sure to tug on the heart strings of those who are following the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's fight to protect their water from Big Oil. There are other things in the story, too, that Native readers will discern.

Rendon's Worry and Wonder 
is filled with mirrors for Native readers. 

From start to finish, Rendon's short story is deeply touching. I highly recommend it and look forward to more from her. In my not-yet read pile is Murder on the Red River, due out in 2017 from Cinco Puntos Press. It may be one of the books I'll recommend as a crossover (marketed to adults, but one that teens will enjoy).

Above I showed you a partial listing of the Table of Contents. I've yet to read Anne Ursu's story, but I look forward to it. Her character, Oscar, in The Real Boy is like Amy. In my heart. Get a copy of Sky Blue Water. 

Friday, December 16, 2016

Richard Van Camp's SPIRIT

If you follow Native news, you know that suicide rates in our communities are high. Here's a table from a 2015 report by the Center for Disease Control:



That is data for the U.S. If you do an internet search, you'll find news stories about youth suicides in Canada.

Richard Van Camp's Spirit is--as he said in a tweet in September of 2016--a suicide prevention comic book.



It opens with a mom, shucking corn. Nearby, a baby is sleeping. That baby's spirit rises from its body, and flies out the window, and over several pages, we see the baby fly over a Native community of kids and elders. She flies to a house where, inside, a young man in tears is reaching for pills. He looks up, surprised to see her, and drops the pills, and holds her to him. On the next page, we see people gathered round a table, praying. The door opens, and in walks the young man. They call out "Surprise!" together. They're having a feast for him, because they know he's having a rough time. His grandfather gives him some snowshoes and talks about going to their cabin. His grandmother tells him a story about his birth.

His Native family and community, in short, have gathered to help him. With its Native content, it is a powerful message about Native community. While it is crucial that teachers and librarians have books like Spirit in their collections, it is also important to remember that--unless you've got training to work with someone who is contemplating suicide--you may not be the right person to help.

Spirit is published by the South Slave Divisional Education Council, which serves several First Nations communities. It is available in several different First Nations languages. I've written to Richard to ask where people can buy it. As soon as I hear back, I'll add that information, here.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Recommended! Darryl Baker's KAMIK JOINS THE PACK

Kamik Joins the Pack was in my mail today. Adapted from the memories of Darryl Baker, who is Inuit, the story is the third in Inhabit Media's series featuring Jake and his pup, Kamik.

I first met Kamik in 2013, in Kamik: An Inuit Puppy Story. Jake had just gotten him. Course, Kamik has all the bountiful energy of a puppy---and Jake has all the frustration of a little boy trying to teach him this or that. Jake's grandpa helps him out, giving him perspective, and stories, too, about the importance of sled dogs. Then in 2015, Kamik's First Sled came out. In it, Jake wants Kamik to learn how to pull a sled. His grandma helps him.

This year, in Kamik Joins the Pack, Jake is visiting his uncle. That uncle has a great dog sled team and has won many races. Jake hopes that, someday, Kamik can be on a team like that. He's still a pup, and still learning.

Jake's uncle is getting ready to take his team out. He shows Kamik some of the things he does to make sure his dogs are in good shape. And he tells Jake about things dogs will do--like chewing on the harnesses and ropes. Knowing how to sew and braid so that he can repair chewed up ropes and harnesses, is important, too! There's other responsibilities, too. It seems like a lot of work to Jake, but his uncle is reassuring. Like Kamik, he'll learn, a bit at a time. As the story ends, Kamik is off, on a short run, with the pack.

As with the other Kamik books, I love the present-day setting, and the significant role extended family members play in Jake's life. In each one, Qin Leng's illustrations are vivid and lively. Endearing and accurate, the Kamik stories are terrific. If you don't have the first two, get them right away when you get Kamik Joins the Pack. As I'm writing, snow is falling outside. It is falling in a good many places in the US... it is wintertime! Perfect time for sharing stories.... about puppies and sleds.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Not recommended: INDEH: A STORY OF THE APACHE WARS by Ethan Hawke and Greg Ruth

Eds. note on Dec 16, 2016: Please scroll down to see Greg Ruth's response to my review. In turn, I responded to him.
______________________________

I've received several questions about Indeh: A Story of the Apache Wars by Ethan Hawke and Greg Ruth.

Published by Hachette Book Group in 2016, this graphic novel wasn't published for, or marketed to, children or young adults. That said, we know that teens read a lot of things that wasn't necessarily meant for them. There are awards, too (like the American Library Association's Alex Award) for books regarded as "crossover" ones--which cross over from the adult to the teen market.

Teachers and librarians are asking if Indeh can be used in high school classrooms. Short answer? No.

Generally, reviews on American Indians in Children's Literature are specific to accuracy of content which, in my view, makes them suitable for teachers to use when they develop lessons or select books to read aloud in their classrooms.

The questions I'm getting suggest that teachers wonder if there's enough accuracy in Indeh to use it to teach about the Apache wars. It may also be coming from teachers who know that graphic novels are a hit with teens and that Indeh may work well with teens who are reluctant readers.

Again--my answer is no. It isn't accurate (more on that, later). There's another interesting factor to consider.

Hawke's Use of Geronimo's Words


As I started reading Indeh, I pulled out the resources I use when doing book reviews. I had Indeh in one window (I use a Kindle app on my computer) and in another window, I had a copy of Geronimo's Story of His Life which was "taken down and edited by S. M. Barrett." He was the Superintendent of Education in Lawton, Oklahoma and the contents of this book were told to him by Geronimo. The first pages in it are devoted to copies of letters that went back and forth between several people involved in authorizing Geronimo to tell his story. It was published in 1906 by Duffield & Company in New York.

Right away, I hit the pause button in my reading. Here's a screen cap comparing the opening lines of Hawke's book (on top), and Barrett's (on the bottom):





This paraphrasing happens in several places in the book. (Note: In response to those who asked to see the other examples, I've added three, at the bottom of the post.) In the afterword, Hawke tells us that Once They Moved Like the Wind by David Roberts inspired him to write Indeh. Though Hawke includes Barrett's book in the "for further reading" section, I think he should have written about Barrett's book in that afterword because of passages like that shown above. This happens later, too. A big deal? Or not?

I'm noting it because--in the afterword--Hawke talks about appropriation (p. 228):
The Apache Wars are a vital part of our American history that needs to be told in a way that honestly appreciates and integrates, rather than appropriates, Native American history.
Hawke's use of the word is odd. What does he mean? I could say that, in using Barrett like he did, he's appropriating Geronimo's words. Is that a form of appropriation?

That said, my primary concern is with the accuracy. First, let's look at what Hawke sets out to do with Indeh.

Hawke's Intent


In his Afterword, Hawke recounts a story from his childhood. His parents had divorced, and his dad took him on a camping trip. They were somewhere near the Arizona/New Mexico border when (p. 227):
An old man waved us down from the center of the two-lane road--the only living thing as far as my eyes could see. I heard him say in an unfamiliar cadence, "You are not supposed to be here."
The old man told them they're lucky it was him that found them (he looked directly at 8-year-old Hawke when he said that, and that old man's eyes stayed with Hawke). Hawke's dad turned the car around. Hawke asked his dad what happened.
My father explained what an Indian reservation was, what an Apache was, how we really shouldn't have been there at all, and how lucky he was not to have gotten his ass kicked.
Hawke asked what the old man meant about them being lucky he's the one who had found them.
My father told me, "Many of the Indians are very angry. And they damn well should be." 
Hawke asks if they're mad at him (he doesn't tell us if his dad responded to that question). From then on, he started buying and reading books about Geronimo, Cochise, Victorio, and Lozen. From those books, he says he saw that
...the cowboy movies I'd always loved took on a different hue. They were full of lies. Those gunfights weren't cool, heroic frays--they were slaughters.
All that made me pause. Hawke was born in 1970. So, he was out there on that two-lane road in 1978. My guess is that they were on either the Fort Apache Reservation, or, on the San Carlos Reservation. Though the reservations are under the jurisdiction of their respective governments, they aren't closed to others. There are times when we close off the roads to outsiders, but that doesn't sound like what happened to Hawke. Who was that old guy?! The "should not have been there" portion of Hawke's story sounds... dramatic. I'm not saying it didn't happen; I'm just wondering who the old guy was. Part of me thinks Hawke and his dad got punked! On the other hand, it is possible that the man was home after having spent time with the Native activists doing activist work at Alcatraz in 1969, at the Bureau of Indian Affairs offices in Washington DC in 1972, or Wounded Knee in 1973.

Anyway, Hawke goes on to talk about his adulthood... working in Alaska with Native actors, and watching Smoke Signals and Powwow Highway, and reading one of Sherman Alexie's books. Hawke writes that (p. 228):
The story [of the Apache wars] needs to be told again and again until the names of Geronimo and Cochise are as familiar to young American ears as Washington and Lincoln.
Can I do a "well, actually" here? I think Geronimo IS one of names Americans -- young and old -- are familiar with. Do you remember that "Geronimo" was the code name the US military used for Bin Laden? Do your kids yell "Geronimo!" when they are doing something they think is courageous?

He, I think, is far more visible than Hawke suggests.

I did a search in WorldCat, using Geronimo, and found 26,964 items in the nonfiction category, which is a lot more than the 9,028 items for Sitting Bull and the 4,669 items for Crazy Horse.  (Note: There are 413,469 items for Washington, and 80,501 items for Lincoln.) In its We Shall Remain series (consisting of 5 episodes), PBS did an entire segment on Geronimo. There are more movies with or about Geronimo than any other Native person. I think he's the most well-known Native person.

Hawke's afterword suggests that his goal, with Indeh, is to tell a story that counters the biased stories and movies he saw as a child. Does he succeed?

Short answer: No. In plain text below are summaries from Indeh. My c