Children's LiteratureThis nonfiction series "North American Indians Today" is intended for the older reader. Each title in the series covers a different Native American group in detail. The history of the group is introduced in the first two chapters, followed by chapters on current government, spiritual beliefs, social structures, contemporary arts, and contributions of the tribe to the world. A beautiful Haudenosaunee creation story is shared to explain the roots of the culture, then the contemporary lifestyle is presented. The author and his wife (a pastor and a schoolteacher) took leave from their jobs to immerse themselves in the Native American cultures in order to gather material for the series. Their goals were to break down stereotypes by presenting a comprehensive picture of the groups, and to increase understanding of and appreciation for indigenous peoples. The members of the six nations of the Iroquois mostly live in the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada. Their spirituality is centered around thanksgiving. There are a number of ceremonies to celebrate different cycles of thanksgiving. Handsome Lake was an important Iroquois who left behind a destructive lifestyle when he received a vision in 1799. As a result, he preached a message of how to live right which became a guiding code of the people. Another well-known Iroquois presented in the book is Kateri Tekakwitha, a convert to Catholicism who is the patron saint of ecology and the environment. An enormous amount of material is presented, making this seem very much like a textbook. There are few of the usual nonfiction conventions (textboxes, boldface and italics, pronunciation guides, summaries) to help readers absorb theinformation. 2004, Mason Crest Publishers, Ages 8 to 12.
Carol E. Lynch