Rattlesnake Mesa: Stories from a Native American Childhood

Rattlesnake Mesa: Stories from a Native American Childhood

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by EdNah New Rider Weber

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
When seven-year-old EdNah's beloved Pawnee grandmother dies, she reluctantly travels to Crown Point, on the Eastern Navajo Reservation in New Mexico, to live with her Navajo father and other relatives. Although miserable at first, she soon makes friends with two other children with whom she attends a relaxed one-room schoolhouse. After school the children spend many happy hours having humorous and exciting adventures that often take place at nearby Rattlesnake Mesa. A year later EdNah is uprooted again when her father sends her to the Phoenix Indian School, which like other Indian Boarding Schools of the early and mid-1900s, existed to kill the Indian culture of its young students/prisoners. About one half of this fascinating memoir describes young EdNah's first difficult year at the Phoenix Indian School. The author skillfully recreates the strict militaristic life with its drudgery, harsh and abusive punishments, and scary nuns, interwoven with more lighthearted accounts of visiting the Arizona State Fair, riding the tram downtown, and indulging in childish pranks and games. When she returns home near the end of the book, EdNah feels an even stronger appreciation for her Navajo family, friends, and culture, and the reader will surely feel a greater appreciation and understanding for the many Native American children who endured similar boarding school experiences. While the story is exciting in itself, the author/storyteller's dramatic, colorful style really makes young EdNah and her experiences come to life. The many evocative black-and-white photos enhance the text in an unusually striking way. This memoir could be enjoyed by a wide age range—from about ten-years-old to adult.Nevertheless, it should be supplemented with discussions of its harsher aspects, especially with younger readers or listeners. The book would make a great addition to social studies and history units. 2004, Lee & Low Books, Ages 10 up.
—Gisela Jernigan, Ph.D.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 3-8-Weber's memoir of growing up in the early 1900s brings readers into the thoughts and surroundings of her eight-year-old self with humor and sincerity. When her grandmother died, her father took her to live with him at Crown Point Indian Agency on the Eastern Navajo Reservation. At the school there, she witnessed boys being beaten with a horsewhip, which haunted her. "I carried a mortal shame, fear, and hurt away with me." Just as she started to feel at home at Crown Point, she was sent to the faraway Phoenix Indian School, where her father was educated. However, she and her new friends became survivors ("we learned early-laughing was best.") Her memories of the ridiculous teachers and underground games are expressed in a conversational voice that begs to be read aloud. Readers will identify with her predicaments, whether they are learning about a different culture or recognizing their own. The voice does shift occasionally throughout the book to one that seems oddly outsider, and a homecoming ceremony involving Sacred Yellow Corn Pollen is not fully explained. But then Weber's evocative voice resurfaces. The recollections are illustrated with black-and-white photos of unidentified contemporary children posed in the New Mexico landscape as if they were part of the story, which sometimes makes an odd contrast, though they are beautiful. For its unique voice, consider this collection as supplementary material on the Indian boarding school experience, or as a captivating read-aloud.-Nina Lindsay, Oakland Public Library, CA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

Lee & Low Books, Inc.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
7.70(w) x 9.40(h) x 0.60(d)
760L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 - 13 Years

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