When The Great Canoes Came

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Overview

The heritage of the North American Indian tribes has always been passed down through storytelling as well as rituals of dance and song. Few written histories today can recount the past as well as the tribal elders who once served as the historical, philosophical, and cultural educators of the entire community. Mary Louise Clifford's When the Great Canoes Came recreates this lost practice for young readers as the setting for telling the history of the Virginian Indians following ...
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Overview

The heritage of the North American Indian tribes has always been passed down through storytelling as well as rituals of dance and song. Few written histories today can recount the past as well as the tribal elders who once served as the historical, philosophical, and cultural educators of the entire community. Mary Louise Clifford's When the Great Canoes Came recreates this lost practice for young readers as the setting for telling the history of the Virginian Indians following their first contact with European explorers at Jamestown.

The storyteller is Cockacoeske, the seventeenth leader of the Pamunkey Indians. A successor of the famed chief Powhatan, she was a strong force in maintaining peace between the natives of North America and the incoming colonists from Europe. Her stories present the history of the region through a fictitious meeting between herself and the younger members of her tribe. Focusing most of its attention on Jamestown, the book is one of the first histories of the settlement from a non-European perspective. It will give children a sense of history that is lacking in most contemporary texts. From the struggles against colonization to the personal triumphs for peace, When the Great Canoes Came is exciting, nail-biting, and enlightening. Suitable as a supplementary text for American history classes or simply for the enjoyment of a good story, Cockacoeske's adventurous tales will capture the imaginations of children.

A seventeenth-century Pamunkey Indian describes how the coming of the English colonists has changed her life forever.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
Set 75 years after the settlement of Jamestown, this fictional but well researched story tells of life before and after the Europeans arrived and is told through conversations between Cockacoeske, queen of the Pamunkey Indians and the children of her tribe. The author has studied the Indian tribes of Virginia and wrote this book in response to an anthropologist who asked her to explain to children how the English intrusion affected the Indians.
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-- Students and teachers interested in viewing American history from the Native American perspective will enjoy this well-researched and footnoted fictionalized account of the colonization of Virginia as related by Cockacoeske, the 17th-century Pamunkey Indian who is a successor to Chief Powhatan. In a bittersweet, nostalgic voice, Cockacoeske tells her story and that of her predecessors to a young boy who may one day succeed her as chief. She relates the episodes gradually as Lost Owl comes time after time with his mother and young friends to learn family history and customs. As a counterpoint to the story she tells, Cockacoeske also tells of events in her own time. Her son recruits Lost Owl's girlfriend to be a companion to a planter and later brings the dying girl back to the reservation. Cockacoeske helplessly expresses her frustration about the inevitable--Lost Owl must seek revenge against the white men. The Chief must try to keep the future a possibility for her people. An epilogue examines the fate of the tribes after the Jamestown Island settlement in 1607. Because the text is not easy, this book is best read by those already acquainted with the historical events. The usefulness and uniqueness of the account is in its vividly historical Native American perspective. Unfortunately, the static black-and-white drawings add little. --Yvonne Frey, Peoria Public Schools, IL
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781565546462
  • Publisher: Pelican Publishing Company, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 12/28/1998
  • Pages: 144
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Author Mary Louise Clifford holds a master's degree in education from Virginia's oldest university, the College of William and Mary. During the course of her graduate work, she followed up on a professor's challenge to explain the English intrusion on the Indians to young readers. The result of her research is When the Great Canoes Came , a retelling of American history that is sure to raise cultural awareness.

Joyce Haynes, a resident of Pineville, Missouri, has won numerous local, state, and national awards for her illustrations.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 19, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Grandma Bev for TeensReadToo.com

    This book reveals history through the eyes of the Native Americans as they lived it. History usually details the settling of Jamestown and the Chesapeake Bay area from the viewpoint of the English colonists, and we can only guess at what the Indians experienced. In WHEN THE GREAT CANOES CAME, Clifford shows us their hardships and emotions through the storytelling of the female chief, Cockacoeske, successor to Powhatan, as she relates the tribal history to the boy, Lost Owl, and his friends. The boys are at the age that their ancestors had their huskenaw, or coming of age ordeals and rituals. <BR/><BR/>While the native language and names are challenging to pronounce and the tribal relations require some effort and concentration to keep straight, the story about this exciting chapter in our history is thought-provoking and compelling. <BR/><BR/>Cockacoeske describes the days before and after the arrival of the European settlers. The great chiefs, Powhatan and Opechancanough, deal with the invaders to the best of their ability through the harsh weather and the atrocities committed by the English. The story is told through episodes of the Pamunkey everyday life, interspersed with storytelling sessions. <BR/><BR/>Mary Louise Clifford's extensive research is evident in this footnoted account of 17th-century America. An epilogue tells of the fate of the tribes after the Jamestown Island settlement in 1607. Ten illustrations, a bibliography, map, genealogical chart, and chronology add to the reading experience. This book would be an outstanding extra accompaniment for early American history studies in elementary school or home school to help put that era in perspective. <BR/><BR/>Meet Powhatan, Pocahontas, Captain John Smith, John Rolfe, and other historical legends in a whole new perspective.

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