In this edition of the “Native American Life” series, readers learn about the many sports and games that Native Americans have enjoyed throughout time. Games and sports often held spiritual significance, but the rules, participants, and significance of each game or sport varied from tribe to tribe. They were played to cure diseases, for blessing of crops and giving thanks, and as preparation for war. A popular common ball game was lacrosse, which had a mythological origin and was originally used to teach the men skills needed in battle. Other games were simply played for fun. Types of games included guessing games, ball and dice games, archery, spear throwing, foot and horse races, wrestling, hoop and pole games, boxing, and gambling. The latter activity, gambling, was especially popular, which over time increased as games and sports decreased in spiritual significance. Games were commonly divided among the sexes. Men and boys rarely played against the women and girls, although there were exceptions. Men and women in the Southwest, for instance, competed against each other in rabbit hunts. Some Native Americans were excluded from games and sports all together. In Central and South America, among the Aztecs, Incas and Mayans, only the elite class participated, as the poorer working class had little time to play. Staeger discusses the games and sports in the following Native American regions: Northeast, Southeast, Northwest and Far North, Southwest, and Central and South America. Readers will recognize common games still played today, such as the ball games that resemble basketball and soccer and a string game called Cat’s Cradle. A chronology, glossary, resources and index are included, as well as plenty of photos and illustrations. Reviewer: Sharon M. Himsl; Ages 10 up.
Children's Literature - Sharon M. Himsl
The Native American Life series of fifteen titles provides brief overviews of topics relating to Native American life. Each title contains six chapters on the subject, followed by a chronology, a glossary, and other back matter. It is unfortunate that the publisher did not index the text box material, and the stock photos are not always a perfect fit for the text.
Native American Languages suffers from awkward writing and a lack of context. The coverage seems patchy: it is unclear why the author chose to cover certain languages over others. An oblique discussion of political correctness in a text box is not properly explicated, and the author contradicts herself about Pocahontas’s relationship with John Smith. The glossary haphazardly defines “loan word” instead of “phyla” and “stock” (a linguistic term). Continual use of the passive voice makes for awkward constructions. Purchase individual volumes with care. (Native American Life) Reviewer: Caitlin Augusta; Ages 11 to 14.
VOYA, February 2014 (Vol. 36, No. 6) - Caitlin Augusta