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Book Review
People of the Whale
Monday, February 09 2009
 
Written by Linda Hogan W. W. Norton Publishing,
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people_of_the_whale.jpgA young man and young woman from a fictional coastal tribe fall in love, conceive a child and are separated only to meet again years later in confrontation. Their tribal council has determined that they should reinstate the hunting of whales. The aftermath of war and conquest tell heavily in Hogan's novel. Damaged characters turn from what they love toward greed and power. But when we get into the point of view of even the worst behaved of her characters we find they want more than anything “to be a people” again, want to be family again and will cross continents to be so. Hogan's detailed and lovely prose gives us a dramatic and intimate view of the sea and her creatures. From the opening scene in which an octopus walks on land to bring a blessing to the people to descriptions of houses white with whale bone, through political dirty dealings and personal vendettas, Hogan creates a believable tribal culture built around whales in a time past whaling. At times, such as when the women seem so much more virtuous than the men, we have to wonder if the fictional tribe's members are not a kind of metaphor. Do they stand for human relationship to the natural world? And if so, can we accept Hogan’s message that humans have essentially dualistic views: either you are for the earth and suffer with it or are against it and happy exploiting it. Perhaps too simple. Complicating our entire read of The People of the Whale is the underlying comparison to the Makah, an actual Northwest Coast people who did determine to hunt whales again, under some of the same circumstances as described by Hogan.What are we to make of her less-than-flattering
(and just barely understanding) reference to a people who (for their own reasons and within their sovereign rights) choose to institute hunting practices that fly in the face of accepted conservationist, animal rights and environmental norms? You will have to read this familiar, though heavily fictionalized, portrait of a tribe at war with itself to see if it answers the implied question: how a people can be both stewards of endangered animals and their only natural threat? – Review by Heid Erdrich


A Native American of It: Amazing Inventions and Innovations
Monday, February 09 2009
 
Written by Rocky Landon and David MacDonald Annick Press,
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native_american.jpgEveryone knows canoes and toboggans invented by the Native North America, but they also created sign language, syringe needles ingredient in soda pop? Other inventions and innovations diapers, asphalt, megaphones, hair conditioner, and sunscreen. With descriptive photos and information-text, this book explores eight different categories activity in of Native people from across the continent inventions and able innovations, many of which today. A big, colorful, and fun book to read!
Fritz Scholder: Indian/Not Indian
Monday, February 09 2009
 
Written by Lowery Stokes Sims, Truman Lowe & Paul Chaat Smith Prestel USA,
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fritz_scholder.jpgIn the 1960s and 70s, the notion of American Indian art was turned on its head by artists who fought against prejudice and popular cliches. At the forefront of this revolution was Fritz Scholder (Luiseño Tribe, 1937-2005) whose portrayals of Native American life combined realism, tragedy, and spirituality with the genres of abstract expressionism and pop art. Published to coincide with an exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in New York City and Washington, D.C., this retrospective features hundreds of works from Scholder’s career as a painter, printmaker, and sculptor. Essays explore Scholder’s major themes: humanity’s place in the natural world, ancient mythical beings, women, Christian iconography, the millennium, and the afterlife. It also covers Scholder’s decades of prominence in the art world, his role in the Native American community, and his myth-shattering depictions of the realities of Native American life. Fritz Scholder: Indian/Not Indian offers a lively, insightful exploration of his place in twentieth-century American art history as a colorist, expressionist, and figurative painter.


Inkpaduta: Dakota Leader
Monday, February 09 2009
 
Written by Paul N. Beck,
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dakota_leader.jpgLeader of the Santee Sioux, Inkapduta (1815-1879) partcipated in some of the most decisive battles of the northern Great Plains, including Custer's defeat at the Little Bighorn. But the attack in 1857 on forty white settlers known as the Spirit Lake Massacre gave Inkapaduta the reputation of being the most brutal of all the Sioux leaders. Beck is able to restore a more human dimension to Inkapaduta, who was considered a villain whose passion was killing white settlers. For the first time, Inkpaduta is shown as a human being instead of a devil incarnate. He was respected by white settlers who lived among Inkpaduta's people and traded goods with them. Based on years of research by Beck, primarily from letters, diaries, and military official reports, the book demonstrates (for the first time) that Inkpaduta and white settlers in Iowa and Minnesota had good relations just prior to the Spirit Lake attacks. Beck does not rely on second and third hand accounts and avoids repeating historical lies about Inkpaduata. And he demonstrates that Inkpaduta never hated whites up to the eve of the massacres; but that misunderstandings between white and Indian cultures, beliefs, and needs all contributed to Inkpaduta’s actions


Taku Wadaka He? (What Do You See?)
Monday, February 09 2009
 
Written by Reading level,
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Simple, beautiful, artful, intricate, this book’s Dakota text and delightful premise will make it the book child reaches for at bedtime. I always try to find books that will not drive an adult crazy when read hundreds of times to a child. This one passes test! Because the illustrations also tell a story, it be examined and puzzled out by parent and child together. Each picture gives a cultural teaching. The repetition of the language is important, but most all, the book gives the sense of all encompassing kindness. A book of comfort and wisdom. — Review by Louise  Erdrich


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