Stealing Indians by John Smelcer (2016, Leapfrog Press; 200 pages)
“In 1950, four Indian teenagers, from very different parts of America, are taken from their families, their lives immutably changed by an institution designed to eradicate their identity, to make them into something else - to make them less Indian. And no matter where they came from - north, south, east or west - their stories are representative of every story, every stolen life.“ Far from home, without family to protect them, they will have to count on friends to help them endure. The author says that the book is a work of fiction but that every word is true.
Filled with tales of courage, friendship, love, pain and endurance, this is the story of Lucy Secondchief, Simon Lone Fight, Noah Boyscout and Elijah High Horse. Their tales and stories will resonate with young Alaskan readers but it is important to keep in mind that the story has a lack of tribal specificity and maybe because of that, it feels there are an abundance of stereotypes. There may be some problems also with accuracy with respect to time periods in which the story occurs. These notes should probably be part of a post-reading discussion. The book in fact includes a “questions for discussion” section that offers a historical context to the storytelling. Questions related to the residential Indian boarding school experiment that lasted from 1879 until the 60's, or to the deaths of thousands of Indian children due to diseases to which they had no previous immunity, or those related to practices to eradicate elements that sustain the identity of a person, like the haircuts that Indian boys received almost immediately when they arrived to the boarding schools are included and are necessary to be talked about.
Find this title in our catalog: Stealing Indians
Recommended by: Maite