This book offering a broad and entertaining introduction to the history of Native American peoples.
Alvin R. Brown’s Native American Action Stories is an interesting and informative book that combines facts about various Native American tribes with fictional stories exploring what life might have been like within the different cultures. Stories are delivered as both narratives and plays, often blending one form into the other. They all serve to illustrate some of the main characteristics of nine different tribes, ranging from the Inuit to the Aztecs.
A variety of customs, including potlatches, horse training, rites of passage, hunting, and even gambling and sports are given careful attention. The role that Native Americans played in early wars, including the American Revolution, is also covered. The vastly different environments in which each culture developed are discussed as a key determining factor in the lives of native peoples.
The writing is clean and clear. The author does an excellent job of including topics that go beyond common stereotypes to bring to life these sophisticated societies, their rich traditions, and their complex rules and beliefs.
Though there is a great deal of information presented, there are no citations beyond a brief reference list at the beginning of the book. It becomes frustrating to try to determine what is fact and what is fiction within the stories themselves.
The main characters are all fifteen years old, and as such, stories are told from a young adult perspective. Fifteen is an age at which one would have been considered fully grown in most tribes, and the tasks and activities in the stories are often fairly intense. Death is a common topic, including in the story of an Inuit man tasked with building a tomb for his still-living mother.
Stories of war and hunting are also common, and include mature themes without any narrative attempt to soften the harsh realities of native life. For example, in the story of Lomiak, a young Inuit on a seal hunt, an injured seal is described as it thrashes beneath the ice.
A number of black-and-white illustrations, maps, and drawings are included. The maps, though crudely drawn, help to place the various tribes in their appropriate lands in North and Central America. Drawings are grainy, as if they are poor-quality copies.
Native American Action Stories shares information about a variety of Native American cultures and traditions through historical fact and dramatized stories, offering a broad and entertaining introduction to the history of Native American peoples.
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