I originally started reading Growing Up Native American for a Native American culture class in college. We only had to read one essay in this collection of 22…and the remaining stories went unread throughout my collegiate years…which was quite unfortunate.
When you are learning about a people, a culture, a way of life, there’s no better way to do it than to take lessons from the source. Every book I read for my Native Studies degree was a personal account (or something similar) that not only touched the reader emotionally, but mentally and spiritually as well.
Through the rubble of the questions left open by our history books comes a collection of 22 personal accounts from Native writers, both famous and not so famous, of what it was like to grow up “Native American”. These are tales about boarding school, family life, conflict of traditions, life, death, children, growing up, and letting go. These are stories by the people for the people. These are the tales passed down from generations of storytellers. These are the true stories.
Growing Up Native American is a collection of personal essays, broken down into four parts: the nineteenth and twentieth century make up two parts, while the other two are divided into moving forward by using the lessons of ages past and life in the Native educational system, whether that be at home with parents or away at boarding school.
Many of these accounts are truly awakening. “The Middle Five: Indian Schoolboys of the Omaha Tribe” by Francis La Flesche, for example, is as touching and beautiful as it is sorrowful and unfortunate. These stories will make you think. They will invoke familiar emotions and not so familiar ones. These stories will teach you, inspire you, captivate you, and stay with you for quite a while.
Contributors include Black Elk, Louise Erdrich, Linda Hogan, N. Scott Momaday, and Simon Ortiz.
Growing Up Native American is not just a book for natives, but for those of us who are inspired by their teachings. This is a book for people who love storytelling and tradition and a book for those of us who can appreciate the importance of culture and history.
NEXT WEEK: IT’S HARRY POTTER WEEK!!! AAAAHHHHH!! Okay, I’m okay. So here’s a thought: What if we could find a way to bring Harry Potter to life? What if we could find a way to really play Quidditch? Can owls really be reliable mail service carriers? Can I get an Invisibility Cloak at Macy’s? These answers may surprise you…
Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.