Academic journal article Pennsylvania Literary Journal

A Detailed History of Native Americans across the United States

Academic journal article Pennsylvania Literary Journal

A Detailed History of Native Americans across the United States

Article excerpt

A detailed History of native Americans across the united states Yvonne Wakim Dennis, Arlene Hirschfelder, and Shannon Rothenberg Flynn. Native American Almanac: More Than 50,000 Years of the Cultures and Histories of Indigenous Peoples. Canton (MI): Visible Ink Press, 2016. ISBN: 978-1-57859-507-5. $24.95. Native American Studies. 644pp.

The Introduction clarifies a word that does not stand out in the title, but is an unusual one in this context. This word is "almanac." I was just reading about Benjamin Franklin's almanacs and he did not include too much information about the stars and the moon too, mostly writing proverbs of advice for those who are struggling with poverty. The writers of this book are using the word "almanac" to mean "settlement" of Native American "communities" (ix). I took this book because it promises to be a great overview about Native Americans in case I ever write a new story that touches on their experiences. I previously included Native characters in my poetry and in The Battle for Democracy novel. Every time I drive through a reservation on my many migrations cross-country, I want to do a more in depth research trip. But other than stopping at a horse farm, at some sites, at the Native shops along the road and some museums, I feel as if I haven't done as much closeup research to-date. But since their culture keeps inspiring me to bring Native characters into my stories, the least I can do is read books like this that browse over subjects that I would be particularly embarrassed if I got wrong because I only did online research. So, I'm excited that this book has joined my collection for free.

This book is particularly appealing because unlike introductory books that focus on individual tribes or even parts of tribes, or talk about Native Americans' mythology and other nebulous and ungrounded topics, this one is firmly rooted in facts of proven historic record. In addition, it is broad and covers tribes, settlements and traditions of not only Native people in the Northeast, Southwest, Midwest and the like, but also in Alaska and Hawaii. Hawaii is a relatively new state, so its people are frequently treated in separate books, just as Australian aboriginals aren't treated in the same book with American Natives. The authors explain in the Introduction that upon their publisher's request, they also included some brief information about Native people in other parts of North America: Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Greenland. Those sections are pretty detailed, with information about notable people, major tribes or "communities," population statistics, modern issues, and historical event datelines. This wide encyclopedic coverage makes it ideal for fiction writers and those who research Native Americans and want to have a reference guide if a question pops up.

There are many photographs, paintings, graphs, historical documents and other archival images in the book, which makes for an enjoyable read. I think it would also be palatable for a Native American history college class. …

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