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Children of Native America Today
Yvonne Wakim Dennis & Arlene Hirschfelder
Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge, 2003
64 pp., $19.95, hardcover
ISBN: 1-57091-499-0

Editors note: This book was reviewed by Shauna Martinez (age 10) and her aunt, Glenabah Martinez. Short bios are included at the end of this review.

The intent of the authors, Yvonne Dennis (Cherokee and Arab) and Arlene Hirschfelder (no identity indicated), was to present a realistic portrayal of Indigenous youth from the Western hemisphere. Guiding their presentation is the theme of cultural diversity that exists among Indigenous Peoples today. Youth - Indigenous and non-Indigenous - and their relations are the intended audience of this book.

The book is organized by geographic region: northeast, southeast, central, plains, basin-plateau, southwest, California/Washington, Alaska, Hawaii, and urban. While there are over 500 First Nations in north and central America alone, the authors selected three Nations - or what they call "tribes" - for presentation in each geographic region.

General information about the First Nation, photographs of children, and a section called "more facts about [the First Nations People being presented]" is presented on two pages. At the end of the book, there is a list of resources for readers who are interested in learning more about Indigenous Peoples. Most of these books can be located in the library system at the University of New Mexico (UNM) and specifically at the Native American Studies library at UNM. A glossary of terms is also provided at the end of the book.

Generally speaking, we enjoyed this book and we agree that it could be useful for someone who is interested in reading about Indigenous Peoples.

Shauna: "I thought it was a good book because it explains about different pueblos and cultures. There are different Native American kids in the United States. I enjoyed reading about the Hawaiian kids because I learned that the Hawaiian Peoples invented surfing. The Hawaiian water is getting polluted because people on the motor boats and the big hotels are polluting the water. The pollution is bad for the plants and fish. I also learned that there are eight Islands and there are 401, 162 Native Hawaiians."

Glenabah also thought the book was useful: "I enjoyed reading about the economy and the way Indigenous People feel about their land and natural resources. I particularly enjoyed reading about the Havasupai who live at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Shauna is reminding me about how they have to walk or ride horses from the top where they park their cars and trucks. I also thought about how wonderful the waterfalls and deep blue pools must feel on a hot summer day."

We decided that if someone was writing a report and needed information, this book would be helpful because it explains a lot about Indigenous peoples.

The only weakness that we found with this book was pointed out earlier by my mother, Shauna's grandmother - Florence Mirabal - that the section about pueblo kids was too general and did not mention Taos. While Taos is quite famous for many things, we feel that Taos is an important place for history because the Pueblo Revolt began there and because we were the first First Nations People to regain our sacred land (Blue Lake) based on an argument of freedom of religion.

We believe this book would be useful for students in third, fourth, fifth and sixth grades because it's easy to read and easy to understand. Shauna also found the facts about the reservations and communities, population, important people to know, and neighbors might be helpful. We also liked the pictures because they gave us a good idea of the people and what they look like and what they do. Shauna would like to see the librarian at Monte Vista Elementary School order this book.

— Shauna Martinez &
Glenabah M. Martinez

My name is Shauna Martinez and I go to school at Monte Vista. I am ten years old. I grew up in Taos (pueblo) and I am from Cochiti, Zuni, Navajo, and Taos. My mother is Cochiti and Zuni. My dad is Taos and Navajo. When I go home to Taos I like to play with my friends and sell with my grandma.

My name is Glenabah M. Martinez and I am assistant professor at UNM. I am half Taos and half Navajo. I grew up at Taos and was fortunate to learn my Native language - Tiwa - and learned about our traditions from my grandparents by participating in it on a daily basis.

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"When uranium mining and processing became big business during the Cold War, the federal government subsidized the industry. Most of the United States' uranium came out of Navajo ground. The Navajo people had a nominal say in the process at the time, but have endured all of the consequences since then. The land was torn open for our nuclear arsenal and the Navajo people are still dying from the cancers and illnesses that it caused.

I do not want a fourth generation of my people to suffer from the physical, psychological and cultural devastation caused by predatory energy practices. The lack of tribal consent contained in the Indian Energy title means that the federal government could override the Navajo law that prohibits uranium-mining activities on our land."
–Joe Shirley, Jr. President, Navajo Nation
"Senate Energy Bill Exploits Indian Resources"
Albuquerque Journal, July 18, 2003

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