Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Wolf, Joan M. Runs With Courage.

Wolf, Joan M.  Runs With Courage.  Sleeping Bear Press  2016  211p $16.99  ISBN 978-1-58536-984-3     elem/ms  Historical fiction  E-BN 

Step by step, Four Winds learns the truth at the boarding school run by white missionaries in the 1880 Dakotas: the truth being that she has absolutely no voice about anything in her life.  The missionaries chop her hair, remove all signs of her native Lakota culture and immerse her in language learning, forbidding her to speak Lakota.  Next, she learns that disobeying her teachers leads to punishment.  When her tribe told her she had to attend the school to help bridge the gap between whites and the people of her nation, she believed that she had a role to fulfill.  But another truth she learns once she is at the school?  Had she refused to attend, the government would have withheld food from her tribe.  The biggest truth she learns is that the whites intend to get rid of the “savage” within each and every Lakota Sioux, thus insuring full assimilation into the new America, a white America.  Supporting characters in this novel are full-fledged, dynamic characters, each with a role to fulfill in helping Four Winds survive.  Her classmates, her new friend William, her family, and even her teachers push her to realize her job, which is to learn as much about the whites as possible.  By the time the reader reaches the end, he/she realizes that Four Wind’s destiny was foreshadowed as becoming an educator of her tribe and a bridge between the two groups.  Perhaps the most interesting parts of this novel are not the plot and characters, but the new lessons that Four Winds learns in her total immersion.  Young minds will be forced to think about each new concept, object and cultural tradition that Four Winds encounters during her schooling.  This book should be required reading for social-studies classes studying the defeat of the native Americans and what they have endured to find themselves anew as a part of our nation.          

Summary: Four Winds has a story to tell, and as narrator she describes her experiences at a boarding school run by white missionaries whose sole job is to indoctrinate native Americans into their role as a defeated nation that needs to be assimilated into white culture.  Four Winds struggles to maintain her cultural identity even as she is forced to change.       

Native Americans-History-Fiction                                                                 —Martha Squaresky

No comments: