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The Horse and the Plains Indians: A Powerful Partnership Hardcover – July 10, 2012
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Editing of the ARC seems to be lacking. While "The Horse and the Plains Indians" prologue set the tone for its primary focus, chapter 1 contained a section titled "Helpful Dogs." That portion interrupts the flow of the subject matter narrative and seems misplaced as located. It might have worked advantageously as a preface or as the first section of Chapter 1.
In "The Horse and the Plains Indians," Chapter 5 deals with the decorative painting of horses and the gear Indians created for their animals. The third sentence states a few women became warriors and were treated as men. However, it is the only sentence in the chapter dealing with women; an expanded narrative would enhance that point.
Chapter 7 deals with the forced transition of Native Americans into the white man's world. In the section "Richard Pratt and the Carlisle School," one sentence deals with the building of "...wooden barracks for themselves in the fresh ocean air..." As written, it sounds as if the wooden barracks floated above the earth's surface; careful editing should have corrected this absurdity. Dorothy Hinshaw Patent's work deserves better.
Dorothy Hinshaw Patent obviously respects Native Americans and their role in America's history. Chapter 8, "Indians and Horses Today," added nothing to "The Horse and the Plains Indians." It could be omitted without detriment to the overall scope of the work.
Overall, Dorothy Hinshaw Patent has given readers an interesting, informative overview with her work "The Horse and the Plains Indian."
I'll give you some examples of what I mean: (complaints fall in no particular order)
I found the narrative to be jumbled. Historical chapters are followed by chapters on culture-and-gear, which in turn are then followed by more history, and then more chapters on culture-and-gear.
This shifting back and forth can be successfully done, of course, but the narrative connecting the material has to be stronger. In a book meant for middle graders I would have expected more obvious writing to the effect that this is just what we learned, and now this is how that ties in to what we are now going to learn.
A sample transition would be the last sentence of chapter 4 and the first sentence of Chapter 5. "Some horse masks have eyeholes surrounded by lightening zigzags or other symbols of power and protection" to "Before horses arrived Indians fought on foot."
-- LACK OF CLARITY
The first chapter is about dogs. You would think that in a book about horses that there would be an explanation for why there are 9 pages dedicated to Native Americans and dogs, but you won't find one in this chapter.
The prologue makes the appropriate connection, but in my experience, most children don't read prologues nor dedications. (So if you are going to use this book make sure you give your young students a heads-up to read the prologue.)
Nez Perce, Blackfeet, Objibwa, Cheyanne, Arapho, Kootenai, Mandan, Sioux.... This book mentions many tribes, multiple states, and various rivers and mountains, and yet no maps. No way for readers to place the tribes in a real eco-system, and no map to help anyone understand where the Rio Grande is, nor where the Mandan might actually have lived.
Beginning on page 17 the book discusses 'horse stories'. One particular story caught my attention. It was about how Indians tried to feed horses meat. Wow, I thought, this is fascinating. But how do we know this? Did this tale come to us as oral history? Was it written down at some point by a white settler, or an anthropologist? Well, we'll never know as there is no source given. (I don't expect footnotes necessarily in a middle school book, but I think it shortchanges the student to not even give a hint -- 'we learned this from oral history passed down from parent to child' -- as to how historians know these things.)
This book actually fills an important void in the material that is available on plains Indians and horses. It provides a lot of good information and it's worth working into a curriculum at school or homeschool. But it's seriously flawed in my opinion. It could have been better organized and the material could have been presented in a clearer fashion. As it is the young reader is going to have to work to get the most out of this material.
Acclerated Reading Level: 7.7 (2 pts)
formerly of PageinHistory
Yet, this is not a mere book of facts. It is an eloquent, enlightening perspective on Native American life and their relationship to the horse. This fascinating subject is thoughtfully explored and related in a way that a younger person can easily grasp. It's a great book to read to an even younger child-both would probably learn a lot!
My daughter had no problem reading and grasping the information, but she did have to ask me how to pronounce about 3-4 words that were foreign to her.
This book addresses some tragic aspects of history, including the small pox epidemic and widespread killings of the Native people as well as the animals they love and depend on for survival. I feel this was both transparent and handled with a sensitivity befitting the weighty subject and its target audience. Not once did I feel I had to censor any part of the book from my child. Our family really appreciates that.
There were a couple of parts where the information was somewhat speculative. Like, "this___ probably means ___, in terms of explaining a few patters & symbols. My daughter wasn't thrilled about the explanations not being definitive. It might have been better to include other photos of objects or symbols that had iron-clad definitions...I don't know. She just didn't like the feeling of not knowing what those things represented FOR SURE.
Still, a great book...an educational as well as entertaining edition to our family library. I would love to see more titles by this author available for review.