________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 7 . . . . November 21, 2008

cover A Native American Thought of It: Amazing Inventions and Innovations.

Rocky Landon with David MacDonald.
Toronto, ON: Annick, 2008.
48 pp., pbk. & hc., $9.95 (pbk.), $19.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55451-154-9 (pbk.),
ISBN 978-1-55451-155-6 (hc.).

Subject Headings:
Indians of North America-Science-Juvenile literature.
Indians of North America-Material culture-Juvenile literature.
Inventions-North America-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-6 / Ages 8-11.

Review by Ian Stewart.

*** /4


Native communities in different areas of North America were successful at different types of innovations. Some communities were excellent toolmakers, while others had a talent for creating forms of transportation, such as toboggans and birch bark canoe. Some groups were especially good at farming, developing new techniques for planting and harvesting crops. Others learned how understanding the migration patterns of animals could make them more effective hunters. Most of the innovations you will read about in this book were developed before the arrival of Europeans in 1492. Some innovations, such as the toboggan and snowshoes, have changed very little over the centuries and are now used by people of many cultures. Other innovations have been adapted over time. For example, modern canoes are made from different materials, yet the basic design is very much like the Native canoes developed long before Europeans came to North America.


Rocky Landon, an Ojibwa originally from Wabigoon, ON, has written an entertaining and informative book detailing how the Native peoples of North America were amazingly creative in adapting to their harsh and dangerous environment and at developing techniques and innovations to improve their chances of survival in every situation imaginable. Students learn about shelter, hunting, fishing, clothing, medicine, transportation, communication, fun, war and peace, and Native Americans today. Landon does not limit his discussion to only one tribe or region. Instead, he shows the diversity of First Peoples' across North America.

     Every chapter offers attention-grabbing facts that will intrigue students and inspire new learning. In his chapter on shelter, for example, he describes how, where and why the wigwam, wickiup, tipi, longhouse, plank house, chickee, earth house and adobe house were the best form of shelter for each region of the continent. The chapter on healing and medicine illustrates the First Nations peoples' use of herbal remedies to treat many common heath problems and which ones they used to make their day-to-day lives enjoyable. The chapter on Native Americans today reveals how diverse cultural activities and pride in past achievements are celebrated and maintained, even as adaptations and strides are made by Natives to become integral players in the context of the larger North American society.

     The unique archival images included in the volume have clearly been chosen with great care and add immensely to the book's worth to both students and teachers. Even though a book on the Inuit has been written for the "We Thought of It" series, leaving the contributions and innovations made by the Inuit people completely out of this volume is a significant shortcoming.


Ian Stewart teaches at David Livingstone School in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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