CM . . .
. Volume XVIII Number 25. . . .March 2, 2012
At the Heart of It = Dene dzó t'áré. (The Land is our Storybook).
Raymond Taniton & Mindy Willett. Photographs by Tessa Macintosh.
Markham, ON: Fifth House/Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2011.
32 pp., hardcover, $16.95.
Grades 3-7 / Ages 8-12.
Review by Linda Ludke.
I am Raymond, son of Alfred and Jane Taniton, grandson of Louie and Rosia Taniton and Jean and Camilla Karkeye. I am proud to be Sahtugot'ine, which means "the people of Great Bear Lake." I live in Deline, on the shore of this great lake that we call Sahtu. When people come here they are impressed with our respectful youth and beautiful community. They ask me to describe what we do here to make it this way."
At The Heart of It is the seventh book in the "The Land is our Storybook" series. The narrator is Raymond Taniton, a former Sahtugot'ine chief, who lives in Deline, Northwest Territories. Taniton introduces readers to his family and way of life. Throughout the book, highlighted phrases summarize tenets integral to Dene culture: "A connected community is at the heart of it;" "Our stories are at the heart of it. They help us to know who we are and where we come from;" "The land is at the heart of it all."
The candid photographs and engaging text make you feel as if you are looking through a family album and sharing a conversation. An introductory letter signed by Taniton opens the book. His mother, Jane Taniton, makes beautiful moose-and-caribou-tanned moccasins with detailed beadwork, and they appear as a border along the top of the pages. Alfred Taniton, Raymond's father, also contributes a story, "Sahtu k'aowe (The Land is the Boss)," that has been passed orally through generations. Instructions to make a traditional Dene drum are included, as well as information on spiritual gatherings. Sidebars show Sahtugot'ine translations of English words, and a glossary and timeline of Deline events are provided at the end of the book.
This noteworthy series features authentic voices and experiences that are not often heard.
Linda Ludke is a librarian in London, ON.
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