________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 28 . . . . March 23, 2012


Native American Games and Stories.

James Bruchac & Joseph Bruchac. Illustrated by Kayeri Akweks.
Golden, CO: Fulcrum, (Available in Canada from University of Toronto Press), 2000.
96 pp., pbk., $18.95.
ISBN 978-1-55591-979-5.

Subject Headings:
Indians of North America-Games-Juvenile literature.
Indians of North America-Social life and customs-Juvenile literature.

Grades 5-9 / Ages 10-14.

Review by Daphne Hamilton-Nagorsen.

*** /4



Games of skill often focus on those activities that require the same hand-eye coordination that would be needed for survival. It is easy to see the connection between throwing a spear-shaped stick accurately or shooting an arrow at a moving hoop and being a good hunter.

But even such seemingly simple games as Hoop and Pole, where one player rolls a small hoop and the other tries to throw a pole that is about nine feet long so that it goes into the hoop and stops it, could be very complicated. For example, the hoop might be divided into four colors, with the color touched by the upper part of the spear determining the score. Or the spear itself might have different markings on it and the score would depend upon which marking the hoop touched, The Tinneh (Apache) game of Hoop and Pole was incredibly complex in its scoring system, which was based on markings on both the pole and the hoop.

Native American Games and Stories, written by Joseph Bruchac, a well-known Native American writer and storyteller, and his son, James Bruchac, also a writer and storyteller, provides a look at some of the games played by different Native American peoples, along with related stories and legends. This combination of authors is excellent and has resulted in an extremely well-written and well put together book.

internal art       The book is broken into sections based on the type of games (ball games, games of chance, etc.). Each section gives a brief overview of that type of game, followed by one or more related stories. The final part of each section presents the instructions for two to five games. The structure of the book works well as it not only introduces the different types of games, but it also allows the reader to see how the games are presented in Native American stories and culture.

      Each specific game is presented with well-written instructions. An overview of the game and how it is played are then followed by the suggested rules, how to score the game and any equipment that is needed. The sections are clearly indicated, which makes it easy to quickly look up information on that game. The only problem in the presentation of the games is a lack of any suggested ages for the players. Although some games, like Stickball, include a note about a modified version for younger players, there are no guidelines for what ages that could be playing the games. As a result, anyone wanting to play one of the games should read the instructions very carefully to ensure that the game is age-appropriate.

      Native American Games and Stories is a great resource about some of the games played by different Native American tribes, as well as the role that these games have played in Native American culture. This book would be good for many different types of readers, including as a resource for teachers.


Daphne Hamilton-Nagorsen is a graduate of the School of Library, Archival and Information Studies at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC.

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

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