________________ CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 41. . . .June 21, 2013


Native Americans: A Visual Exploration. (The Big Picture).

S. N. Paleja.
Toronto, ON: Annick Press, 2013.
48 pp., pbk. & hc., $12.95 (pbk.), $21.95(hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55451-484-7 (pbk.),
ISBN 978-1-55451-485-4 (hc.).

Subject Headings:
Indians of North America-Canada-Juvenile literature.
Indians of North America-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-6 / Ages 8-11.

Review by Rachel Yaroshuk.

*** /4



The Navajo language was in decline until World War II, when the US military used Navajo "Code Talkers" to transmit secret messages (Other languages, including Cree, Choctaw, and Cherokee, were also used). This led to a revival and today Navajo is the most spoken Native American language north of Mexico.


Native Americans: A Visual Exploration is an informative book which draws readers into its pages with vibrant pictographic art. The book is segmented into chapters highlighting Native American life, including information on housing and social structure, hunting and gathering practices, language diversity, art and culture, a history of settlement, a brief historical timeline, and present-day Native American society.

    internal art                                                                               The book is prefaced with an introduction by Nlaka'Pamux First Nation member Kevin Loring who explains the use of the term "Native American" as an encompassing term for indigenous peoples across Canada and the United States. While this book does include information related to indigenous peoples of both the United States and Canada, there is slightly more information presented on Native Americans of the United States.

     Author Paleja strikes a good balance in providing an overview of Native American life and history, while acknowledging the diversity within Native American nations. Palejaís selection of text demonstrates respect for Native American cultures, focussing on Native Americanís positive contributions to society in science, technology, and art. The author addresses sensitive topics, including the complex, often tension-filled relations between Native Americans and settlers. In an honest light, Paleja exposes the social injustices experienced by people of Native American decent, without placing stifling guilt or blame on people of settler ancestry.

     The text provided in Native Americans: A Visual Exploration contains a high level of detail, yet the information is presented with simple language that may be easily grasped by children. The text is complemented with colourful maps, timelines, and pictograph inspired art to communicate dense information in an easy and comprehensive format. Each page includes visual illustrations of statistics. Maps are utilized to highlight the vast expanse of Native American territory. Timelines illustrate major historical events. In addition, pictograph inspired art is employed to explain housing and hunting variation amongst Native American nations.

     A "Selected Bibliography", located at the end of the book, highlights the quality of sources consulted in creating this children's book. This section may provide a jumping-off point for further research for adults while the "Further Reading" section that follows offers additional information sources that are appropriate for children. In addition, the book offers an "Index" to facilitate specific information seeking that may be valuable for school assignments.

     Native Americans: A Visual Exploration is an excellent resource that facilitates children's learning about the diversity of Native Americans across Canada and the United States. I would recommend this series for children age eight to eleven, both for school projects and general interest.


Rachel Yaroshuk is an Auxiliary Librarian with the North Vancouver District Public Library.

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

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