Perspective is everything

footstepsIn the Footsteps of Crazy Horse by Joseph Marshall III

I grew up reading a lot of stories about pioneers and watching shows like Little House on the Prairie and Bonanza. My grandpa was a huge Louis L’Amour fan. Among those dramatic visions of settlers moving west, there was little or no diversity, and what there was seemed mostly there to remind me that whatever my ancestors did, they had a right to do it. Need land? “Nobody” is using it…it’s yours! Anyone who didn’t fit into that particular storyline was just standing in the path of progress. Almost everything reinforced this limited view of history in my world.

Of course, I am white, and what passed for history then was related almost entirely from the white perspective.  I might have read a few stories told from a Native American point of view, but I suspect most of them were actually written by white authors. Even if they didn’t do a disservice to their readers, their views might have been less nuanced than someone whose ancestors had had a much different experience.

So when I first heard about In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse, I was excited. A Lakota boy and his grandfather take off on a road trip to follow the same paths Crazy Horse took?  A new perspective?  I’m there.

Through a nice blend of road trip stops and stories which take place in Crazy Horse’s time, Jimmy and his grandfather revisit the life and times of an incredible leader, warrior, and community member. The stories speed along, just as Jimmy and his grandfather do traveling the highways of the upper Plains states. This book is a gift to all kids – both children who are Native American and those who aren’t. It simply and thoughtfully pulls apart the white settlers’ point of view, laying it out there to examine how others might have reacted. Things look much different when you put yourself in these new shoes.

 

 

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