A collection of intersecting stories set at a powwow that bursts with hope, joy, resilience, the strength of community, and Native pride.
In a high school gym full of color and song, Native families from Nations within the borders of the U.S. and Canada dance, sell beadwork and books, and celebrate friendship and heritage. They are the heroes of their own stories.
Featured contributors: Joseph Bruchac, Art Coulson, Christine Day, Eric Gansworth, Dawn Quigley, Carole Lindstrom, Rebecca Roanhorse, David A. Robertson, Andrea L. Rogers, Kim Rogers, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Monique Gray Smith, Traci Sorell, Tim Tingle, Erika T. Wurth, and Brian Young.
I 100% loved this book. So many different stories, different traditions and view points that all come together in this one gymnasium in Ann Arbor, Michigan at the intertribal powwow, Dance for Mother Earth. Every story was connected in some way, and it was fun to pick up on those intersections. This book offers so much traditional and cultural information from so many different tribes and walks of life, where one can learn about food and dress and stories; about prejudices and trauma, connection and family. I also enjoyed the glossary at the end.
Although I enjoyed every story, I did have a few favorites. In Fancy Dancer by Monique Gray Smith, Rory finds connection to family, old and new, through dance, while dealing with the trauma of an abusive father, who is no longer in his life physically but still is very present in Rory’s mind. Bad Dog by Joseph Bruchach was also a favorite of mine, as was What We Know About Glaciers by Christine Day. But my very favorite was Indian Price by Eric Gansworth. I thought that story just had so many layers to unwrap and examine and learn from.
One reason I wanted to read this book is because I have actually attended this powwow, as a college student way back when. Billy and I went for one one of my classes, we tried Fry Bread, sat in the stands as the dancers made their way in to the sound of the drumbeats, felt the excitement that was charging the air around us. At the time, I admit, I had no real idea of what I was actually witnessing and participating in by attending. So much went over my head, and now, as an adult who has read more and experienced more, I can look back and see what I didn’t see then. I am hoping to take Wyatt to this powwow in a year or two, as it is open door to anyone who wants to go. To quote Fancy Dancer, “Native people travel from all over to go to powwows, but non-Natives are welcome too. That’s part of the beauty of the powwow, the sharing of cultures.” I look forward to the next time we go, this time taking with us more knowledge.
This book is a wonderful collection of stories for middle grades, and I highly recommend it for any classroom or home library!
Thank you to NetGalley and HarperCollins Children’s Books for the chance to read and review this book!