Friday, February 8, 2013

Southeast Indians by Andrew Santella: Book Review

"First Nations of North America" series
Southeast Indians
Author: Andrew Santella
Publisher: Heinemann Library, 2012
Reviewer: Sharon M. Himsl
Age: 8 up, Middle Grade nonfiction
Pages: 48

Native Americans were the first people to settle North America. Scientists believe they migrated from Asia across a Bering Straits land bridge 12,000 years ago. Some settled in the southeast region of North America to as far west as present-day Oklahoma and Texas. The ten diverse tribes within this group, the Chickasaw, Cherokee, Catawba, Creek, Choctaw, Natchez, Seminole, Apalachee, Timucua, and Calusa, are known as the Southeast Indians. Santella tells their story, tracing their ancestral history and culture to the present. Readers learn how early Southeast Indians lived and survived—about their diet, crops planted, clothing, body adornments, hunting techniques, tools and weapons, house styles, transportation, and family life in the different clans. Included are the roles expected of boys and girls and their elders, the games they played, religious beliefs, and the popular Green Corn Ceremony still practice today. A turning point in their story came with the first non-Indian contact in 1513, when countless Southeast Indians were killed and enslaved by Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León and his expedition. Conflicts and hardships followed as other Europeans settled the region. Over time, the Southeast Indians adapted and many adopted European ways. One Cherokee member, Sequoyah, even invented a syllabary to record their language. However, the centuries old conflict proved futile. In 1830, the tribes were ordered to Indian Territory under the U.S. Indian Removal Act. Thousands traveled west to present-day Oklahoma on what became known as the Trail of Tears. Many died en route and millions of acres of land were later lost. Despite unfair treatment, the tribes survived, and today live throughout the United States. Santella’s presentation is well organized and useful in Native American Social Studies curriculum. Glossary (boldface text) and Timeline are provided. Maps, photos, and sketches are on most pages. Reading level Q.  

Copyright 2013 © Sharon M. Himsl

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