Friday, March 8, 2013

Southwest Indians by Melissa McDaniel: Book Review

Southwest Indians“First Nations of North America” series
Southwest Indians
Author: Melissa McDaniel
Publisher:  Heinemann Library, 2012
Reviewer: Sharon M. Himsl
Ages: 8 up, Middle Grade nonfiction
Pages: 48

There are ten major nations in the Southwest Indian family: the Navajo, Apache, Pueblo, Hopi, Zuni, Tohono O’odham, Akimel O’odham, Upland Yumans, and River Yumans. McDaniel describes  their languages, leaders, beliefs, ceremonies, family life, homes, hairstyles, the objects they made, and more. This diverse group settled in present-day Arizona, New Mexico, Mexico, parts of Texas, and surrounding areas. The region’s extreme temperatures in the summer and winter helped define Southwest Indian dress, diet, shelter and culture, McDaniel explains, and finding food was the biggest hurdle. The tribes adapted by using ingenious food gathering methods. The Pueblos, for example, dug canals to channel water to their crops and homes. The Havasupai pounded the ground to drive out rabbits from the underbrush. The Apache hunted large game, while others relied on smaller animals and seasonal nuts, fruits, and seeds.  Few, however, could withstand the violence of first contact when the Spanish arrived in the 1500s. Lives were lost, children stolen, and many enslaved. Deadly disease added to their misery. McDaniel describes the Pueblo revolt in 1680 that caused the Spanish conquerors to flee, and the more peaceful Spanish mission phase that followed, altering beliefs. In the 1800s, white settlement was the next hurdle and Southwest Indians were forced to live on reservations. Despite setbacks, Southwest Indians are proud of their heritage and U.S. citizenship. In World War II, Navajo code talkers created a code that the enemy never broke. Today there are forty-three “official” Southwest Indian nations. Southwest Indians is a good resource and useful in 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


  1. I had to google what a Level Q book was. I learn somethingnew every day!!

  2. First time for me, too:) Teachers probably like this.


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