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Image 2 Communications Inc., 1990. VHS cassette, 15:00 min., audio cassette, 8 min. Kit $109.00. Includes user's guide.
Distributed by See Hear Now! Media

Grades 4 to 8/Ages 9 to 13
Reviewed by Anne Kelly.

Volume 19 Number 1
1991 January

Bear Paw News is an interesting approach to teaching about native peoples. Its setting is a school news­room, where three friends - Lenore, Jeff and Dawn - are working on the next edition of the paper. Together they explore the topic of native communica­tions, using stories, videotapes, books and elders to gather information.

The teacher's guide that accompanies this videotape is excellent. It is full of exciting ideas and could be used on its own. Unfortunately, the videotape itself has some flaws.

The topic covered is extremely broad. In an attempt to squeeze all the informa­tion onto a fifteen-minute tape, the producers present too much too quickly. This is particularly true at the beginning during the discussion of petroglyphs and pictographs. Inserted sections such as the description of the powwow, which takes place "outside" the news­room, seem to work better. The infor­mation is more detailed and is pre­sented more slowly than the newsroom dialogues.

There is a disturbing contrast between the high-tech newsroom (complete with VCR, typewriters, telephones) and the long-ago world of the native peoples described. Although native television and radio are men­tioned briefly, these topics are not elaborated on. This creates a technology gap, which casts native peoples in a stereotyped, "uncivilized" role.

The characterization of the students is also stereotyped and does not always ring true. Lenore, the research person, borders on being a know-it-all. Both Lenore and Dawn are smarter than Jeff, who seems at times to be unbelievably stupid. (For example, during a discus­sion of sign language he comments, 'That's like talking with your hands.") Lenore is also condescending in her conversation with Archie, the elder who discusses the importance of the pow­wow. These messages, though subtle, are dangerous ones to be sending to elementary school children.

Despite these faults, Bear Paw News is not a bad videotape. It was an ambi­tious project, and with lots of back­ground information and follow-up activities (including a discussion of stereotypes), Bear Paw News could be a useful tool in teaching native studies.

Anne Kelly, YMCA-YWCA of Dartmouth, Dartmouth, N.S.
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