________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 13 . . . . February 22, 2008

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Iroquois. (Canadian Aboriginal Art and Culture).

Michelle Lomberg.
Calgary, AB: Weigl, 2008.
32 pp., hardcover, $23.95.
ISBN 978-1-55388-343-2.

Subject Heading:
Iroquois Indians-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-6 / Ages 8-11.

Review by Gail Hamilton.

*** /4

   
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Métis. (Canadian Aboriginal Art and Culture).

Jennifer Howse.
Calgary, AB: Weigl, 2008.
32 pp., hardcover, $23.95.
ISBN 978-1-55388-337-1.

Subject Heading:
Métis-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-6 / Ages 8-11.

Review by Gail Hamilton.

*** /4

   
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Haida. (Canadian Aboriginal Art and Culture).

Jennifer Nault.
Calgary, AB: Weigl, 2008.
32 pp., hardcover, $23.95.
ISBN 978-1-55388-329-6.

Subject Heading:
Haida Indians-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-6 / Ages 8-11.

Review by Gail Hamilton.

*** /4

excerpt:

The Haida believed that everyone had a soul. It was the shaman's responsibility to take care of lost souls. The shaman used a carved, hollow bone called a soul-catcher to capture the lost soul and keep it until it could be returned to its owner. During ceremonies, shamans used other sacred items as well. Rattles and charms were used to connect with the spirit world. (From Haida.)


Part of the nine-volume "Canadian Aboriginal Art and Culture" series, these books provide information about a variety of topics, including homes, clothing, food, tools and weapons, religion, celebrations and ceremonies, music and dance, language and storytelling, and art. In fact, with only one or two exceptions, all the chapter headings in these three titles are identical. Each book also has a timeline, an art activity to try and a recipe for a traditional food from the specific culture. The text is written in fairly short sentences and is easy to comprehend. A table of contents, a glossary, an index and a list of books and web sites for further research are included. Illustrations consist of a map indicating the area of Canada in which the particular group of people settled, and colour photographs and illustrations, some of which depict life long ago and others, modern times. Though the books contain an adequate amount of information, they are quite short- only 32 pages (including the glossary, index and reading list). Another minor flaw is that the recipes might not be appealing to children, nor would some of the ingredients be readily available in the kitchen.

     Iroquois focuses on the groups that make up the Iroquois Confederacy, the clan system, longhouses, the staples in the Iroquois' diet (corn, beans and squash, which were known as the Three Sisters), and wampum belts, among other topics. Wampum belts, made from colored shell beads, had deep spiritual meaning and were used to record stories and important events as well as to send messages or invitations. This title also features Iroquois artist, Tom Hill, the 2004 winner of the Governor General's Award in Visual and Media Arts. Readers will be able to make corn husk dolls and Mohawk corn bread.

     Métis provides information about the lifestyle and contributions of the people whose communities sprang up along fur trade routes. As the Métis were the children of European and First Nations unions, their art, spirituality and music, among other things, reflected the influence of both cultures. Traditional "fabrics," such as elk, deer and moose skin, were often embroidered with cotton and velvet; the people's religion was a unique blend of Aboriginal spirituality and Christian beliefs; and the European influence can be seen - and heard - in jigging and fiddle music. Other contributions of this culture included York boats and Red River carts for transporting goods, and tufting, an embroidery technique using white guard hairs from moose or caribou, and the Red River sash which was used as a belt, rope, bandage or sling. In this title, readers have the instructions for a tufting project, with cotton balls simulating the animal hairs. There is also a recipe for pemmican. A beadwork artist is featured.

     The Haida, hunters and gatherers who have a close relationship with nature, have been in North America for over 8,000 years. Haida discusses the Haida's two social groups, Raven and Eagle, as well as their cedar plank homes, special tools for catching fish, whales and seals, the different roles of male and female shamans, and the cedar-bark clothing and spruce root baskets for which the Haida are known. An artistic technique, called "flat design" (black outlines filled in with red), is characteristic of Haida art and can be seen in crests, masks, totem poles and houses. A recipe for halibut soup and instructions for making a Haida mask are included.

     This series provides just enough information for elementary school students.

Recommended.

Gail Hamilton is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.
 

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