Have you ever wondered what real, everyday life might have looked like on the plains in the Buffalo Days? Real children lived and grew in real families, and they’re not very far from us now. Michael Oren Fitzgerald’s Children of the Tipi brings them so close a four-year-old child could understand.
Carefully chosen topics are illustrated in full-page spreads of this slim hardback book, with photographs drawn from ancient archives and lovingly displayed. A whole history, and a whole different culture, is made readily visible through the lens of the camera. Sepia tones jump clear and bright from the page, lit up by colored touches here and there in more modern images, with faces clear and plenty to attract a young mind. What is the woman doing who sits with a cloth laid over her knee? What is the girl’s doll made of? Why isn’t there a point on the little boy’s arrow?
The text is nicely laid out, large enough to be easily read without being intrusive. And the editing is masterful, conveying the words of foremost members of American Indian tribes in simple sentences that children will understand. The book reads like sitting at the knee of an elder, learning the ways of the past and their present relevance to modern life at the same time.
“Kids learned just through listening and watching. Then they tried,” says Agnes Yellowtail Deernose of the Absaroke. Let your children listen as your read from this book. Let them ask their questions, then ponder the answers together since sometimes listening will matter more than explaining ever can. These words demand to be read with respect, and so they teach respect.
I saw a dog pulling a travois—what child can resist such an image? And a woman making a pot the same way as I learned at school in England. I watched the dance and saw the hunter stand in awe at the beauty of a valley below. I read, “The Great Spirit is everywhere… it is not necessary to speak to Him in a loud voice,” (Black Elk, Oglala Lakota). I learned that “your children… are lent to you by the Creator,” is a Mohawk Proverb as well as a lesson taught in Christian churches when a small child dies. And I finished the book ready to read it again, to enjoy the pictures, to share the words, and to tell all my friends what a wonderful experience it is.
Enjoy Children of the Tipi with your children or grandchildren—or greatgranchildren. Or enjoy it on your own and feel young again in a younger time of this land.
Disclosure: I was lucky enough to be asked if I would review this. I’m so glad I said yes!
What did you think of this review?
Fun to Read
About the reviewer
Sheila Deeth (SheilaDeeth)
Sheila Deeth's first novel, Divide by Zero, has just been released in print and ebook formats. Find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, etc. Her spiritual speculative novellas can be found at … more