Children of Native America Today

Children of Native America Today

  • 995

By: Yvonne Wakim Dennis and Arlene Hirschfelder

Come along on a photographic journey through America's native nations as seen through the eyes of children.

Children of Native America Today invites readers to explore Native nations, focusing on the children who live, learn, and play in tribal communities throughout the United States. These children celebrate a proud heritage, a rich culture, and a close-knit society. They participate in cultural activities such as totem pole carving, storytelling, and dancing at a powwow, as well as enjoying video games, going to school, and other contemporary pastimes.

A map listing the geography of the many nations and culture groups, and resources for further investigation, are included.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of these books is donated to innovative programs benefiting children around the world.

From the Foreword:

Native American children, like all children, are not only their cultures. Even kids from the most traditional Native backgrounds have much in common with all other children: they have families, they grow and change every day, they love and work and play.

Many Native American children, through their families and communities, experience a special cultural richness. These kids understand that they live in a special relationship between the earth and the sky; that they are related to all other creatures; that their cultures are unique and precious. They also know many hard truths: that their native languages are greatly endangered; that their ancestors experienced hatred and violence in their own country; that much of their greatness is unknown to most other people.

But Native children, like all children, should also know that there is tremendous good work to be done in which they can share. They have a future.

- Buffy Sainte-Marie, singer, activist, and founder of The Nihewan Foundation

Look Inside the Book:

Author Bios:

Yvonne Wakim Dennis, author

Yvonne Wakim Dennis draws on her multicultural background for many of her ideas. She is American Indian/Arab, grew up in rural Pennsylvania and attended college in southwestern Ohio during the 60's.

Most of Dennis' books are creative non-fiction about contemporary American Indian life, but she has other projects in the works, too. They include a children's book highlighting diversity in American cities; bios for kids on famous designers and artists, short stories about New York City American Indian women and a quirky and smart novel for kids.

Read more about Yvonne.

Arlene Hirschfelder, author

"Ever since I penned my Master's thesis about the treatment of Indians in high school history texts, I have been determined to help set the record straight."

Arlene B. Hirschfelder is an educator in tobacco history and an authority and public speaker on youth involvement in tobacco control activities over the past one hundred years. She is also a widely recognized scholar on contemporary Native American issues, has published over a dozen books in the field, and has worked as a freelance editor and author of curricular materials about Native American ceremonial tobacco use and tobacco abuse for the National Cancer Institute project reducing Cancer Risks Among Native American Youth.

Hirschfelder earned a B.A. from Brandeis University and an M.A.T. from the University of Chicago. She lives in Northern New Jersey.

Read more about Arlene.

Awards & Honors:

  • CCBC Choices
  • Notable Books for a Global Society

Editorial Reviews:

Book Links

This title contains two-page features on 25 contemporary Native American communities. Each spread briefly describes the history of the tribe and then shows what life is like for its members today. A helpful map shows the locations of the Native American communities profiled. The book helps dispel the myth that most American Indians live on reservations, revealing that more than half reside in urban areas.

Kirkus Reviews

A well thought-out, neatly executed, and extremely attractive volume that strives to fulfill the promise of its title. There are more than 500 Native American cultures: on two-page profiles arranged geographically, the authors focus on about 26 groups from the Haudenosaunee (the Six Iroquois Nations) of New York to the Iñupiat of Alaska. Striking color photos of children in both traditional and contemporary activities adorn each, along with a fact box giving population, communities, and people of note. A map of the US locates them across the country. The authors strive to give their young readers the sense of the struggle to preserve traditional cultures and values alongside a very contemporary life with activities every child will recognize. They do it in a lively style, too, full of rhetorical "did you know?" queries, a sprinkling of exclamation points, and bits about the code talkers and skywalkers. Information is sometimes fascinating, or even touching-state senator Bill Tellowtail asked for his Crow clan's counsel before he ran for office; Supai, in Arizona, can only get mail via pack-mule train. There's even a page for Native people living in cities; after all, New York City has the largest Native American population in the country. An invaluable and attractive resource, particularly for younger children.


This photo-essay features 25 of the more than 500 native cultures of the U.S. as well as a section on urban Indians. In this "book of few words and many pictures," the clear, captioned photographs speak eloquently of contemporary Native American young people. Some show Indian kids in traditional clothing while other picture them in T-shirts and sandals. Some shots feature lacrosse teams and canoeing; others show Indian children playing golf and videotaping. Each group is introduced in a two-page spread that includes pronunciation and a brief, but lively, narrative covering major businesses and interesting cultural tidbits. A quick facts section notes locations of reservations and communities, total population, prominent people "to learn about," and tribes. A map, an extensive list of resources, and a glossary add valuable information and access. This updates Arlene Hirschfelder's Happily May I Walk (1986) but is for younger students. An excellent resource for multicultural studies, this handsome album will also attract browsers.

School Library Journal

This glossy photo-essay helps show students some of the variety and diversity in the lives of 25 contemporary Native communities and features youngsters living in both rural and urban settings. The book is arranged by region, with each spread profiling a tribe. The narrative provides a fact section with lists of the reservations or communities for each nation, the total population, some prominent people, and the names of neighboring tribes. The text presents interesting facts abut each group; for example, the Passamaquoddy tribe has the third largest blueberry farm in the world. The large typeface and lush photographs make this an inviting title. Reminiscent of Diane Hoty-Goldsmith's Totem Pole (1990;o.p.) or her Potlatch: A Tsimshian Celebration (1997, both Holiday), this special book belongs in all libraries.


ISBN: 978-1-57091-499-7

ISBN: 978-1-57091-965-7

Ages: 8-11
Page count: 64
8 12 x 11

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