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Native American Classics Review


By Andy Frisk
Mar 24, 2013 - 15:20

native_american_classics.jpg
Edited By: Tom Pomplun, John E. Smelcer and Joseph Bruchac

Highlighting stories, poetry, and the retellings of Native American myths by authors such as Charles Eastman, Zitkala-Sa, Alex Posey, George Copway, John Rollin Ridge, E. Pauline Johnson, Silmon Pokagon, Bertrand N.O. Walker, John E. Smelcer, Joseph Bruchac and illustrated by Robby McMurtry, Timothy Truman, Marty Two Bulls, Sr., Weshoyot Alvitre, Roy Boney, Jr., Tara Audibert, Jay Odjick, Terry Laban, Afua Richardson, and John Findley, Eureka Publications' Native American Classics, the newest volume of their Graphic Classics collection is one of their most worthy publications yet.

Published with the 12 and older demographic in mind, yet totally accessible and age friendly to all, Native American Classics brings to life in sequential art form some of the most touching, funny, sad, and metaphorically powerful stories as told or retold by the above mentioned Native or mixed-blood Native American authors, all of which were writing during the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, but that many outside of scholars of, or members themselves of, Native American culture and literature have wrongly not been introduced to before either through popular or university level literature.

Many of this volume's tales such as "The Soft-Hearted Sioux" by Zitkala-Sa, and adapted by Benjamin Truman and Illustrated by Jim McMunn, Timothy Truman and Mark A. Nelson, recount heartrending tales of cultural loss, clashes, and misunderstandings. Others, like Elias Johnson's "The Hunter and Medicine Legend" (adapted by Andrea Grant and Toby Cypress) recount the sacred and defining mythical histories of various tribes (the Tuscarora Indians in this particular case). Still others like "The Story of Itsikamahidish and Wild Potato" by Buffalo Bird Woman (as told to Gilbert L. Wilson {1914} and adapted by Tom Pomplun and Pat N. Lewis) recount humorous oral tradition lesson-tales of various tribes (of the Hidatsa Tribe of North Dakota in this particular case). Illustrated poems by the likes of Israel Folsom, James Harris Guy, and Simon Pokagon (all also writing in the late 19th Century), beautifully illustrate with words the plight of many Native Americans throughout the whole of the 19th Century.

What is most powerful and important about this collection of Native American literature is that it is representative of Native American authors who are often not anthologized in many classroom intended Early American Literature anthologies. Also, many of the stories are short and rather straight forward when translated into English (as some of the sacred myth tales have obviously been) and their translation into a visual media via sequential art opens them up and revealingly enhances their nature in a way no other art form could. 

A worthy collection to any middle or high school's library, and a valuable text that can be instrumental in illustrating the unique powers of both Native American literature and sequential art as separate, and here mutually enhancing, genres of art, Native American Classics is also, quite simply, a highly enjoyable pleasure read. Highly recommended to the students and lovers of literature and art of all tribes of mankind.  

Rating: 9.5 /10


Last Updated: Feb 14, 2017 - 7:39

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