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Women and children first: a review of two books about native women.

Women and Children First: A review of two books about Native Women--Choctaw Women in a Chaotic World by Michelene E. Pesantubbee. Albuquerque: UNM, 2005, ISBN#: 0-9263-3333-8 (hardcover), 0-8263-3334-6 (paper), 240 pages, $39.95 (hardcover), $21.95(paper). Meet Lydia: A Native Girl from Southeast Alaska by Miranda Belarde-Lewis. Tulsa:Council Oak, ISBN#:1-57178-147-1, $15.95.

Lifegivers. Visionaries. Beloved Women. Tradition Keepers. Women are widely regarded as sacred throughout Native America. Two recent releases celebrate the role of women, while educating readers regarding gender roles and culure.

Choctaw Women in a Chaotic World:The Clash of Cultures in the Colonial Southeast enlightens readers about the transitions that changed the status of Choctaw women throughout history. Choctaw author Michelene Pesantubbee combines outstanding scholarship, clear writing and fascinating historical facts. The result is a worthwhile read, that charts the changes in a culture, due to colonization and conversion.

According to this author, Choctaw women enjoyed political, social, and spiritual influence in a variety of societal spheres. Ascension to "beloved" was a possibility for remarkable Choctaw women. Yet, during the time period analyzed in this book, the 1600s to 1700s, French colonization and culture diminished this possibility. Religious, cultural and governmental factor lessened the prevalence of the traditional Green Corn Ceremony and the sacred Corn Woman. As a result, women in Choctaw communities found themselves experiencing altered status.

Pesantubbee's text proves to be an interesting commentary on the process of changing women's roles and often, silencing their voices. Choctaw Women in a Chaotic World offers readers an opportunity to understand women's importance in this tribe's history. Further, it provides its audience with a reclamation of women's roles and importance in their families, communities and tribes.

Miranda Belarde-Lewis is a Tlingit/Zuni author, who encourages young readers to appreciate girls' lives. Meet Lydia: A Native Girl from Southeast Alaska shares the story of Lydia Mills, who is a Tlingit girl. "I hope that readers will see that different Natives have different cultures and traditions--we aren't all the same," Lydia declares. This book celebrates Tlingit traditions and demonstrates their unique facets.

Readers learn about Lydia's lifeways. Lydia's regalia and participation in an important Native event represent a focal point of her life. Readers also experience the importance of salmon fishing and preparation, and particular beliefs. An especially vibrant portion of the book demonstrates Lydia's dedication to her language. She spends time teaching younger children, and in the process, learns her language, too.

Review by Kawn Pettigrew

Cherokee, NC
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Title Annotation:"Choctaw Women in a Chaotic World: The Clash of Cultures in the Colonial Southeast" and "Meet Lydia: A Native Girl from Southeast Alaska"
Author:Pettigrew, Kawn
Publication:Whispering Wind
Article Type:Book review
Date:May 1, 2009
Words:412
Previous Article:Across the Wide Missouri.
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