Review of Peacemaker

by Joseph Bruchac
Intermediate, Middle School    Dial    160 pp.    g
1/21    978-1-9848-1537-8    $16.99
e-book ed.  978-1-9848-1538-5    $9.99

“There’s no story more important to the People of the Longhouse, the Haudenosaunee (or Iroquois) Nations than that of the Peacemaker.” The Peacemaker story has been told for centuries, and while major features remain the same, individual storytellers can add their own spins. Bruchac relates the tale through the eyes of twelve-year-old Okwaho, whose family broke off from the conflict-riddled “big village,” Onondaga. Okwaho and his friend Tawis are out hunting when Tawis is kidnapped by men from a neighboring nation. Consumed with anger and guilt, Okwaho wishes to seek revenge, while the village adults contemplate rejoining Onondaga for safety. Chief Atatarho will allow them to return only if everyone in the village successfully runs the gauntlet — a difficult task. Then a stranger appears with a message from the Peacemaker. Through the eyes of a preteen boy, readers come to understand the losses that resulted from the wars between Native nations. The Peacemaker story affected not only the Iroquois Nation but also the United States itself. In his appended note, Bruchac states that the tale was “admired by such Founding Fathers as Benjamin Franklin [and] held up as one of the models for the United States Constitution and American democracy in general.”

From the July/August 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Nicholl Denice Montgomery

Nicholl Denice Montgomery is currently working on a PhD at Boston College in the curriculum and instruction department. Previously, she worked as an English teacher with Boston Public Schools.

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