Review of Voices of the People

Voices of the People Voices of the People
by Joseph Bruchac; illus. by various artists
Middle School, High School    Reycraft    96 pp.
12/22    9781478875161    $18.95
Paper ed.  9781478875154    $17.95

“Those you are about to meet are real people, not stereotypes. They are women and men who truly were, through their words and their deeds, voices of the people.” Bruchac’s (Abenaki) biographical poems provide chronological introductions to thirty-four notable Native Americans, from the Peacemaker, a Wendat (Huron) leader who united five warring nations around 1000 C.E., to twentieth-century activist Wilma Mankiller, who was the Cherokee Nation’s first woman head chief. What stand out most, however, are the accompanying reproductions of artwork by different contemporary Native artists working in a variety of media. Bruchac explains his selection process: some artists were paired with biographical subjects from the same tribe; other artists’ work “connects to the subject of the biography in an important way.” An appended “More about the Voices” section provides short ­paragraphs of information about the people highlighted, and Bruchac includes a poem about his own life. Intended, per the author’s note, to educate non-Native readers and to further inspire Native ones, this ambitious undertaking should encourage all people to learn more about the biographical subjects and to seek out work by the featured artists.

From the March/April 2023 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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