For thousands of years, the only inhabitants of our continent were various tribes of Native Americans, all of which had different languages and cultures but lived in harmony with nature. This all changed in 1492, when Europeans began arriving and seizing great tracts of land belonging to Native Americans; for kids, this issue offers a somber look at how this act, along with broken treaties, diseases, and wars, nearly wiped out Native Americans. Discriminatory policies and forced migration to reservations also played a role in killing off 95% of Native Americans; for kids disturbed by this fact, they will be heartened to know that in the last 30 years, the government’s treatment of Native Americans has been improving – but is it too little, too late?
Compelling accounts of Tecumseh and other heroic Native Americans, for kids, will give them a sense of the pride and perseverance that kept the tribes going. They will also be drawn in by descriptions of powwows and sacred religious practices, and learn about the crafts and clothing that distinguished each tribe. Kids will especially enjoy reading about the sports that Native Americans played – which, unsurprisingly, are played in sacred ways to honor the dead, build social ties, and train warriors. They’ll also be surprised to find out that modern-day lacrosse developed out of a game called “Little Brother of War,” and will probably want to try some of these games out themselves!