Monday, June 16, 2008

Do All Indians live in Tipis? Questions and Answers from the National Museum of the American Indian

This book is written as a series of questions about American Indians, from questions recieved at the titular museum mentioned in the title. They range from the "Do All Indians Live in Tipis?" of the title (the answer to which was "No", of course, followed by an explanation of how mainly plains Indians lived in Tipis, which were made of buffalo skins, and goes on to explain how some other Indian tribes lived, from Longhouses in the Northeast, to adobe Hogans in the Southwest, but that most American Indians today live in houses) to questions on Identity, Myths, Origins and Histories, Love and Marriage, Clothing, and more.

Each of the answers is provided by a person of actual Native American Ancestry and cover many diverse topics. One I found most interesting was the Question "Was Tonto a real Indian?", in which we learn the actor, Jay Silverheels, really was Native American, and through his role, and his activism, pioneered the practice of Native Americans in television and movies being played by actual Native Americans and not white people in makeup.

Another interesting bit of information comes from a question about Native American Code-talkers during World War 2. Although we have generally thought of them as all Navajho, the Navy used their own version of Code-talkers from among the Cherokee tribe, to similar effect.

Questions range from the mundane (Did Indians Wear Socks?) to the Spiritual (What is the Native American Religion?) and cover just about every topic in-between. While some of the questions I already knew the answer to, each answer managed to include some bit of information I didn't know, and thus made the entire book interesting for me.

An excellent book to recommend to people who are interested in Native American peoples and want to know the real facts straight from the Horse's mouth, so to speak. Even people who are generally knowledgable about Native American peoples will find a great deal to like in this book.

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