In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse

 
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In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse
Publisher
Age Range
8+
Release Date
November 10, 2015
ISBN
9781419707858
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Jimmy McClean is a Lakota boy—though you wouldn’t guess it by his name: his father is part white and part Lakota, and his mother is Lakota. When he embarks on a journey with his grandfather, Nyles High Eagle, he learns more and more about his Lakota heritage—in particular, the story of Crazy Horse, one of the most important figures in Lakota and American history. Drawing references and inspiration from the oral stories of the Lakota tradition, celebrated author Joseph Marshall III juxtaposes the contemporary story of Jimmy with an insider’s perspective on the life of Tasunke Witko, better known as Crazy Horse (c. 1840–1877). The book follows the heroic deeds of the Lakota leader who took up arms against the US federal government to fight against encroachments on the territories and way of life of the Lakota people, including leading a war party to victory at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Along with Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse was the last of the Lakota to surrender his people to the US army. Through his grandfather’s tales about the famous warrior, Jimmy learns more about his Lakota heritage and, ultimately, himself.

Editor reviews

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The path of Crazy Horse
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
Jimmy is bullied by his classmates at school because he has blue eyes, light skin, and a Scottish last name, which is not usual for a Lakota boy. His grandfather, seeing that he is not happy, decides to take him on a road trip to teach him about Crazy Horse, who was known as "Light Hair" when young and whom Jimmy resembles. The two travel to a variety of sites where Crazy Horse himself traveled. The grandfather shares stories of the history of that time, which is sometimes at odds with the "official" histories posted at the historic sites because "History is written by the victors." Jimmy learns through these stories of Crazy Horse's bravery in fighting, as well as in choosing not to fight when it would mean the destruction of innocent women and children, and uses these lessons to stand up to his tormentors when he returns to school.
Good Points
Marshall has written previous books for adults about Crazy Horse, so the research is well done, and it's one of the few books about Native Americans that meets with the approval of reviewers who know more about that culture than I do. There is a map of the duos travels across South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana, and the sites they visit are ones that readers can see online. It would also be interesting to read about them and compare the grandfather's information about the events to the National Park Service's.

The book moves quickly from place to place, and the stories are generally exciting. Younger readers will not find the text to be too difficult, and while there is violence, it is not too graphic. I appreciated that while the grandfather acknowledges the atrocities committed by the military against the Native Americans, he also understands that no one wins when fighting occurs.

Readers who are curious about the role of Native Americans during Westward Expansion and want a recounting of events that may differ from their social studies books will do well to pick up this book and travel with Jimmy and his grandfather.
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