Monday, August 13, 2012

The Horse and the Plains Indians

The Horse and the Plains Indians:  A Powerful Partnership
by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent, photographs by William Munoz
Houghton Mifflin, 2012. 98 pages. Non-fiction

     Life changed dramatically for the Indians of North America after the conquistadors accidentally gave them horses. Buffalo hunts on foot (DHP explains the laborious and sometimes brutal prospect) gave way to horse and rider, bow and arrow, right on top of the galloping bison soon to fall. Travois formerly pulled by dogs could now be larger and the range of the Indians' travels enlarged as well. Dorothy Hinshaw Patent, queen of non-fiction for children about the West, does it again in this splendid, often heartbreaking story of how Indians came to love and to rely on horses as members of their families, only to have them taken away and slaughtered by a government determined to break the spirit and the traditions of the native tribes. Though the seas of grass where the Indians once hunted among the seemingly innumerable buffalo are long gone, the horse culture of the Native Americans has taken root once again, man and animal perfectly suited to one another, as it should be.


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