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Book Festival: teaching Fools Crow

Shanon Rammell, a junior in Dorothea Susag’s honors English class particpated in a panel on Fools Crow that also included English professor William Thackeray from Northern, retired English teacher Dale Waniata, the 2001 Christa McAuliffe Fellow, as well as Dorothea Suag, who teaches at Simms High School. Susag moderated the discussion. She is an authority on Native American literature. Her book Roots and Branches: A resource of Native American literature was published by the National Council of Teachers of English.

Dottie began by pointing out that it was a poor use of a classroom to read books there that kids can read on their own. The classroom should be used to teach books that students might need historical and literary support to appreciate. She also suggested that it was important not to segregate Native American literature. It should be taught alongside other literature, rather than in special sections.

Fools Crow reaches its conclusion, and a kind of transcendence, at the massacre of a Blackfeet village of women and children along the Marias River on an icy cold January day in 1870.

Professor Thackery provided an overview of books that give histories of the so-called Baker Massacre from various points of view.

Death, Too, for the Heavy-Runner by Ben Bennett (Mountain Press Pub. Co., 1982) gives an Indian point of view. 

Tell Baker to Strike Them Hard! by Robert Ege is based on army documents. This book is out of print but is available through interlibrary loan.

Piegan by Richard Lancaster also gives a Blackfeet account, and Thackery says it includes details he’s never found anywhere else.  The book chronicles the life, times, and legacy of the Blackfeet as seen through the story of its chief.

Blackfeet and Buffalo by James Willard Schultz is based on oral interviews with Blackfeet by a man who spent much time with them early in the twentieth century.

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown also includes an account of the incident.

Dale Waniata retired from 30 years of teaching that focused on teaching books that give “authentic stories of the Montana experience.” He now writes poetry and short stories.

Shanon Rammell told about the experience of reading Fools Crow in a noon book club at Simms High School, led by Dottie Susag. Students meet for twenty minutes and share and discuss thoughts from their reading logs.

James Welch’s widow, Lois Welch, attended the session, and particularly thanked Shanon for her presentation. 

Posted by Michael L Umphrey on 10/03 at 10:46 PM






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