Marshall, Joseph III. In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse
November 10th 2015 by Amulet Books
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.
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.