Four Great Rivers To Cross

Four Great Rivers To Cross; Cheyenne History, Culture and Traditions by Patrick M. Mendoza, Ann Strange Owl-Raben and Nico Strange Owl. Englewood, CO: Teacher Ideas Press/Libraries Unlimited, 1998. ISBN 1-56308-471-6 PB $20.00 131 pp.

Storytellers and teachers alike will be able to take much from this book. A mix of traditional tales and historical stori-es, it paints a picture of the Cheyenne culture and tells the stories of its history.

The book itself is a frame story in which Old Nam Shim (grandfather), teaches an orphaned girl the ancient ways and beliefs of the Cheyenne people. The first few chapters are the cultural stories beginning with the creation story and moving on through how other things came to be and then through stories of magic and medicine men. The source for these stories are tales told by Ann Strange Owl-Raben's mother, and her grandmother who lived to 109 years of age. The next few chapters deal with historical events told from the Cheyenne perspective. Details about ceremonies and traditions fill in the cultural context for the reader. Each chapter has discussion questions and extension activities. A vocabulary, pronunciation guide, list of additional Cheyenne words and sayings, and bibliographies round out the book. I read the book as the authors recommended - chronologically.

Following the traditional tales is tales is the story of a woman named Mochi who was born in 1841. Her story actually begins with a description of her mother's pregnancy, and the beliefs and customs associated with pregnancy and birth. It follows Mochi through her childhood and marriage until it brings her to the turning point in her life: the massacre at Sand Creek. This, and the subsequent chapters are hard to read, but it is important to see these events through Cheyenne eyes. Written for grades 3-8, and illustrated with photos, drawings and maps.

The Second Story Review, Vol 3, No. 3, Sep 1998
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