Indigenous North American Literature in Translation

tasunka2The website American Indians in Children’s Literature ( is a wonderful resource with advice on what to read, what to avoid, and why.

Most of the books they recommend — and there is an extensive “best books” section — are written in English. But a few are translations.

One book that gets a strong recommendation is Tasunka: A Lakota Horse Legend, which was composed by Alex White Plume, translated from the Lakota by Agnes Gay, and turned into a picture book by Donald F. Montileaux, who is also a member of the Oglala Lakota Nation.

According to Debbie Reese, writing at the American Indians in Children’s Literature website, “Montileaux’s style reflects the ledger art of the 1800s, developed by Plains Indians who drew on ledger pages using pencil, ink, and watercolor.”

Tasunka is a bilingual book, in English and Lakota, recommended for ages 6-9.

Layout 1From Canada, Groundwood Books also has Niwechihaw / I Help, which author and illustrator Caitlin Nicholson originally wrote in Cree. It was translated by Leona Morin-Nelson.

This book is also reviewed at the American Indians in Children’s Literature site, by Beverly Slapin, who writes, “There is no lecturing or moralizing here, just quietness, appreciation of what is, and a good time. In Cree and English, the spare text is complemented by vibrantly colored acrylic-on-canvas paintings.”

Niwechihaw / I Help is listed as a picture book for ages 2-5.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s