North American Indian Ceremonies Critical Essays

Karen Liptak


(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

By organizing the book in this way and by including certain information, it is clear that Liptak wants to dispel the stereotype of American Indians as belonging to a monolithic cultural group. Although she occasionally speaks generally about all American Indians, for the most part Liptak distinguishes not only among various tribes but also among the various regions in North America that these tribes inhabit. Thus, she makes reference to the kachinas and prayer sticks of the tribes from the Southwest as well as the buffalo robes and sun dances of the Great Plains tribes and the wood carvings and potlash ceremonies of the tribes from the Pacific Northwest. Her inclusion of regional differences—she also mentions the Southeast, Northeast, Great Lakes, Eastern Woodlands, and Plateau regions—stresses that American Indians were and still are living and practicing ceremonies in many areas of America. (Despite the book’s title, North American Indian Ceremonies, Liptak makes no reference to Central American, Mexican, or Canadian Indians or their ceremonies.) Besides her focus on these regional identities, the author also mentions a dozen and a half individual tribes, making reference not only to larger, well-known tribes such as the Navaho and Cherokee but also to smaller tribes such as the Tlingit, Kwakiutl, Quinault, Tsimshian, Nootka, and Tohono O’odham that are, most likely, less familiar to young readers.

The differences among these tribes’ ceremonies resonate...

(The entire section is 610 words.)