Mr. Goble's books are generally retellings of Native American myths, legends, folk tales, and historical accounts. Since childhood Mr. Goble has had a fascination with the Plains Indians, and loves to share their stories with today's youth. Some appeal more to a younger audience such as those in Kindergarten and lower elementary school, while others have definite appeal to children in upper elementary and middle school. Regardless of how publishers categorize his books, I loved reading that he strives to write them for "all ages."
Since Mr. Goble is a White man, I had hesitations at first regarding the authenticity of his work. Were his books going to be written from a White man's perspective, like so many of our country's historical accounts are? "In 1959, he traveled to the American west...During the trip, Goble was adopted into the Yakima and Sioux tribes (with the name Wakinyan Chikala, “Little Thunder”) by Chief Edgar Red Cloud." (Quote is from WisdomTalesPress.com.) After learning this, my fears were relieved. He writes and illustrates with intentionality, deliberately seeking out the oldest accounts he can find of a story as well as asking his Native American friends for their versions and perspectives.
Red Cloud's War is a work of historical fiction that chronicles the events that led up to and then became what's known as Fetterman's Fight, a battle between Lakota warriors and U.S. soldiers on December 21, 1866. The government had approached the Lakota about access to the Bozeman Trail which cut through Lakota land in order to reach the west of Montana to dig for gold. Chief Red Cloud did not accept the gifts that the government offered to his people in exchange for access and the building of forts along the trail when the "peaceful" talks were backed by hundreds of U.S. soldiers. "Colonel Carrington said he wanted peace, but what do white people mean by peace? How can there be peace when your neighbor demands a way through your land whether you say yes or no? It is not peace when he comes with an arrow fitted to his bow, nor is it peace when you know he will shoot if you do not do as he tells you" Recent history also told him that the White man was always greedy for more, and access to the trail would lead to further White expansion, taking their best hunting grounds. War was imminent.
What I love about Mr. Goble's work is that with the aide of his books, I am able to provide my children with a more comprehensive education than what I received. I love that I can share multiple perspectives with them, and that they are coming to understand that all voices matter, that a myriad of injustices have occurred over the past hundreds of years in our country that have formed our nation into what it is today, and that they have a choice as to how they would like to contribute to our nation's future. I am grateful for the work of Paul Goble in chronicling our nation's history from a Native American perspective that is accessible to children, and I hope his books will be shared with children across our country for years to come.
For more information on Paul Goble and to read a great interview with him: An interview with Paul Goble
For more information on the Lakota Sioux Indians: The Lakota People