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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


July 14, 2001 - Issue 40


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Watonka: A Book Review


Editor's Note: Summertime is reading time. I recently had the pleasure of reading three books by Dr. Bruce Stapleton. In the next few issues, I will share a review with you. The first, is Watonka.

Watonka - coverIn a dream, the Great Spirit reveals to the descendant of a Sioux warrior how children will help bring peace to the tormented spirits of Arapaho ghost dancers. Two mysterious young visitors join forces with two boys in a small Oklahoma town, and are led to Little Fox, the great-niece of a revered Cheyenne medicine man.

The children uncover a long-forgotten journal of the medicine man, which describes a Cherokee formulae used many years before to cure Arapaho chief Watonka of cancer. The warrior's descendant suffers from the same disease, as does Gentle Bear, a Cheyenne friend of Little Fox. Spirits of the ghost dancers, led by Watonka, appear to the children and in doing so reveal the healing plants used in the formulae. With the help of Little Fox, the children gather the plants and prepare the medicines, which relieve Gentle Bear's suffering.

Unfortunately, Gentle Bear's drunken and violent husband, Horace Calicott, tries to steal the now-valuable journal from the children. This sets up a tense and dramatic climax to the story, with the ghost dancers' symbolic redemption and the descendant's life hanging in the balance.

The surprise ending reveals the true purpose of the mysterious visitors, and the Great Spirit's possible motives for interceding on behalf of the ghost dancers.

Given the historical content and cultural insights, this book is especially appropriate for students and young adult readers. It has been recommended for usage in libraries and schools. This book can be ordered through, and, with discounts available for educators. On the site, you can browse the full contents of the book.

ISBN: 0595129269

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  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.


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