Yvonne Wakim Dennis

Native Americans Today

From Midwest Book Review:
Native Americans Today is a sensitive comprehensive and imaginative education activity book that helps teachers and students dispel stereotypes and explore diverse realities of modern Native Americans. This book works nicely with multi-cultural studies and Native American studies for middleschoolers. Lessons are divided into 8 chapters/​categories: Ground Rules, Where We Live, Growing Up, Growing Old, A Day In the Life, Communications, Arts (Walk In Beauty), Economics, and The Struggle Continues. Each lesson is carefully organized and clearly presented with grade level materials, time, objectives, activities, and enrichment/​extensions plus reading and resources. The lessons on Native American terminology and stereotyping are particularly good. Field trips to the community and crafts and research projects flesh out the classroom discussion exercises. Students learn to define respect as well as racism. One of my favorite sections is the chapter on Indians in Careers/​employment under Paying the Bills/​Economics. There are 32 biographical sketches of Native American individuals and their employment along with black and white photos. Careers range from teaching/​research, social work, casino poker dealer, computer instructor, and bank president to massage therapist, aeronautical engineer, repatriation director and osteopathic physician. The objective is that students will learn Native Americans are employed in many vocations and locations, become familiar with credentials required for certain careers, and use mapping skills. Another interesting lesson is Burial Ground Desecration and Repatriation. Students read "No Peace For Indian Burial Grounds" and discuss related issues. An energetic approach encompasses many ideas and stimulates the students. Also useful are the appendices on web sites, Native News Radio Stations, and other resources. As a teaching guide and multicultural studies resource, Native Americans Today is a rich resource, carefully and authentically created. But it is more than just effective. It is a clear labor of love.

From Booklist:
Focusing on contemporary Native Americans, Hirschfelder and Beamer have created a comprehensive guide for teaching about American Indians. From the first chapter, which addresses terminology (American Indians versus Native Americans), stereotypes, and some things to avoid (using masks and headdresses), the authors provide clear guidance about topics of study and activities. Topics range widely--from tribal names and economics to burial grounds, sacred sites, sports team names and mascots--with each chapter including objectives, activities, enrichment ideas, and short, easily understood readings on related subjects. Well-organized, straightforward, and filled with a rich variety of resources unfamiliar to most non-Indians, this is an essential resource for educators working with middle-graders.

From Cynthia Leitich Smith: Wakim has worked in Indian education and community services for more than 25 years. Hirschfelder has written numerous non-fiction books on Native people and has worked for the Association on American Indian Affairs for more than 20 years. A growing number of forward-thinking teachers and librarians are integrating contemporary depictions of Native peoples into their school and public library curriculums. This book offers them a resource for activities. I hope Teacher Ideas Press will consider publishing more volumes with activities for grades K-3 and grades 8-up.

Selected Works

Non-fiction
Children's Non-Fiction
Winner of the 2014 Arab American Museum Children's Book of the Year, this book chronicles the diverse histories and contemporary lives of Arab Americans.
Children's Nonfiction
Winner of the 2010 Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards Gold Medalist in Activity Books and the 2010 Independent Publishers Silver Award for Interactive Books. Hands-on activities, games, and crafts introduce children to the diversity of Native American cultures and teach them about the people, experiences, and events that have helped shape America, past and present.
Kennedy Center Multicultural Book Honoree, 2005; The Cooperative Children’s Book Center Choices, 2004; International Reading Association Notable Book for a Global Society, 2003. This award-winning book highlights 26 contemporary Native groups.
Winner of the 2008 Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards Gold Medal in Multicultural Non-Fiction and the Bank Street College "The Best Children’s Books of 2008." This children's non-fiction multicultural book highlights diversity in the United States.
Adult Nonfiction
A realistic and diverse guide to teaching about today’s Native Americans.
A manual for anyone interested in telling the truth about American Indians.