WASHINGTON - If I were a Native American today, what would my life be like? How would I be different from other kids? Would I go to a regular school? These are some of the questions answered by the children's book "Meet Naiche: A Native Boy from the Chesapeake Bay Area" by Piscataway author Gabrielle Tayac.
This 48-page book marks the debut of a new series "My World: Young Native Americans Today" by the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution, in association with Beyond Words Publishing, Inc. The series is targeted toward pre-teen readers in hopes of promoting greater cultural tolerance through understanding.
The series will profile young American Indians who will share their experiences growing up Native in today's world. All writing and photography will be provided by Native individuals.
The subject of "Meet Naiche: A Native Boy from the Chesapeake Bay Area" is a youth named Naiche Woosah Tayac who lives in rural Maryland, not too far from the capitol of the United States where the Smithsonian Institution is building the National Museum of the American Indian.
Naiche's mother is San Carlos Apache, his father is Piscataway and he is Gabrielle Tayac's nephew. Tayac draws from her familiarity with Naiche and his family to create a simple yet eloquent look at a normal springtime weekend in his life.
The family name "Tayac" means "head chief" in the Pascataway language. Naiche, an heir of important chiefs, has been raised knowing the importance of keeping his tribe's ceremonies and rituals from being lost in the commotion of modern society. Naiche explains with great pride his family's role in the Awakening of Mother Earth ceremony and he eagerly describes what happens, the significance of where it is held and why his people think it is important.
Naiche is a good example of cultural assimilation. He lives in a beautiful modern home, enjoys riding his bike and attends public school. The little details of his life help non-Native children understand that Naiche's life is not some exotic museum demonstration. He is a regular kid - just like them. He gets in trouble when he doesn't clean his room and he prefers playing soccer in gym class to learning about photosynthesis in science.
This high quality book includes historical drawings and photos along with many full-color photographs by the renowned Siletz photographer John Harrington. The Washington-based Harrington is the youngest photographer ever to be assigned to cover the White House and is the chief photographer for the international magazine "The World & I."
Author Gabrielle Tayac is also a good example of a modern Native woman. She earned a doctorate in Sociology from Harvard University. She co-founded of the League of Indigenous Sovereign Nations and works to promote education about the rights of indigenous people around the world. Since 1999, Dr. Tayac has been developing exhibitions and programs for the National Museum of the American Indian which is scheduled to open in 2004.
For more information, write to Beyond Words Publishing, Inc., 20827 N.W. Cornell Rd., Suite 500, Hillsboro, Oregon 97124, phone (503) 531-8700 or visit www.beyondword.com.