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Peace Walker: The Legend of Hiawatha and Tekanawita    by C. J. Taylor order for
Peace Walker
by C. J. Taylor
Order:  USA  Can
Tundra, 2004 (2004)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This is the story of the formation of the Confederacy of the Five Nations of the Iroquois, told and illustrated by C. J. Taylor, herself of Mohawk heritage. Her paintings are outstanding - rich, gorgeous, and evocative of the legends from which they are drawn. The account is aimed at middle elementary readers, but of interest to their elders as well.

Taylor tells us how the five Iroquois nations fled from the rule of the Adirondack, seeking peace and independence to the northeast. In an account similar to the tale of Moses leaving Egypt, the pursuing Adirondack are destroyed by a ferocious storm that leaves the Iroquois canoes untouched. At first, all goes well in the new location, but eventually feuds and constant warfare displace peace. All learn to fear brutal Sorceror Chief Atotarho of the Onondaga.

When the people seek Chief Hiawatha's leadership to end the evil, he replies 'One mind. One spirit. One people.' After this first attempt fails, there's a prophecy of help coming from a gentle Huron (who cannot be killed), who turns out to be Tekanawita. But instead of asking Hiawatha to go to meet him, his people coerce him using an evil shaman, with results that send the Chief 'robed in grief' (a good case study of the end justifies the means type of thinking).

Together, Hiawatha and Tekanawita plan the peaceful union of nations and compose a 'song of peace' that heals Atotarho. They tell the women of each nation to name leaders to 'work for the benefit of the people and those not yet born', so creating 'the Great Peace and the Confederacy of the Five Nations', one of the oldest democracies on the planet. There is much food for thought in Peace Walker.

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