Yellowhorn, Eldon, and Kathy Lowinger. What the Eagle Sees: Indigenous Stories of
Rebellion and Renewal. Annick Press, 2019.
Counter Narrative Connections
This middle-grade, informational chapter book collects histories of indigenous resistance—times when indigenous communities in North America (in the book referred to as Turtle Island) and Canada were forced to defend themselves from invaders arriving in their homelands. In many ways, this book is formatted like a standard non-fiction informational book: it includes topical headings, informatively captioned images, boxed off glossary terms and side stories, etc. Unlike many books of this genre, though, What the Eagle Sees is written in the first person and intersperses traditional Native American stories amidst historical accounts of events. The effect is an engaging and moving, as well as informative, narration of indigenous peoples’ history.
This book tells history from a perspective frequently erased from history books and disrupts the master narrative of colonial America’s “founding” as one of exploration and conquest, offering a counter narrative of the events as invasion and resistance. What the Eagle Sees also helps children place the events of Pocahontas’ life within a larger historical context (Chapter 3 is the section which includes a discussion of Pocahontas and Chief Powhatan). This book also shows examples of other indigenous peoples, like Pocahontas, placed in situations in which they must determine how to both defend and care for their communities. Such historical context helps disrupt the master narrative of Pocahontas as the “good, both-sides” Native American, showing that she, like others before and after her, responded with humanity and human complexity to a tragic situation.
Discuss the event of the colonization of Jamestown. What impact did this event have on history? On Pocahontas’ life? On her family and the local Powhatan? On the Powhatan nation? Consider for increasingly larger expanses of time and group sizings. Repeat for the English colonizers’ perspective. Discuss how these histories compare to one another.
Understanding Individual Events within a Context of History
Resistance vs Conquest Perspectives of Colonialism