Doris Shannon Garst,
The Picture Story & Biography of Red Cloud
(Follett, 1965)

The Picture Story & Biography of Red Cloud is part of The Library of American Heroes and was a new release when I was a child. I review it here to demonstrate the type of educational material that was available to the young minds of the mid-1960s.

In this book, the author demonstrates her thorough knowledge of Indian life by telling us that Red Cloud fitted his bow to his arrow (page 37). Obviously she never saw anyone shoot an arrow. When they die, they go to the Happy Hunting Ground (page 75.) And, my favorite part, when they have the wagon train surrounded, they make their war cries by slapping their hands against their mouths (page 113.)

This is the type of education we received about American Indians when I was growing up. This was supposed to be an "authority" on the Sioux and Red Cloud. Today people laugh about the idea that television used to always portray Indians banging their mouths with their hands. Well, here is the proof that it was a standard and accepted "fact."

This is supposed to be the biography of Red Cloud, a Sioux who became a warrior, a chief and one of the last to move onto a reservation. In actuality, it is white propaganda. It was not too gruesome for this author to include statements about scalping several times, but she could not say the whites "slaughtered" the buffalo. Instead, she says the whites "scared away the buffalo." That was a serious scare, if you ask me.

This book is a piece of rubbish! It is sad to think how many of my early classmates believed every word of this. I can picture them still, running around the playground slapping their mouths with their hands and talking about scalping the cowboys. It was effective propaganda!

review by
Alicia Karen Elkins

20 September 2008

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