In this fifth book of the Birchbark House series, Omakayas, her twin sons, Makoons and Chickadee, and their extended family adjust to life on the Great Plains following their 1866 migration from the Minnesota woods to Dakota Territory.
“Connected to each other by invisible strings of life,” Makoons and Chickadee quickly discover life on the Plains belongs “to the buffalo” and “hunters of the buffalo.” Eager to join the male hunters, the twins learn to hunt with bow and arrow while riding ponies. Disappointed to be excluded from the first hunt, they find consolation driving an ox cart to transport hides and witness the hunt. After adopting an orphan buffalo calf, the boys use their knowledge of buffalo language to play a pivotal part in another buffalo hunt. But this moment does not last. Aware the buffalo are fleeing westward to escape invading white settlers, the family relocates further west to a wooded place where they build a cabin and suffer loss, leaving readers wondering what the future holds. Laced with Ojibwe words (explicated in backmatter), Erdrich’s simple text and delicate pencil illustrations provide a detailed, honest portrait of Plains life through the antics and experiences of two Ojibwe boys.
A warm and welcome addition to the unfolding saga of a 19th-century Ojibwe family. (map, author’s note) (Historical fiction. 8-12)