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BEAR DANCER by Thelma Hatch Wyss


The Story of a Ute Girl

by Thelma Hatch Wyss

Age Range: 8 - 12

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2005
ISBN: 1-4169-0285-6
Publisher: McElderry

The year Elk Tooth Dress was neither child nor adult she climbed the juniper fence to watch her brother Ouray dance the Bear Dance that signaled the arrival of spring. Next year, she knew, she would tug on Spotted Tail’s sleeve and dance with him—and be his wife. But next year Spotted Tail is dead, and Elk Tooth Dress goes to live with another band to “talk treaty,” as Ouray has commanded. Ouray lived with white people and understands the futility of fighting them. Cheyenne warriors capture Elk Tooth Dress; her next years are misery, until she is unexpectedly rescued by white soldiers and restored to her brother’s band. Wyss’s writing compares to Michael Dorris’s in her nuanced, non-stereotyped portrayal of Native American life. Her story, based on a historical figure (who later saved the lives of several white women captured by the Utes), is a valuable addition to Native American literature. (Fiction. 8-12)