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Indian History Rewritten for Montana

May 28, 2008

Pablo, MT – Montana educators have a new option when it comes to teaching the history of the state's Native American people. Education in Indian history and culture is required by state law, and a new set of four books will help schools comply. Author Julie Cajune with the Tribal History Project is a former teacher, and says she became involved because most books on Native American history are inaccurate, and sometimes insulting.

"Many offer a stereotypical representation of Indian people, most often in terms of the past, without showing that we have persisted into the contemporary 21st century."

Cajune says the books appeal to a wide audience, with a special focus on the lives of children. She shares a preview of one of the stories she says captures kids' attention.

"Both young boys and girls were taken by their parents to a vision quest site and left there for several days. The parents were hoping that the children would get their spiritual help."

Cajune based the books on audio recordings of tribal elders made in the 1930s, as well as field notes from anthropologists. The books are being presented for review today as part of the "Celebration of the Stories and History of the Salish, Pend d'Orielle and Kootenai People" event in Pablo.

Deborah Smith/Steve Powers, Public News Service - MT