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Heetunka's Harvest: A Tale of the Plains Indians

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | Heetunka's Harvest: A Tale of the Plains Indians.pdf | Language: English

A retelling of a Sioux legend recounts how a woman learns a lesson about selfishness when she take beans from Heetunka the mouse without leaving a gift in return, and so brings the wrath of the gods down on herself.

Ages 5 to 12

Jones discards Native American storytelling conventions in her version of a Plains Indian tale; the result is an abruptly moderated cautionary tale. A Dakota woman, proud of her thorough preparations for winter, turns greedy as she contemplates Heetunka the Bean Mouse's store of rich white beans. Instead of taking what she needs and leaving behind the customary exchange, she scoops up every last bean. The woman behaves ever more selfishly and destructively, until she finally loses her well-appointed tipi in a prairie fire that, pointedly, leaves her neighbors' homes untouched. Stripped of Native American formalities, the story seems bare, inviting readers to doubt the protagonist's sudden descent into moral bankruptcy. Keegan's illustrations, framed in a motif incorporating quill work, fetish shells and feathers, add authenticity, while an author's note and glossary provide valuable documentation. Ages 6-12. Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. Ages 5-8. Heetunka the bean mouse spends the late summer gathering beans so her family will have enough food to last the winter. In the fall, Indian women come and take some of her beans, leaving a like amount of corn or suet in exchange. A Dakota woman who wants beans for her family does not acknowledge Heetunka's hard work or rights and takes all that she finds, leaving nothing in exchange and ignoring Heetunka's wails. That night, a prairie fire burns the woman's tepee and all her possessions, although no other home in the settlement is harmed, forcing her family to rely on relatives for help to keep from starving. The illustrations are large and effectively framed by examples of Indian beadwork and woodwork, making them perfect to show during group reading, but the messages of fair play and respect are so overt that they overwhelm the story. Sheilamae O'Hara

5.5 (76157)
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Printable? Yes

Book details

  • PDF | 32 pages
  • Roberts Rinehart (October 1, 1998)
  • English
  • 4
  • Children's Books

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Review Text

  • By Guest on June 10, 2016

    Too long for my students.

  • By K. Huntermoon on July 7, 2009

    I don't mind that the woman knows she's "a good wife" because she has gathered lots of food for her family, but it upsets me that her husband is mean to her after she makes a mistake in not respecting the bean mouse. I quote from the book:"You foolish woman," cried her husband, "Hunka has punished us all for your greediness. You stole from the Bean Mouse, and now look at what's happened! You don't deserve your husband, who provides you with so much. You don't even deserve your poor, helpless children."In my family, we try to see our mistakes as opportunities to learn, and I cannot read this page aloud to my children. We would never attack each other's worth, even for a large mistake that effects all of us. It's too bad, but because of this page I returned the library book and chose not to buy an otherwise excellent story of the importance of respecting all life. If we cannot expect husbands to speak with respect to their wives, then how can we expect people to treat mice with respect?

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