Native American History Books

by Judith St. George

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Sacagawea Penguin Group

Discussion and Reading guide for Crazy Horse, To See with the Heart: The Life of Sitting Bull, Sacagawea


Several years ago I came upon the tragic history of the Sioux Indians while doing research for a book about Mount Rushmore. The Sioux were once the most powerful tribe in America. Today the Sioux Pine Ridge Reservation is among the nation's poorest communities.

How could this happen? Researching and reading about the Sioux led me to write biographies of Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull. A third biography naturally followed. Sacagawea, the young Shoshone woman who accompanied Lewis and Clark to the Pacific, had been my childhood heroine. Writing all three biographies from the Indians' point of view gave me the opportunity to describe their customs and practices in depth.

This Study Guide will help teachers broaden their students' understanding of Indian life, traditions, beliefs, and history. By raising pertinent questions, the Guide also will encourage discussion, as well as lead students on to further reading and discovery about our country's Native American heritage.


Judith St. George was born and raised in Westfield, New Jersey. Following her graduation from Smith College, she married and lived for a year in the historic Longfellow House in Cambridge, Massachusetts, George Washington's headquarters during the American Revolution. She attributes much of her interest in history, about which she writes with authority and enthusiasm, to this experience.

While writing more than twenty-five books, ranging from mysteries to histories, she has also taught workshops and ran story hours and reading programs for children. She represented the state of New Jersey as a delegate to the White House Conference on Library and Informational Services and to the Council of State Libraries in the Northeast. Due to her expert knowledge, she served as a member of the Brooklyn Bridge Centennial Commission, and as chairperson of its Educational Committee she was responsible for creating a kit about the Bridge for the schoolchildren of New York City.

"People seem impressed by the amount of research needed to write a nonfiction book," she says, "but it's the research that's fun!" Relying not only on libraries for her research, St. George also visits the settings of her books. While researching the Panama Canal, she recalls: "The day that I made a transit on a cargo ship from the Pacific to the Atlantic was one of the great experiences of my life as I mentally operated every valve, gate, and lock. But I certainly hadn't counted on having to board the cargo ship, which was under way, by climbing up a thirty-foot rope ladder in the pitch dark from a launch that was also moving!"

Her nonfiction books have earned a number of awards, including an American Book Award Honor Book in 1983, the New York Academy of Sciences Award, a Christopher Award in 1985, and the Golden Kite Award in 1990. She is the mother of four grown children and grandmother of five. She and her husband reside in Old Lyme, Connecticut, but love to travel and visit their family in Alaska, Colorado, New Mexico, and Chile. She also makes school and library visits across the country. "I really enjoy speaking to school groups and keeping in touch with what is going on in young people's lives," she says. "I especially enjoy the challenge of trying to entice the 'back-row kids' into exploring new worlds through books."

She is currently teaching creative writing in York Correctional Institution for Women in Connecticut.

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