December 20, 2011
My Name Is Not Easy by Debby Dahl Edwardson
“Take care of your brothers.”
Our main character takes this charge seriously but there is only so much that he can do when the priest decides to take his brother away. Luke, Bunna and Isaac have been sent from their village to Sacred Heart School. They know that Inupiaq rules don’t apply here, but what are the rules in their new home?
When they are told Isaac is too young to go to school there, they are concerned but powerless to stop as the priest in charge puts the crying child in the car and drives him away. Where is he? All they can find out is that he’s been left with a good Catholic family.
And so starts Luke’s education outside his home village. He learns about the Indians (Athapascan’s) he has been taught are his people’s natural enemies, the Catholic church and even the few white students at Sacred Heart. He learns to survive, to trust, and how to stand up for himself in a world that devalues his way of life.
Edwardson tells the story of native students who were taken from their homes in the fifties and sixties. They had to hunt to feed themselves, were beaten for speaking their own languages and were even experimented on by the U.S. military. Like Isaac, many children were taken from their families. I went to high school with one of these children although I didn’t realize what her adoption meant at the time.
It will probably be easier to get a boy into this book than a girl but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. This is a story about the universal kinship of mankind, human rights and folly.
I’m taking my copy back to the library tonight and this is going on my wish list.