Using Multicultural literature in the Secondary Classroom with Kathy Neilson was a fantastic session. I love the invitation to use picture books as a spark for secondary classrooms.
I chose book The Prince and the Salmon People written by Claire Rudolf Murphy and illustrated by Duane Pasco. This Tsimshian narrative is familiar to me, but is a different version than the Tlingit version Aak’wtaatseen.
Based on the rubric for evaluating multicultural literature I felt the quality of the literature was well-developed plot, setting and characters, point of view and dialogue interwoven in interesting story. The illustrations were also of high quality.
While this book was not written by a Tsimshian person, it was obviously deeply researched and reflective of oral narratives and a deep understanding cultural behaviors. I especially enjoyed that photos of artwork, clothing and aat.oow and information that the illustrator based his illustrations off of.
The characters are not exaggerated in relation to their culture. Diversity of physical characteristics of characters within the cultural group portrayed. The author did not shy away from addressing status or cultural hierarchies and did not mythicize the shaman character, even providing the research and acknowledgement of shamans as holy people or scientists.
The setting was authentic, drifting between our world and the salmon people’s world and back. I enjoyed how the author also included a map and photographs of the story’s setting.
Th theme is universal and applied correctly to the culture portrayed. The Prince and the Salmon People provide opportunities to consider multiple perspectives, as many oral narratives do, providing views the treatment of animals and fish as beings deserving and requiring respect. The cultural values were clearly expressed and beautifully illustrated and blended with the anthropological research and artifacts representative of a rich and living culture.
As a science teacher I could see using this book for the introduction of a number of lessons regarding salmon life cycles, the 5 salmon species and the timing of their migrations, salmon food preservation and bentwood boxes.