Wisdom of the Heart: Book Review

Diana Coogle and Barbara Kostal

native american picture writing
The image represents a petition sent to the United States government by several Native American peoples.  The figures represent the petitioning tribes.  Approximate date: 1920. This image and further explanation may be found at: Wikimedia Commons, Wells American Indian Picture Writing. png

 

The authors of “Wisdom of the Heart,” Diana Coogle and Barbara Kostal, offer a vivid palette of verbal and visual art. Their response to stimuli is visceral, although it is evident that both women bring to their experience a honed sensitivity.

As Barbara Kostal (the painterly half of this collaboration) explains in the Introduction, her influences are many. These include, significantly, Native American traditions. I found the paintings with Native American symbolism to be the most memorable. That is my organic, not my intellectual response. I revisited several of these paintings as I perused the book. Among those that impressed me most were “Fiat Lux” and “Transcendence”.

Diana Coogle offers a verbal counterpoint to each of the images painted by Kostal. Coogle does not analyze the pictures intellectually. She allows them to find a place in her psyche and her heart. She is clear that her responses are the product of experience and intuition. While the reader may bring a different perspective to the art, Ms. Coogle’s observations enhance appreciation.

“Wisdom of the Heart” is highly personal. What makes the personal expressions in this book relevant to others is the intelligence and sensibility of the authors.

I recommend “Wisdom of the Heart”. Even the most determined pragmatists will find, after spending time with this book, that they have enjoyed peace and inspiration. That is time well spent.

 

A. G. Moore  July 8, 2017

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Exploration and Conquest Stories of Indigenous Peoples: With Student Study Guide


Featuring:

  1. Vocabulary Development
  2. Reading Comprehension
  3. Written Expression
  4. Core Curriculum Concepts
  5. An Integrated Workbook
  6. Pictures Highlighting Key History Figures And Events

A Book For High School Students: Exploration And Conquest Stories Of Indigenous Peoples

exploration-matebele-cover

This book takes the student around the globe and across the centuries with a pictorial odyssey.  Six continents are covered, as are island nations.   Twenty-two anecdotes are labeled “Did You Know?” Each of these has a vivid photo associated and a dramatic story.  For example:  Vietnamese villages are shown kowtowing to French invaders; indigenous Putumayo are shown chained as slave laborers on South American rubber plantations; and junks are shown burning off the coast of Canton during the Opium Wars.

A special feature is the “Useful Terms” section, which offers simple explanations for challenging words that appear in the text.  Also, in the “Student Study Guide” (incorporated into the book), there is an exercise in map reading.  There are, additionally,  vocabulary and reading comprehension questions, as well as a suggested essay in the Guide.

The book is suitable for high school or upper middle school.  Upon completion of the book, students will have learned how Europe’s Age of Exploration affected indigenous peoples around the world.

The photo below illustrates how the images in “Exploration and Conquest” capture dramatic moments in history.  Photos, such as the one featured here, will hold students’ attention and will help them understand critical concepts.

Ethiopian Resistance Fighters
ethiopian-resitance-site-arbegnuoc_1
This photo was taken between 1935 and 1940 by an unknown author.  The men were part of organized resistance to Mussolini as he sought to expand his African colonies.

War of 1812: Highlighting Native Nations

Tecumseh 2 site The story of_Isaac_Brock,_hero,_defender_and_saviour_of_upper_Canada,_1812_(1908)_(14763177825)
Tecumseh meets General Isaac Brock. The picture is from The Story of Isaac Brock By Walter R. Nursery

By Zig Misiak

The Star-Spangled Banner is the national anthem of the United States. It was written during the War of 1812, a war I learned about in grade school. I was taught then that the US was involved in a heroic (though ironic) Battle of New Orleans, that the US capital was burned, that Dolly Madison was brave and that the English impressed American sailors from American ships. Zig Misiak’s War of 1812: Highlighting Native Nations doesn’t mention any of these events. He describes a different war. Mr. Misiak is Canadian, and the Canadian experience was distinct from the one I learned about. Both the narrative I learned as a child and Mr. Misiak’s book are accurate, and yet so dissimilar. That’s the most interesting lesson I took from this book: a reminder that information is dependent on perspective.

War of 1812: Highlighting Native Nations is a beautiful book. It is filled with high-quality color photos that constitute a virtual tour through history, Canadian history, and the flip side of US history. Although this book was written for students, I found it engaging and enlightening. I read it in two stages. The first was a cursory review of the pictures and captions. It’s hard to resist these and so I just enjoyed myself. Then I went back to read in detail Mr. Misiak’s description of events.

This is when the lesson on perspective truly hit home. For example, Mr. Misiak speaks about the United States’ “perceived violations of American sovereignty”. Certainly England thought it had a right to institute a blockade and interfere with ships in international waters (that is, stop and board neutral vessels). It would not be the first or last nation to do this. But the fact that it was done and that a US ship was fired upon, is more than a perception. Mr. Misiak describes the United States’ ambition, and aggression, in seeking to absorb Canada. That is a fact, one that was glossed over in the history I was taught. And generally omitted in my history classes was the role of indigenous Americans and their alliance with Britain in the hope of securing an independent nation west of the Mississippi.

Indigenous Americans, Canadians, and the British fought side by side during the war. The British shared with their indigenous allies the desire to stop American expansion by creating an indigenous buffer state on the US frontier. Many Canadians died defending their homeland, as did many indigenous Americans, including the legendary Tecumseh.

The war ended with the US and Britain each declaring victory. The British agreed to respect US naval neutrality and the US abandoned its ambition to take over Canada. Besides the loss of life and devastation of property, the losers in the war were indigenous Americans. With the signing of the peace treaty, US expansion beyond the Mississippi was insured and the slow, unrelenting erosion of indigenous sovereignty proceeded.

Mr. Misiak has a gentle voice, which is consistent with his respect for people of the First Nations (a term used to describe the indigenous people of Canada). It is obvious that Mr. Misiak has cultivated a relationship with representatives of the First Nations and that he wishes to share their legacy and struggle for Constitutional rights. His book, War of 1812: Highlighting Native Nations, would be a worthy addition to any library, especially if young readers have access to that library.

 

A. G. Moore, September 2016