Be Brave, Be Brave, Be Brave: A True Story of Fatherhood and Native American Heritage

powerHouse/POW!. May 2019. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781576879146.
PreS-Gr 2–A father’s tribute to his newborn son attempts to draw on his lost Native American heritage in this debut picture book. Addressing his son directly, Falcon recounts the arduous journey that brought his child into the world, a difficult labor with medical complications that was further challenged by Hurricane Harvey. Throughout, he repeats to himself the mantra “Be brave,” and considers how to pass this courage along to his child. Inspiration comes in the form of relatives arriving with a ritual sage blessing that reminds the author of the Native traditions from which he draws strength: childhood memories of attending powwows and admiring his uncle’s collection of “spears, bows, and arrows.” Unfortunately, there is a lack of tribal specificity in both Falcon’s text and in Mason’s ethereal watercolor illustrations. Falcon attempts to address this in an author’s note, explaining that his family’s oral history mentions an Apache great-great-grandmother, and he briefly touches on the importance of Tribal Rolls in establishing Native American ancestry. The author’s explanation that a DNA test “confirmed” his Native identity may lead readers to conclude that genetics, rather than cultural heritage and tribal ties, determine Indigenous identity.
VERDICT While government policies of forced removal have no doubt contributed to the loss of important tribal ties, as may be the case for Falcon, this attempt at sharing a nebulous Indigenous identity employs too many tropes to be recommended

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