One Real American: The Life of Ely S. Parker, Seneca Sachem and Civil War General

Abrams. Oct. 2020. 248p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781419746574.
Gr 6 Up–Bruchac’s outstanding biography chronicles General Ely S. Parker’s remarkable life as a Sachem for the Seneca nation, a civil engineer, a lawyer, a general, Commissioner of Indian Affairs, and an investor. Prior to the narrative, Bruchac, who is of Abenaki ancestry, discusses how Native American stereotypes taught in school differed from his personal life experiences. Readers then learn about the surrender of General Lee to General Grant at Appomattox in 1865. Parker, the highest ranking Native American in the Union Army, wrote the official terms of surrender for the Civil War. The text subsequently follows a chronological sequence. Each chapter begins with a quote from Parker, allowing readers to contextualize primary source material. Bruchac excels in detailing Parker’s life and the history of the Seneca people and other Native Americans. The text also dispels myths about Native Americans within the context of U.S. history. Parker’s character and abilities are juxtaposed against the racism and injustice he faced, whether it be by loss of land or discrimination in professional settings. Well-chosen and effectively captioned black-and-white photographs and illustrations further aid readers in understanding Parker’s life, and they are credited in the back matter. The bibliography and notes sections, with both primary and secondary sources, reflect Bruchac’s research efforts.
VERDICT A well-executed biography that all libraries serving middle and high school students need to have.

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