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Bear Dancer: The Story of a Ute Girl by…
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Bear Dancer: The Story of a Ute Girl

by Thelma Hatch Wyss

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Bear Dancer: the story of a Ute girl by Thelma Hatch Wyss (2005)

Written by award-winning author, Thelma Hatch Wyss, Bear Dancer is the story of Elk Girl. Elk Girl was a member of the Ute Tribe who lived in the High Rockies of Colorado in the later part of the 1800s. Elk girl was kidnapped by the Cheyennes and kept as a slave. The was then traded to the Arapahos, and kept by them as a slave as well. She was rescued by a white soldier and taken to live with a military family at Fort Collins. In her two years away from her family and her tribe, Elk Girl learns that not all white men are the enemy. She finds compassion among them as she makes her way back home, but also returns to the devastation of her people after as have become dependent on the white man for food and protection while she was away.

Part personal journey, part adventure, and part history lesson, Bear Dancer is a great book for ages 8 – 12 interested in American history and Native Americans. Because Elk Girl was a true historical figure, and the story covers a wide range of topics related to the region, I would recommend it as a whole class read with supplements from primary sources on geography of the High Rockies, westward expansion, and the impact of the white man on Native American tribes.

I particularly liked this story because it is set in my back yard. I believe in 4th grade, all Colorado students do a project on Colorado history and this book would be a great addition to their research. At the end, the author added a short non-fiction chapter with interesting, factual accounts of Elk Girl and the period. ( )
  bclanphere | Apr 8, 2011 |
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In late ninetenth-century Colorado, Elk Dress Girl, sister of Ute chief Ouray, is captured by Cheyenne and Arapaho warriors, rescued by the white "enemy," and finally returned to her home. Includes historical notes.

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