Rattlesnake Mesa

By EdNah New Rider Weber
Illustrations by Richela Renkun

Discussion Questions for Rattlesnake Mesa

Teaching Tip
This is an excellent book to use during the observance of Native American Heritage Month in November

  1. When her grandmother dies, EdNah has to adapt to big changes and new experiences in her life. Why are these difficult for her? What changes and experiences have you had to adapt to?
    [“Crown Point,” pp. 3–5; “The Little Girl,” pp. 35–38]
  2. Naneh, Little Fat, and EdNah spend many hours on Rattlesnake Mesa. How do their activities on the mesa reflect their Native American heritage? What kinds of things might you and some friends have done there?
    [“Rattlesnake Mesa,” pp. 7–11; “Lizard Children,” pp. 13–14; “Holy Smokes,” pp. 20–23]

  3. Why do you think Naneh, Little Fat, and EdNah take Grey Eyes’ team? How do you think he felt? What was he thinking? Why didn’t he say anything?
    [“Rattlesnake Mesa,” pp. 7–11]

  4. EdNah writes about various people who were part of her childhood community at Crown Point. Choose one and tell how that person influenced her.
    [“Crown Point,” pp. 3–5; “Feast,” pp. 39–41; “Smiley,” pp. 25– 26; “Skat Man,” pp. 27–29; “One Bead at a Time” pp. 31–33]

  5. EdNah describes some Navajo celebrations. What were they like? What did the people do? How does EdNah feel about them?
    [“Feast,” pp. 39–41; “Skip Dance” pp. 43–45]

  6. How were the children disciplined at the Indian Schools? What does this tell you about the treatment of Native Americans in the early 1900s?
    [“Testimonial,” pp. 47–49; “Apache Girls” pp. 111–113]

  7. Why do you think EdNah’s father insisted she go to the Phoenix Indian School?
    [“Valley of the Sun.” pp. 53–59; “Journey Home” pp. 123–126]

  8. What does the title of the story “Killing the Indian” mean?
    [“Killing the Indian” pp. 61–65]

  9. Many of the stories tell about life at the Phoenix Indian School. How does this life differ from yours? List at least six ways.
    [“Killing the Indian” pp. 61–65; “Bugle Calls,” pp. 67–68; “Inspections” pp. 69–73]

  10. Why do you think the students worked at so many jobs at the Phoenix School? How were the children taught?
    [“The Work Details” pp. 75–83]

  11. What tone does the author use in “Holy Ghost”? Why? How does it reflect her feelings about these memories?
    [“Holy Ghost” pp. 85–90]

  12. What kinds of outings did the students have? What were they supposed to learn? How did they behave?
    [“Black Eyes, Bangs, and Braids,” pp. 91–94; “Wrigley Mansion,” pp. 107–110; “Lola, Lola, Coca Cola” pp. 115–119]

  13. Why do you think there was a separate Indian Day at the Arizona State Fair?
    [“Arizona State Fair” pp. 95–99]

  14. What are some of the ways that the students showed defiance toward the rules and rule keepers at the Phoenix Indian School? Why do you think they acted that way?
    [“Killing the Indian” pp. 61–65; “Holy Ghost” pp. 85–90; “Old Thunder” pp. 101–102]

  15. Why did EdNah and her friends enjoy visiting the Wrigley mansion? Why do you think the Wrigleys liked having the children there?
    [“Wrigley Mansion,” pp. 107–110]

  16. How did her time away at school deepen EdNah’s appreciation of her people and their ways?
    [“Journey Home” pp. 123–126; “Beauty Way” pp. 127–130]

  17. What were some important things that EdNah learned from her stay at the Phoenix Indian School?

  18. Which stories of the book did you find amusing? Which ones were sad? What parts of the book were poetic?


About This Title

Guided Reading:




Interest Level:

Grades 4 - 12

Reading Level:

Grades 4 - 5


Nonfiction, Middle Grade, YA interest, Identity/Self Esteem/Confidence, Overcoming Obstacles, Native American Interest, Friendship, Environment/Nature, Discrimination, Coping with Death, Childhood Experiences and Memories, Biography/Memoir, Empathy/Compassion, Persistence/Grit, Courage, Dreams & Aspirations, Families, Grandparents, History, Home, Poverty, Self Control/Self Regulation, United States History


Poetry Middle School, Biographical Poetry High School, Biography and Memoir Middle School, Biography and Memoir High School, Nonfiction Collection Middle School, Nonfiction High School Collection, Diverse Background English Collection Middle School, Diverse Background English Collection High School, Native American English Collection High School, Fluent Dual Language , Fluent English, Biography and Memoir Grades 3-6, Native American English Collection, Native American English Collection Grades 3-6, Poetry Grades 3-6, Nonfiction Grades 3-6, Native American Heritage Collection, Appendix B Diverse Collection Grades 3-6, Women's Text Set Collection Grades PreK-8, Women's Text Set Collection Grades 6-8, Native American Collection English 6PK, English Guided Reading Level Y, Trauma-Informed Collection, Native American and Indigenous Booklist , High-Low Books for Teens: Middle and High School

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