Indian No More
By School Library Journal
Regina Petit and her family are Umpqua, living on the Grand Ronde Tribe’s reservation in Oregon, until the U.S. government enacts a law saying that her tribe no longer exists. Ten-year-old Regina can’t comprehend what is happening to her family and how they can have their Indian heritage taken away from them. Forced to move with her parents, grandmother, and younger sister, PeeWee, to Los Angeles, Regina finds her world turned upside down. Daddy believes that the 1957 Indian Relocation Program will provide their family with a home, schooling, a good job, and opportunities, while Chich (Grandma) is more doubtful, calling their relocation an eviction. Mama tries to keep her chin up for her family, but she just wants to go back home. Regina and PeeWee try to acclimate to their new neighborhood and school but find ignorance and racism toward Indians prevalent. New friends Keith and Addie are a bright spot for the Petit children, but as black children, Keith and Addie also face racism. Daddy tries to put on a brave face for his family, working hard to get ahead, only to discover that education and hard work aren’t necessarily enough. The family’s struggles are not sugarcoated; readers see the reality of Daddy’s despair and anger as Mama tries to hold the family together. In the midst of it all, Chich carries forward their tribal stories. In this book based on McManis’s own childhood experiences, the family is fictionalized to show how older children might react to being uprooted and plopped down in a foreign world—McManis was one year old when the government declassified her family’s tribe. McManis died before finishing the novel, entrusting Sorell to finish her story. A lengthy author’s note from McManis offers relevant history with which readers may be unfamiliar, along with family photos from this time. Also discussed in the note is the relevance of President Ronald Reagan changing the laws in 1983, enabling the restoration of tribes that had been terminated. VERDICT Readers will be moved as they become invested in Regina’s predicament. Is she still Indian, American, or both—and what does that mean for her and her family?