By Jackie Neypes
Winner of the bronze medal in the Moonbeam Children’s Book Award in the Mind, Body, Spirit, Self Esteem category
Just Indian addresses the stereotypes faced by Native American children in mixed communities. The book offers a rarely-seen glimpse of the hurt felt by these kids who love their culture and see that outsiders just don’t “get them.”
First-time author Jackie Neypes is of Native American ancestry herself. She is of Washoe descent and was inspired by the land her family lives on along with Lake Tahoe and Whale Beach.
Her magical story follows a small hero who is excluded at school and feels like he’s “good for nuth’n.” He has vivid daydreams about his mighty ancestors, the horses they rode, the glory they achieved, and the world they inhabited. The land they roamed is the very same land he now lives on with his family, though it’s now been fenced in and re-imagined as “the rez.”
With the help of one very special teacher and despite his fear, the boy finds a way to share his passion, vision, and heritage with his classmates through his artwork. In the end, he makes himself – and his ancestors – proud of being…Just Indian.