Most of us know the legend of the Native American Hiawatha from the classic Nathaniel Hawthorne poem. However, the real story of Hiawatha is quite different. Robbie Robertson, legendary songwriter and member of the rock group The Band, is also a Native American who grew up learning the real story of Hiawatha. As an adult Robertson saw the need to tell the real story of Hiawatha and teamed up with illustrator David Shannon to write Hiawatha and the Peacemaker. Illustrator Shannon has created numerous colorful oil paintings throughout the story, while included in the back cover is a CD with the song Robertson composed to accompany the book.
Told in first person, Hiawatha is introduced as a young Mohawk warrior who has lost all his family and home in a battle and wants bloody revenge against the evil Chief Tadodaho who provoked the fighting among the five Iroquis tribes. One day a Peacemaker arrives in a white stone canoe with an unusual request. The Peacemaker wants to unite the five tribes in peace, but needs a someone with a strong voice to be his spokesperson, as his voice is quiet and stuttering. Although Hiawatha is still filled with anger he agrees, and the two set about to meet with each tribal chief, gaining the trust of the Cayuga, Seneca, and Mohawk. The Oneida tribe demands a miraculous sign, and the Peacemaker is able to give one. However, the chief of the last tribe Tadodaho of the Onondaga is filled with an evil spirit. The Peacemaker asks Hiawatha to administer medicine to the very chief who killed Hiawatha’s family. Can Hiawatha overcome his anger to do so and hopefully cure the evil chief?
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