Kit's Indian Summer Book Cover

Kit’s Indian Summer
Written by: Sharon Brown
Publish America
68 pages
Grades 3-8

Rating: Harmful - Stereotypical





Eleven-year-old Kit is sent to live with her aunt and uncle in San Francisco after her mother dies in childbirth and her father is off gold mining in the Sacramento Valley.  Her aunt and uncle are tolerant of her “uncivilized” ways but her twin cousins Clarissa and Marisa make her year long stay unbearable.  So when her father leaves for the gold mines of Northern California, a day after his return, Kit takes drastic measures to ensure she doesn’t get left behind again.  She cuts her hair and dons pants and work shirt to disguise herself as a boy, then stows away on the ship to Union, California, known now as Arcata.  Not having enough money to buy her a ticket back to San Francisco, her father says she can travel with him dressed as a boy to the gold mines along the Klamath River.  Traveling with the mule train Kit sees first hand the brutality of some of the miners, and the mistreatment of their animals.  Once they reached Clear Creek, Kit makes friends with a young Indian girl, who introduces herself as Yeenipaxzuh and spends most of the summer swimming and hanging out in the village.  During late summer Kit is invited to participate in a native religious ceremony known as a Pikyavish.  She makes a ceremonial dress in a week and is very excited about dancing in the week long ceremony.  Only the people of the village know that Kit is a girl.  After the conclusion of the first night of ceremonies the miners burn the village and kill Yeenipaxzuh’s father as well as others.  Yeenipaxzuh, helps Kit and her wounded father navigate the Klamath River and watches as they set sail back to San Francisco from the shores of Klamath.

Thanking two local Native women for their help with this book makes one think that this is an authentic portrayal of Karuk and or Yurok tribal life.  IT IS NOT.   The book trivializes Native culture and ceremony, by having Kit(a non-native) make a ceremonial dress in less than a week and get asked to participate in a ceremony that only men dance.  Yeenipaxzuh (the Karuk girl) looses her entire family when the village is attacked by miners, yet does not cry at the loss; in fact doesn't feel anything other than worry for Kit and kit's father; whom she takes over Ishi Pishi falls in a canoe and manuevers to the mouth of the Klamath.

Full Book Review of Kit's Indian Summer

More Resources

Karuk tribe

Karuk Language Web site

Natasha goes to the Brush Dance