Was naya nuki a real person
Naya Nuki: Shoshone Girl Who Ran by Kenneth ThomasmaNaya Nuki: Shoshoni Girl Who Ran is the best childrens book ever, especially for little girls.
But before delving into the review and exploring just why Kenneth Thomasmas Naya Nuki is on of the best books you can give young readers, lets talk some logistics:
If youre buying a copy of Naya Nuki—hey, I sent a signed copy to my kindergarten teacher last year for Christmas—please do it right, especially if this book brought you joy as a kid:
Buy it from the author himself so Amazon and Scholastic dont ding him with some bullshit fee.
The store page on his site is down right now, so Ive linked you to his contact page.
Send a message, Thomasma will get back to you right away, and your brand-new, super cheap, (signed, if you request it) copy of the best childrens book ever will be on your doorstep just as fast as it would with Amazon.
Now, on with the review.
Naya Nuki: Shoshoni Girl Who Ran is the best childrens book ever—especially for girls, although boys love it, too. While its officially recommended for children ages 9 and up, judging from the reviews on goodreads, most of us were introduced to Naya Nuki by our kindergarten teachers.
It was the same for me. On the first day of kindergarten, when my teacher began reading Naya Nuki after recess, the entire class went from exhausted to enrapt. I couldnt possibly wait for the next day of school to find out what happened next, so I begged my parents to get me my own copy of the book, and I read the entire thing before the week was up.
I reread Naya Nuki every year after that—and whenever the book ended up lost in those pre-Internet days, trying to get a new copy was a massive project: none of the bookstores had the title or the authors name on file. It always ended with a frantic call to my former kindergarten teacher, begging her to remind me who wrote Naya Nuki: Shoshoni Girl Who Ran, then getting the bookstore to order it, and waiting for what seemed like forever for it to show up.
I still reread this book ever year—crazy, considering Im now a few years shy of 40—and I read it with my son and nieces, too.
But pure love for a book, the phenomenon it became in your life, and the sentimental memories of your childhood that it sparks arent the makings of a great novel—those things just mean you liked it a hell of a lot.
So why my claim that Naya Nuki: Shoshoni Girl Who Ran is the best childrens book ever, especially for little girls?
Hell, Ive read it enough times. Let me go break it down for you.
Naya Nuki: Shoshoni Girl Who Ran, loosely based on the true story of the 1801 capture of several Shoshoni (including Naya Nuki and her friend Sacagawea) by a hostile tribe, covers Naya Nukis daring escape and her dangerous solo-trip, on foot, back to her tribe.
Youd think kids would be bored by a book about a little girl walking thousands of miles by herself—and you’d be totally wrong.
Remember, we’re not dealing with contemporaries of the same genre here: this isn’t the overwritten snore-fest of Island of the Blue Dolphins, or the goddamn never-ending tragedy of Julie of the Wolves.
With very little dialogue and zero room for fluff, Naya Nuki is a plot-driven novel that describes everything from nature, danger, life, and death in an equal, matter-of-fact simplicity—and kids love it.
For children—especially 5 and 6 year-old readers going through the Cowboys and Indians phase (yeah, probably not P.C. to say - I dont care, dont email me about it), theres nothing not to love about a fast-paced, action-packed adventure story about a Native American girl kidnapped by an enemy tribe, escaping, and dodging all kinds of danger to make it back home. This is a book that holds kids attention, teaches them Native American history, and makes for some bitchin playtime at recess.
But as fun as this book may be for young readers, it takes an adult reader to pick up on just how much is going on beneath the surface story. The layers of subtext running rampant throughout the novel are what make this the best childrens book ever—again, especially for little girls.
The novels underlying themes and messaging—independence, endurance, mental and physical strength, pragmatism, determination, courage, et. al.—which center around an 11 year-old female protagonist are what make Naya Nuki the best book for little girls.
The themes in Naya Nuki are no different than those at the very crux of almost every novel written for boys, from Hatchet to The Hardy Boys and everything in between. But in the book targeting boys, those themes reflect heroic ideals of masculinity—they represent societal expectations for men, which are constantly reinforced in books, television, movies, and society.
But what about Naya Nuki, where those traditionally masculine themes and messages are woven into the story of a little girl?
Hell, the kids don’t care. Naya Nuki is the great equalizer like that: all kids love it.
But unlike boys novels, the same themes in Naya Nuki are outliers—theyre an exception to femininity, and not a reflection of societys expectations.
Even so, for little girls—though they may not realize it at the time—the novel’s underlying message is unique, hard to come by in other books, and has a long-lasting, positive impact. Its just enough to provide a solid foundation arming them against a lifetime of Barbie, Bratz dolls, beauty magazines, the Kardashians, and every other twisted message about what it means to be female.
Lets break down some of these themes.
I mean...Jesus. An 11 year-old girl crossing nearly half of North Dakota and almost half of Montana on her own, on foot, in just over a month? (Someone bitchslap me the next time I cry during a trail marathon). Enough said.
-Outsmarting the enemy:
Naya Nuki embodies the idea that if you want something badly enough, you can achieve it.
The girl wants to go home, and shes not screwing around.
From the second shes kidnapped, Naya Nuki is already plotting her escape—and she uses resourcefulness, a strategic mindset, and careful planning to outsmart the enemy and make it happen.
She watches for landmarks, estimates time and distance, memorizes the layout of her captors camp, and observes the enemy tribes habits. She quickly earns her captors trust so theyll never suspect her of stealing food and other supplies essential to her journey.
The whole book is about self-reliance, but the passages that stand out the most are those in which Naya Nuki realizes that shell be going it alone.
These moments are so profound because, even though shell be on her own, she remains undeterred: she quickly overcomes any fear of independence, accepts that she can only rely on herself, and emerges more determined than ever:
Naya Nuki was saddened by Sacajaweas words. Naya Nuki felt lonely and abandoned. [But] if Sacajawea did not want to escape, Naya Nuki would go alone...She could travel swiftly alone...She could find her own food. She could do it alone. She would do it alone if no one else would go.
She would escape, even if she had to do it alone. As she thought about it, the word alone rang in her mind. It filled her with fear at first. But the more she thought about escaping alone, the more she got used to the idea.
And again, again, and again:
She would escape even if she had to do it alone.
She was alone. There would be no one to help her.
She could only rely on herself.
Every decision was hers alone.
-Believe in yourself. Ignore the naysayers:
Sigh. I dont care if its a novel: Sacagaweas attitude in this book is so irritating. Why is she on a coin again?
For the first time Sacagawea talked about the impossibility of escape. She talked about how far they would have to travel to get back to the mountains. She wondered if they would even be able to get back.... Naya Nuki could see that Sacagawea might not want to escape at all.
“ When the right day comes, we shall escape. I know we can do it. We must do it, you and I, whispered Naya Nuki.
Escape is impossible now...If we did escape, they would be sure to follow us on horses and death would come to us. Great bears, wolves, or other enemy warriors could find us before we got to the mountains, answered Sacajawea softly.”
(Oh, for chrissakes).
Naya Nukis escape is driven by her desire to see her mother again, and her refusal to settle for anything less—especially not a life of slavery.
So, while Naya Nuki is busy stealing supplies and plotting her escape plan, Sacajawea settles, not once but twice. (Argh!!):
“ Now [in captivity] we have plenty of food and are safe from harm, “Sacajawea comments, the first time she gives up on escape and settles for an ‘unpleasantly comfortable’ situation.
The second is when she excitedly tells Naya Nuki: “ ‘I have been sold to a [white man]. I will do his work, eat his food, and he will give me beads and wonderful things the white man has. He will take me to the big village of the white man called Saint Louis.’
Well. Maybe making the best of things is the right idea when youve been kidnapped, enslaved, sold into a non-consensual marriage at the age of 13... Fine. I wont judge.
While Sacajawea is off making the most of her life as a slave, Naya Nuki isnt taking any bullshit:
Yes, Naya Nuki would plan her escape, and she would carry it out successfully. She would return to those she loved. No enemy, no wild animal, and no hardship could hold her back.... No, nothing would stop Naya Nuki from escaping. She would return home or die trying.
Somehow she would find her people. She was sure of it now. Nothing would stop her.
There are countless times that Naya Nuki has to focus on whats directly in front of her—after all, observing of her surroundings is key to her survival. And of course, her focus on the big picture—getting back home to her people—is unwavering throughout the story.
But what strikes me as particularly important is that Naya Nuki maintains mental focus as well. She remains in the present by staying in control of her mind, quickly stopping any thought that could distract her from her immediate and long-term goals.
On that fourth night, Naya Nuki really felt alone....if only Sacajawea could have come with her...I must not waste time wishing for what can never be, she thought. I must think only of survival.
Her great desire to get home must not cause her to take unnecessary chances. She must think clearly.
-Physical strength and mental strength
Similar to above, Naya Nukis physical strength only increases her mental strength.
As Naya Nuki ran, she was so busy paying attention to her efforts that she forgot her fears.
All her senses were needed to help her stay on her feet and keep running. She ran for hours before she even thought of how tired she was getting.
She forgot her tired, aching muscles and ran on and on into the stormy night.
-Trust your instincts
Its more than spidey-sense. Listening to her gut and trusting her instincts saves Naya Nukis life on more than one occasion.
-It can be done
This whole book is about a little girl who wants something so badly that she gets it.
Sure, She has to walk a thousand miles, escape grizzly bears, hide from enemy tribes, wait out snowstorms, avoid being trampled by stampeding buffalo—no one said it would be easy—but, against all odds and through sheer force of will, she achieves what she set out to do.
The point is, Naya Nuki wants what everyone else believes is impossible—and she gets it.
Naya Nukis entire story serves as a reminder that it can be done. It might suck, it might be terrifying—but you can still get there, one step at a time.
Um. So. Hi.
This is why I keep saying that Naya Nuki is the best childrens book for little girls: this is the messaging that we already inundate little boys with, but its exactly what we should be teaching girls from the get-go, too.
That author Kenneth Thomasma is able to impart so many valuable lessons through just one character—an 11 year-old Native American girl, no less—is nothing short of incredible.
And the fact that he wrote a novel about female empowerment, through a character who represents the most marginalized and forgotten group in this country?
A good 40 years before girl power was a thing and feminism became cool again?
I mean, really. Is there some reason why this book hasnt been made into a movie?
Every year theres some boring but wildly successful film about a grown man wandering around the wilderness on his own (Im looking at you, Sean Penn and Leonardo DiCaprio).
Why cant we get the same thing for our kids, with a strong female lead?
I mean, how hard is it?
I get that Disney needs to make back its $8 billion from those little Star Wars and Marvel purchases, but how many more times are they going to subject us to a new spin on the stupid Death Star, or keep saturating theaters with dumb superhero movies?
Hi, Disney? It seems like making movie out of one the best childrens books ever written would be win-win—especially when its the true story of a courageous Native American girl. It might even erase that whole Pocahontas snafu wed all like to forget.
Whatever. Im meandering.
Anyway. Screw Pocahontas, Cinderella, and all the princess stories, too.
Just do your daughters, nieces, and other young women in your life a favor, and buy them a copy of Naya Nuki instead.
I know. A positive review from me, about a book I actually
You know I only gush for the ones that really deserve it.
And after 30+ years of reading Naya Nuki: Shoshoni Girl Who Ran, this book more than deserves it.
And just for the hell of it...
Those long-lasting, positive effects on little girls that I mention above?
I used to think I was born independent and naturally fearless—it never occurred to me to be afraid to move across the country, then across the world multiple times, totally alone.
But now, I dont think I was born with anything at all. Courage, independence, and determination were something I learned...probably at a very young age, and in the pages of a certain book I read in kindergarten...
I also used to think Chris McDougalls Born to Run was the reason Ive been distance racing through mountains and forests every summer for the last 8 years.
It makes sense. I didnt try trail racing until I read McDougalls book. But reading Naya Nuki to my son a few years ago had me seeing things differently.
These races begin as a group of several hundred people, but you inevitably end up running for several hours completely alone; races in the middle of nowhere, so remote that you cant quit, because theres nowhere to quit to —your only way out is to keep going until you reach the finish line; races where pain, exhaustion, and fear are replaced by an intense focus on staying on your feet; running through rivers and mud, up mountainsides, enduring intense downpours or oppressive heat, ignoring the scratches from poison oak and stings from swarming wasps and bees—where you just keep going no matter what, because there is no room for negative thoughts, and the only thing propelling you forward is your determination, and knowing that youll make it through; and that indescribable feeling of freedom of running through all of that pain and rough terrain, with only moccasins for shoes... :)
McDougalls book was excellent.
But I no longer think McDougalls book is what led me to spending my summers racing through the wilderness—rather, McDougalls book awoke a dormant desire in me to do so...one that had been there since, oh, if I had to guess...the first day of kindergarten, 1984, right after recess, when the teacher started reading us the story of a little girl who ran... :)
I'm a Woman Living as a Man
Naya Nuki: A True Story (Reading Comprehension)
Author: Created by canadianwinter. Created: Jun 13, Updated: Feb 22, Read more. Report a problem. View more. How can I re-use this?
This is my first visit to your blog, after it was recommended by my professor I'm taking a Native American Lit class. Because my children are Thomasma fans, I looked for your review of his books, first. This posting was SO helpful!
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Post a Comment. January 23, Naya Nuki the movie. Author ensures Naya Nuki's tale lives on A forgotten story told [Jackson Hole author Kenneth Thomasma] never started writing until he heard the story about Sacajawea. He wanted to tell the children about a lesser known Native American woman he called Naya Nuki, which is Shoshoni for girl who ran. And: Thomasma said in celebration of this book being made into a movie he wanted to leave Green River a few items. He encouraged the children to read the book to find out what happened to Naya Nuki and watch the movie when it comes out.