I Am Apache by Tanya Landman.
Candlewick Press: Cambridge, MA, 2008.

Siki lives among the Southwestern Black Mountain Apache. She watches the slaying of her young brother by a Mexican; he was the last of her family, her mother dying soon after the disappearance of her father.

Left to drift in the community and terrible at the skills of the women, Siki decides to become a female warrior. She quickly impresses the great warrior Golahka who is in charge of training. She also shows signs of having seer powers. Taunted by Keste, a warrior-in-training who is jealous of her status, she doubts her fathers honor and her place in the tribe, even as she accomplishes each task given and is honored herself.

It is a coming of age story during a time of great upheaval. The Mexicans have long been the enemy to her people, and now the White Eyes are moving in and grasping the land from them. Siki senses that either an Apache or Mexican is helping the White Eyes in their conquest, someone who knows the Apache land as if raised on it. The question of future is most important. Siki sees herself as an Apache, though she has doubts about belonging, but when she sees her tribe cannot hope to survive, can she live another way? There are secrets buried in her past that could change everything. It comes down to What makes her who she is, and is that more important than survival?

Siki is a strong female character - adept at warrior skills, independent enough to make her own choice and follow it, with skills crucial to the survival of her tribe, with understanding and compassion even related to an enemy.

I enjoyed this fictional account. Landman has imagined an excellent tale of a young woman forced to choose between her life with the Apache or a future among the Europeans who are too numerous to stop, and it takes place in a different region than what is normally used, adding the part that Mexicans (Spanish descent) played.

related-European/American conquest, captives, slavery, slaughter of the Apache tribes, identity, females in nontraditional roles, seers, captives included in the tribe

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