My Christmas Coat: Memories of My Sioux Childhood

Book Summary: 

Virginia’s family and many others in her community in South Dakota are accustomed to receiving clothing that has been sent to them in boxes by people in the Eastern U.S. Virginia’s mother expects her to allow others to select items from the boxes before she does. This year Virginia is hoping to replace her too small coat and is having difficulty watching another girl pick the coat she’d like to have.

Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve
Ellen Beier
Holiday House
Guiding Question: 

Poverty is a complex issue. The family in this story is not well off financially though they have the necessities of life. How have past governmental policies affected Sioux people today?

Howard’s Format from You Can’t Teach What You Don’t Know (73-85): 

Honesty- The history of the European-Americans in the U.S. can be difficult to accept. Several factors made for conflict between European-Americans and the Sioux: Europeans wanted the land the Sioux had traditionally hunted on, the U.S. government wanted the same land to build railroads on, and gold was found on the Sioux’s land. Many battles were fought with and treaties signed that caused the Sioux to lose the rights to land they once freely used. One website that explains these events is:

Empathy- With the help of your teacher, read the following article to get a clearer idea of some of the challenges for modern day Sioux children:

Advocacy- Due to poverty and many other challenges, Sioux people rarely attend or finish college. Go to the American Indian College Fund website to find out how some people are trying to help:

Action- With your class, decide if you would like to make a contribution to the American Indian College Fund. If you would, develop a fund-raising activity and learn how to make a donation at:

Note to the teacher: If it is likely that this read-aloud is one of the few interactions your students will have with Native Americans, be sure to present a balanced representation of this varied people. Read other stories in which Native American people are thriving.