Reviews of The White Oneida
The Loyalist Gazette
The White Oneida picks up where earlier novels end but it can be read as a stand-alone adventure. I
would recommend reading earlier work by Jean Rae Baxter that allow the reader to understand what came
before this novel takes place.
Baxter's first books, The Way Lies North and Broken Trail, were reviewed earlier in the Fall 2008 and Fall 2011 Gazettes. These books introduce the reader to conditions in the Mohawk Valley during the American War of Independence as settlers and aboriginal peoples fought for land and rights and both Loyalists and natives were forced northward to British-held lands in Canada. More than historical adventure, these novels reveal what the author wants us to know about native, especially Oneida, ways of living.
Moses Cobman, or Broken Trail, the protagonists, stands between two worlds. Born white, but raised by Oneidas, he has been given the task and opportunity to develop his leadership ability by none other than Thayendanegea, also known as Joseph Brant.
Set at the prestigious Sedgewick School, the author's practised skill includes enough historical detail to pique the interest of the true historian, while not drowning the plot in dry detail. Touching on both virtues and vices of boarding school staff, as well as how politics, power and influence affected the lives of the students, this book challenges the youthful reader to think about leadership and purpose, as well as what skills in conflict resolution bring lasting consensus and peace. The novel raises the question of motives and politics in regard to the crushing poverty of starving Indian families travelling north. There is a heart-wrenching contrast between Joseph Brant's extravagant and luxurious lifestyle. Was he a true leader or a sell out? Moses Cobman has much to learn and so do we.
Reviewer: Grietje McBridge, UE
Resource Links Reviews
Rating: E for Excellent
In this novel, the young Oneida warrior Broken Trail is advised by aboriginal leader Joseph Brant to attend a respected school in what is now Vermont, where he will meet and possibly persuade to join the move to create an independent nation of aboriginals, a number of young men form various tribes. Having been born white is a disadvantage to Broken Trail but he proves himself to his aboriginal brethren and also manages, through mixing up lacrosse teams, to create a tentative confederacy among the many tribes represented at the school.
Baxter skilfully assumes historical fact with her fiction without using it to carry the narrative... The relationship between Broken Trail and his fellow ďScholarsĒ as they are called, as well as his friendship with Margaret (Yellowbird) are utterly believable and do not suffer from historical distortion... Baxterís implied historical narrative gives resonance to her believable characters, creating an almost organic approach to a difficult history whose story is still evolving.
Reviewer: Lesley Little
CanLit for Little Canadians
July 3, 2014
The White Oneida, by Jean Rae Baxter, was an amazing book! Set during the 1700ís, the protagonistís name is
Broken Trail. Broken Trail was born white, but when he was 10, he was kidnapped by the Oneida tribe. He grew
up appreciating their culture and ways of life, and wouldnít want to live any other way. Then, he meets a
powerful man named Joseph Brant, who wants to unite all of the tribes and help them learn together. He sends
Broken Trail to school because he thinks that will help him with his mission.
Broken Trail meets an aboriginal girl named Margaret, who wants to help him unite the tribes. His first move is to combine the tribes in the school lacrosse games, which makes a big difference within the school. Broken Trail is a huge influence on many students, including Christians. During his stay at the school, he busts a teacher, saves a professor and a student from dying, and befriends many people. The story continues, but you must read the book to find out what happens nextÖ
From this book, I learned many things about history, a subject I canít wait to study in grade seven. There were many conflicts between white and Aboriginal peoples, though some respected most people. Many First Nations were being given a horrible reputation by scholars, and Broken Trail had to sit through this torture.
Whether youíre reading this book on the way to a soccer game, as I was, or curling up with it before bed, I can guarantee that you will love and thoroughly enjoy this book, and be begging for more. Even though I hadnít read the first book, everything was clearly and beautifully explained, and I didnít get lost once! Enjoy your reading! :)
Reviewer: Grace D. (Age 12)
Link here: http://canlitforlittlecanadians.blogspot.ca/2014/07/the-white-oneida-guest-review-1.html
Quill & Quire
... Baxter is an astute storyteller, avoiding the pitfall of relying on historical fact to carry
the story. What could have been merely a narrative about Broken Trailís experience helping
Thayendanegea in his political machinations is instead the captivating story of a young
manís education in the ways of both his peoples, and, ultimately, his acceptance of himself
as he truly is, not as others want him to be.
Reviewer: Helen Kubiw