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Spirit Car : Journey to a Dakota Past
by Wilson, Diane
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1. Compare what you learned in school about the 1862 Dakota War to the way this story unfolds. What, if anything, has changed in your understanding of this event?

2. How might the author's life have been different if she had had a strong sense of her Dakota heritage as a child?

3. Whose story is the author telling? For whom is she writing the story?

4. What impact is achieved by the Dakota Indian history being told through personal family stories? How is the effect different from reading about the same events in a history book?

5. Would Lucille's life likely have been better or more difficult without her boarding school experiences? What do you think the boarding schools represented to the Dakota Indian families?

6. Talk about what the author means when she talks about riding in her spirit car. Have you ever had a similar experience in connecting with the past?

7. Give examples of when the author uses humor in the book. What role does humor play?

8. What is the biggest loss the author is writing about? Discuss the various losses documented in the book.

9. The last sentence of the book is the authors response to her mother, Lucille: 'Yes, I think things are changing for the better.' What do the author and Lucille mean by this statement?

10. In thinking about your own family, do you know how and why they came to America (if non-Native)? Do you know of any significant history your family members lived through, such as wars or depressions or world-changing inventions like the telephone?

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