Cover image for My heroes, my people : African Americans and Native Americans in the West
My heroes, my people : African Americans and Native Americans in the West
Monceaux, Morgan.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Frances Foster Books, 1999.
Physical Description:
63 pages : color illustrations : 29 cm
Presents brief portraits of an assortment of African Americans, Native peoples, and men and women of mixed heritage who played roles in the history of the American West.
Reading Level:
1120 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 7.6 1.0 75170.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 8.1 5 Quiz: 30889 Guided reading level: Z.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
F596.3.N4 K38 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Childrens Area-Black History
F596.3.N4 K38 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Oversize
F596.3.N4 K38 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Oversize

On Order



An artist's look at how the West was won by some -- and lost by others. This unique album introduces readers to African Americans and Native Americans who had a role in the westward expansion of the United States, as fur traders, stagecoach drivers, cowboys, soldiers, nurses, mail-order brides, and tribal chiefs. Through Morgan Monceaux's striking portraits (executed in oil pastels, paint, markers, and collage) and the accompanying biographical sketches and historical notes, readers meet some of the men and women -- black and red -- whose names have come down to us through legend and history. Some are well known; others were minor players on a great stage whose lives can be traced through a photograph, a letter, or a government record. Taken together, they give us an extraordinary picture of the West and an appreciation of the human need to be free -- for as African American settlers were enjoying newfound freedom, their Native American neighbors were fighting to preserve theirs.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 3^-6. This unusual and interesting offering has both strong and weak points. The premise is promising: an introduction to a spectrum of African Americans, native Americans, and people of mixed race who played a role--some starring, some bit players--in the saga of the American West. Then there are the strong portraits that accompany each profile. Monceaux, a self-taught artist, uses a folk-art style and works in oil pastels, markers, paint, and collage to present the subjects--from Montezuma and cowboy Nat Love to Geronimo and several women of color. Hand-written jottings surrounding each portrait contain extra information. These notes are problematic because they are sometimes indecipherable. That's too bad, because the book's text, which ranges from paragraphs to a sentence, does not provide a lot of information. Also troubling is the book's organization. Categories, such as women, Native Americans, and African Americans and Native Americans United, overlap, making some of the subdivisions inconsistent. Although this will primarily be a browsing item, its strength is its glimpse of what the Old West was like for a person of color. --Ilene Cooper

Publisher's Weekly Review

In a companion volume to his Jazz: My Music, My People, self-taught artist Monceaux pairs brief biographical essays with mixed-media portraits of people of color who were "significant in the history of the Western United States." The book opens with a section featuring legendary figures Montezuma, Pocahontas and Toussaint L'Ouverture (who seem oddly placed in a book about the American "landscape beyond the Mississippi"), then shifts to present 19th-century African-Americans, grouped primarily by profession. While the stories of little-known African-Americans are the focus here, the next section profiles prominent Native American tribal chiefs and leaders and their often disastrous interactions with whites. The brevity of the book's text does not allow Monceaux and Katcher to present more than the barest outlines of their subjects' lives, but their presentation has a brisk, crisp style. The real draw here is Monceaux's arresting artwork (originally shown in a gallery). He renders his stylized, dignified portraits in pastels, markers and paint and adorns them with buttons and fabric, toy guns and playing cards. He encircles each portrait with text in a style similar to that of Faith Ringgold's work; the paintings will inspire both deep examination and contemplation. Ages 10-up. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Gr 5 Up-The 36 heroes of the title include fur traders, cowboys, outlaws, buffalo soldiers and their nurse, a stagecoach driver, chiefs, and myriad other "people of color" who played a role in developing our country. Most of these Native Americans, African Americans, Mexicans, and individuals of mixed ancestry were part of the American West, but the section titled "The Legends" goes as far back as Montezuma and Pocahontas. For each hero, there is a short biographical note ranging from a phrase to two pages of text. These are appetizers, not full meals. Historical information is presented, but judgments are left to readers. The true focus of each of the entries is a buoyant, colorful portrait done in mixed media. Monceaux has added phrases and sentences to the art, as well as feathers, shells, cloth, coins, and even a pair of toy guns. The result is a striking, personal expression full of energy. An attractive layout with generous white space contributes to the high-quality presentation. An interesting and up-to-date annotated bibliography adds a finishing touch.-Darcy Schild, Schwegler Elementary School, Lawrence, KS (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.