After Susanna's family is massacred by Lenape warriors, they take her as a captive. Though haunted by grief, she adapts to the ways of the Lenape and she begins to have spirit dreams, much like her deceased mother. But she comes to see that these powers are her destiny and the bridge between two worlds.
Katherine Kirkpatrick lives close to where Anne Hutchinson's farm once stood.
NOTE TO TEACHERS
In the Classroom
Because historical fiction enhances the study of history by combining fact and fiction, Trouble’s Daughter is a perfect choice for studying early American History. Young readers will relate to Susanna’s strong need to belong and will find her courageous life an exciting adventure. For this reason, the novel is an excellent book to read aloud. By reading and studying this novel, students will be challenged to think about the themes of courage, survival, making choices, and family. They may also explore the culture of the Lenape Indian Tribe through activities that link the language arts, social studies, science, art, and creative drama curriculum.
ABOUT THIS BOOK
Nine-year-old Susanna Hutchinson, the sole survivor of an Indian massacre in 1643, is captured by Lenape Indians, given the name Mee-pahk, and raised as their daughter.
Anne Hutchinson, known in the Colonies for her religious freethinking, takes her family to live in the wilderness near Long Island Sound where the Lenape Indian Tribe is at war with the Dutch. In one terrifying afternoon, the Indians attack the Hutchinson family, killing all except 9-year-old Susanna. When the Indians capture her, Susanna realizes that her only chance of survival is to become a member of the Lenape family by adopting their language and practicing their ways. After several years with the Lenape Tribe, Susanna, known as Mee-pahk to her Indian family, is traded back to her people as part of a peace treaty between the Indians and the Dutch. Confused about her place in the world, Susanna calls upon the courage she learned from her mother and her Indian family and searches for a way to bridge her two worlds.
Courage and Honor— Susanna is frightened when the Indians capture her. At what point does she realize that her only tool for survival is courage? Ask students to discuss the many times that Susanna displays courage in the novel. How does it take courage for Susanna to return to her people? What does Som-kway teach Susanna about courage?
Survival — Som-kway tells Susanna, "Ignorance is destroyed only by awakening to knowledge" (p. 123). How does this statement relate to the survival of any culture? How does Susanna’s willingness to learn about the ways and culture of the Lenape Tribe enhance her ability to survive in their world? Susanna bore eleven children and lived to be quite old. Discuss whether her lessons in survival while living with the Indians contributed to her long life.
Making Choices— Susanna faces difficult decisions throughout her young life. What are some of the major decisions that Susanna makes when she first comes to live with the Indians? Som-kway says to Susanna, "Sometimes in life we must make difficult choices. We do one thing or another. There is sadness because we cannot do both things, be in two places at once" (p. 117). Ask the class to discuss whether they think Wam-pak has a tough time making the decision to sell Susanna at the end of the novel.
Family— Ask students to describe Anne Hutchinson’s relationship with her children. What does Susanna learn from her mother?
The Lenape Indians who capture Susanna become her family. Wam-pak says, "Mee-pahk, you are my daughter and I am your father. I will protect you as a father" (p. 37). How does Wam-pak protect Mee-pahk? Who is her surrogate mother? Who are her brothers and sisters? Explain Wam-pak’s gift of a bear-fur cloak to Mee-pahk. Ask the class to discuss what Susanna might have learned about the meaning of family from the Lenape Indians.
DISCUSSION AND WRITING
Introduce the novel by reading aloud the "Historical Notes" at the end of the novel. Ask students to take special notice of Kirkpatrick’s statement, "Though efforts have been made to accurately depict the customs of the Lenape Indians in this book, artistic liberties have been taken" (p. 229). Engage the class in a discussion about how a reader distinguishes between fact and fiction. Instruct them to write down questions of authenticity as they read the novel. (Send students to the library to research their questions after they have read the novel.)
Language Arts--- Myths and legends are an important part of the culture and heritage of most Native American tribes. Ask students to write a myth or legend based on a special belief or event in the novel. For example, a student may wish to embellish the story of the wem-an-tay-ku-nees-uk, the magical dwarfs that lived in the forest (p. 79). Chan-koh makes a speech when Susanna departs to return to her people. He says, "We have had difficult seasons in the years we have gown up together. We have had joyful seasons" (p. 204). Ask students to make a memory book that Susanna might make about the joyful times that she spent with the Lenape Tribe. The book should include writings, drawings, and an appropriate cover.
Social Studies--- Anne Hutchinson, Susanna’s mother, was tried and convicted of heresy. Ask students to research the Puritan beliefs, especially their feelings toward women. Why is Anne Hutchinson an important figure in women’s history? There is an article about Anne Hutchinson in the Encyclopedia of Women’s History at www.teleport.com. Ask students to write a brief article about Susanna Hutchinson for this encyclopedia. How might Susanna be compared to her mother?
Ask students to find out about the Delaware Tribe by visiting their web site at www.delawaretribeofindians.nsn.us. When did the tribe migrate to the Midwest? Who is the Chief of the Delaware Tribe today? What are his duties and responsibilities? How did he become Chief? What are the requirements to be an official member of the tribe?
Science--- Som-kway was a mu-the-kway, a medicine woman. She tried to teach Mee-pahk her methods of healing. Have students make a list of the herbs and plants that Som-kway used to cure her people of sickness. Then have students visit a health foods store or locate information about healing herbs on the Internet. Make a chart listing common herbs and their medicinal purposes that are used by people today.
Native Americans were the first environmentalists. Ask students to find evidence in the novel that the Lenape Tribe were concerned with the environment and conservation. What might our society learn about conservation from the early Native Americans?
Art--The Water Drum was a common instrument of the Lenape Tribe. They made the drums from hollow logs, pottery, gourds and other items that could be filled with water. Ask students to make a Water Drum and decorate it with symbols that represent the Lenape Tribe.
Creative Drama-- Ceremonies such as "Dance the Dolls" and the "Gamwing Ceremony" were very important to the Lenape Tribe. Divide the class into small groups and ask them to select one of the Lenape ceremonies to dramatize for the class. Encourage them to preface their performance with a brief explanation about the purpose of the ceremony.
Vocabulary/Use of Language
The author uses many Lenape words in the novel and provides a pronunciation and translation guide in the back of the book (p. 232-240). Students may want to learn some of this vocabulary and practice pronouncing the words. Ask students to identify other unfamiliar words in the novel and define them using the context of the story. Such words may include translucent (p. 4), impertinence (p. 5), pungent (p. 13), silhouette (p. 14), cavernous (p. 21), audacity (p. 94), and arrogant (p. 141).
"Kirkpatrick not only spins a good story, she successfully makes readers understand what is happening inside Susannah’s head." -- Starred, Booklist
"Top-notch historical fiction." -- School Library Journal
"Through Susannah’s complex coming-of-age, Kirkpatrick transforms tragedy into redemption and offers a message of peace and hope." -- Publishers Weekly
"Kirkpatrick tackles a sensitive subject and makes it ring true through acute details and the well-paced growth of her real-life protagonist." -- Kirkus Reviews
OTHER TITLES OF INTEREST
Elizabeth George Speare
Courage, Historical Fiction, Native Americans, Survival
I Am Regina
Sally M. Keehn
Courage, Historical Fiction, Native Americans, Survival
Grades 5 up
The Sign of the Beaver
Elizabeth George Speare
Courage, Friendship, Historical Fiction, Native Americans
ABOUT THIS GUIDE
Teaching ideas prepared by Pat Scales, director of library media services, the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, Greenville, SC.
The official site of the Delaware (Lenape) Tribe of Indians.