O’siyo. In the past we’ve posted about children’s literature. Now it’s time to review Native books in the young adult category. Here are some great reads selected for The American Indian Youth Literature Awards for 2014.
Excerpt: Sci-Fi, Mysticism and Tragedy Indian Youth Literature Awards…ICTMN
“Mysticism, science fiction and tragedy mark the 2014 American Indian Youth Literature Awards from the American Indian Library Association, with Tomson Highway, Joseph Bruchac and Tim Tingle all winning honors this year. The American Indian Youth Literature Awards, presented every other year, seek “to identify and honor the very best writing and illustrations by and about American Indians,” the library association said in a media release. “Books selected to receive the award will present American Indians in the fullness of their humanity in the present and past contexts.”
The beautiful Award medallion Seal designed by Corwin Clairmont (Salish) Beaded by Linda King (Salish). Flickr- htomren.
Caribou Song by Tomson Highway and illustrated by John Rombough.
Caribou Song, Atihko Oonagamoon, written by Tomson Highway and illustrated by John Rombough (Fifth House, 2012) won for best picture book;
“Joe and Cody are young Cree brothers who follow the caribou all year long, tucked into their dog sled with Mama and Papa. To entice the wandering caribou, Joe plays his accordion and Cody dances. They are so involved with their dancing and music that they don’t hear the roaring of the approaching herd of caribou. Bursting upon the boys, ten thousand animals fill the meadow. Joe is surrounded and can barely see Cody a short distance away. And neither of the boys can see their parents. And yet what should be a moment of terror turns into something mystical and magical, as the boys open their arms and their hearts to embrace the caribou spirit.”
How I Became a Ghost- A Choctaw Trail of Tears Story by Tim Tingle.
Tim Tingle’s How I Became a Ghost: A Choctaw Trail of Tears Story
(The Roadrunner Press, 2013) won in the Middle School category, and Bruchac’s graphic novel Killer of Enemies (Tu Books, 2013) received the Young Adult award.
“How I Became a Ghost is a tragic tale that gives life to Choctaw walking the Trail of Tears, and then takes it away. Its protagonist is Isaac, a Choctaw boy who does not survive the long walk.”
Danny Blackgoat, Navajo Prisoner by Tim Tingle.
Danny Blackgoat, Navajo Prisoner, also by Tingle (7th Generation, 2013) was noted in the Middle School category.
“Danny Blackgoat is a teenager in Navajo country when soldiers burn down his home, kill his sheep and capture his family. During the Long Walk of 1864, Danny is labeled a troublemaker and given the name Fire Eye. Refusing to accept captivity, he is sent to Fort Davis, Texas, a Civil War prisoner outpost. There he battles bullying fellow prisoners, rattlesnakes and abusive soldiers until he meets Jim Davis. Jim teaches Danny how to hold his anger and starts him on the road to literacy. In a stunning climax, Jim–who builds coffins for the dead–aids Danny in a daring and dangerous escape. Set in troubled times, “Danny Blackgoat” is the story of one boy’s hunger to be free “and” be Navajo.” Goodreads.
If I Ever Get Out of Here, by Eric Gansworth.
If I Ever Get Out of Here, by Eric Gansworth (Arthur A. Levin Books, 2013), was highlighted in the Young Adult category.
“Lewis “Shoe” Blake is used to the joys and difficulties of life on the Tuscarora Indian reservation in 1975: the joking, the Fireball games, the snow blowing through his roof. What he’s not used to is white people being nice to him — people like George Haddonfield, whose family recently moved to town with the Air Force. As the boys connect through their mutual passion for music, especially the Beatles, Lewis has to lie more and more to hide the reality of his family’s poverty from George. He also has to deal with the vicious Evan Reininger, who makes Lewis the special target of his wrath. But when everyone else is on Evan’s side, how can he be defeated? And if George finds out the truth about Lewis’s home — will he still be his friend?” Goodreads.
Killer of Enemies by Joseph Bruchac
Killer of Enemies by Joseph Bruchac
“Killer of Enemies is a graphic sci-fi novel set in a future in which technology has stopped working, plunging the world back into a new steam age. A 17-year-old girl, Lozen, finds herself a hero.”
Kudos to the gifted writers, the American Indian Library Association, and to all of the wonderful people who support and encourage reading.
“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” ~Charles William Eliot~
Legend of the Talking Feather (also known as The Talking Stick): Kanati and Asgaya Gigagei Bestow the Gift of The Talking Feather
There are many legends about how the Indians learned about the Talking Feather/Talking Stick. Here is one of them…
Long years ago, when gods walked this earth and the land beyond, Kanati and Asgaya Gigagei, were together enjoying the warm summer day. It was a day when the crickets chirrupted in the waving, green grass,when they noticed a figure moving towards them.
As the figure approached closer Kanati said “Look, that woman is crying, what could be the matter?” “I can not imagine why anyone would cry on such a glorious day.” Replied Asgaya Gigagei. “Let’s ask her.”
As the woman drew nearer, they could see her buckskin was decorated with beautiful designs and colors. She carried a bundle filled with leaves, sage, and colorful stones and feathers. They knew immediately this woman was a holy being.
Kanati asked her “Holy mother, why are you crying so?” The woman looked up in wonder, because she had been walking with her head down. “I’m crying because the men of my village are fighting constantly! Each thinks his ideas for leading the tribe is the best!” Kanati and Asgaya Gigagei glanced at one another, in perplexity. “Why, if there are so many good ideas for leading your tribe, why are the men fighting? And why aren’t you and the other members happy!” The poor woman shook her head sadly and replied, “Yes, you are right, the men do have very good ideas, but every man wants to speak his own ideas, and not listen to anyone else. They all shout and scream at one another so loudly, that it frightens the children who run and hide behind their mothers. The women are sad because their husbands come to the house upset and angry. Furthermore, the tribe is suffering, because no one can seem to make a decision.” Just then a beautiful Eagle was soaring overhead, Kanati called out “Brother Eagle, may I have one of your feathers, there are poor humans in desperate need!”
Bother Eagle replied “Yes” and shook himself until a single iridescent, large feather fell to the ground. “Many thanks and Blessings on you” said Kanati. Kanati made secret signs and prayers over the Feather. Asgaya Gigagei helped him with the blessings. Kanati then said to the woman “This is the sacred Talking Father, it holds great power for the one who holds it. Go back to your people, hold this feather up in the air, all who see it will fall silent, and listen to what you have to say. Tell all who listen that from now on, who ever holds this feather, all present within the Circle Council must listen to his words. The feather must then be passed on to the next speaker.”
The woman thanked Kanati and Asgaya Gigagei and hurried back to her village where there was total chaos!. Everyone was talking at once, children were crying, men were screaming at each other. As soon as she held the feather over her head, all became quiet! No one could utter a sound! the holy woman proceeded to give the directions given to her by the gods. She then passed the feather to the first man. He called the Talking Circle together, and each man had his say as he held the feather. From that time on that tribe flourished because they now had direction, and each person could hear and understand what their peers said. The people worked together, to build a great nation. Along the way, they shared the wonders of the Talking Feather with other tribes they met. “And that my friends is the true story of how the Talking Feather came to be!”