Sunday, March 18, 2018

Not Recommended: TOMO EXPLORES THE WORLD (and the TOMO series) by Trevor Lai

A few days ago, I learned about Tomo Takes Flight by Trevor Lai. Published in 2017 by Imprint/ (Macmillan), it is part of a series. Based on suggestions that it has Native content, I decided I ought to take a look.

The first of Trevor Lai's Tomo books, Tomo Explores the World, was published in 2017. Two others are due out in 2018.

According to Animation World Network, Lai was born and raised in the area currently called Vancouver.* His parents are of "Hangzhou, Hong Kong and Taiwanese descent." In 2012, Lai founded UpStudios. Here's a couple of paragraphs from the article that help me think about his Tomo books.
Up Studios may be based in China, but Lai stresses that neither location nor nationality defines his company. He looks for universal stories rather than those based on Chinese culture or heritage. “We definitely consider the Chinese market for all [our properties] but they don’t necessarily have to launch here first,” he explains. “I’m really proud of the fact that we make shows as a Chinese company, and the success we have in the local market is wonderful. But, I think the international validation of the concept has to be, ‘Now its on the BBC, now it’s on CBC in Canada, and oh, by the way, it was created in China.’”
Indeed, some of his main achievements to date are with international publishers. In 2015, Bloomsbury Children’s Books signed another of his characters, Piggy, on a six-figure picture book series contract, the largest ever US debut deal for a children’s author in China. That was followed by a deal with Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group for a book series based on his explorer, Tomo.
A "universal" story can often fall into a very slippery (not recommendable) space. Tomo is a good example of that. Tomo is apparently meant to be a Native kid--but his nation--to Lai, doesn't matter. Tomo lives on a tiny island. Tomo's people fish. He doesn't like to eat fish, and he doesn't like to fish, either. Here's his dad:

Here's his grandfather (I'm wondering if this wise man with ear to ground is based on that Hollywood image of an Indian with his ear to the ground...):

Here's his great grandfather (do the Indigenous peoples of the area currently called Vancouver tell a traditional story about a fisherman taking a fish from a shark? If so, then Lai is appropriating an Indigenous story):

And here's Tomo:

Given that the author grew up in Vancouver and the Tomo books are about a fishing people, I'd at least expect the illustrations to reflect the art and culture of one of the Indigenous peoples in that area, but here's where that "universal" part gets the author in trouble. Instead of being specific, Lai gives kids stereotypes. In the illustrations I shared above, note the geometric designs on their clothing, the turquoise jewelry, the bear claw necklace, and the pendants they all wear (each with a unique image on them). That sort of imagery is throughout the book.

Lai's work is, I gather, doing quite well. That's good for his pocketbook, but not for children whose ideas of Indigenous peoples will be warped by the Tomo books. In short, I do not recommend the Tomo series of books by Trevor Lai.


*Several weeks ago, I read a series of tweets from Indigenous scholars in Canada who are using "currently called" or similar phrases for places. While some will obviously find that sort of thing threatening, I think it is also accurate and a terrific way for us to remind readers that all these places were, and are, known by different names to the original peoples of the places currently known as the United States and Canada.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Not Recommended: LEGENDS OF THE LOST CAUSES by Brad McLelland and Louis Sylvester

Legends of the Lost Causes, written by Brad McLelland and Louis Sylvester was released on Feb 20 of 2018 from Henry Holt (Macmillan). I read a NetGalley copy of it, and it is on my Not Recommended list.

Here's the description of the book:
A band of orphan avengers. A cursed stone. A horde of zombie outlaws.
This is Keech Blackwood’s new life after Bad Whiskey Nelson descends upon the Home for Lost Causes and burns it to the ground.
With his home destroyed and his family lost, Keech will have to use the lessons he learned from Pa Abner to hunt down the powerful Char Stone. Luckily, he has the help of a ragtag team of orphans. Together, they’ll travel through treacherous forests, fight off the risen dead, and discover that they share mysterious bonds as they search for the legendary stone. Now it’s a race against the clock, because if Bad Whiskey finds the stone first…all is lost.
But Keech and the other orphans won’t hesitate. Because they’re more than just heroes.
They’re Lost Causes.
Legends of the Lost Causes marks the thrilling start to an action-packed middle grade series by debut authors Brad McLelland and Louis Sylvester.


As you glean from the description, the main character is Keech Blackwood. He's an orphan, living with Pa Abner (who isn't what he seems). As we read this book, we learn that Keech is "half" Osage. The story is set in 1855 in Missouri.

Macmillan (the publisher) has a page for the book that includes a blurb for Legends of the Lost Causes from the Wah-Zha-Zhi Cultural Center (that's part of the Osage Nation), which suggests someone there read the book. I wonder, though, if they were given the whole book? Or just the snippets about Osage culture? We don't know. I also wonder if anyone who is Abenaki (or who has expertise about Abenaki people) was asked to look over the Abenaki parts?

Here's some of my questions for the authors--for all authors, in some ways--and some initial research findings.

  • When will writers stop making up names like "Wolf" for Native characters who hunt? Do Osage people use that method for naming each other? Did the authors of Legends of the Lost Causes do some research on Osage naming? 
  • Why did McLelland and Sylvester use Abenaki words for the creatures who are raised from the dead? 
  • Where did McLelland and Sylvester get the Abenaki words ("gita-skog" in chapter 3; "tsi'noo" in chapter 7; "P'mola" in the Interlude) they used? 
The first hit for "gita-skog" is a site I do not recommend (Native Another one is to a horror movie with that title, made in 2015.
The first hit for "tsi'noo" is also to the Native site, to an another spelling for that word, "chenoo". The second one is to the "Abenaki mythology" page on Wikipedia. (Note to everyone: please don't rely on Native content you find on Wikipedia! You can start there but be very careful. Look at sources critically!)
I didn't find "P'mola" outside of this book. I gather the authors (via a character named Reverend Rose, a missionary amongst the Abenaki who did something to betray their trust) made it up.   
  • Is there--in fact--an oversized black bear (a monster) in Osage culture, called a "wasape"?
  • Where did McLelland and Sylvester get the Osage words ("Zh-sape", "A tha no ko", "Shto be" and Wasape in chapter 18) they used?
Some of those words, or words close to them in spelling are in Carolyn Quintero's Osage Dictionary but I don't know if her book is used by the Osage people in their language courses. I'll see what I can find out. 
  • I assume the authors wanted Granny to be realistic--with that realism being that she thinks Native people are heathens, but is it necessary for a good character (like Granny) to use derogatory words like "heathen" or even "uncivilized" in her remarks to any character?
  • What is a "buffalo hair breechcloth"?! Keech finds a dead man wearing one and declares that the dead man, clad in that buffalo hair breechcloth, is Osage. When I do a search on an item and the only result is the book that item appears in... I think the author has made it up. Attributing it to a particular tribal nation, then, is really arrogant. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe there is such a thing. If yes, please let me know in the comments and I'll come back up here and revisit this bullet item. 

And here's my concluding thoughts:

The White man who took Keech in when his parents were killed is the one who "taught" him Osage culture, but the things Keech says and thinks throughout this book sound like a White Man's Indian (see Berkhofer's book of that title). By that, I mean, a Native character created from the imaginings of a White Man, based on "knowledge" gleaned from other White Men. In other words? Stereotypical. Whether bloodthirsty or romantic, they are wrong, and that's what I see in Legends of the Lost Causes. The use of Native languages, in the ways they are used in this book is also troubling, and the digging up of Native graves in chapter 26 and 27 is grotesque and utterly tone deaf (see NAGPRA, please!). 

What we have in Legends of the Lost Causes is another round of appropriation, misrepresentation, and desecration--in a series (which means we'll get more of the same) -- from a major publisher (which means this book series will get into a lot of libraries, and a lot of kids will "learn" from it.)

The major review journals didn't pick up on any of these problems. The reviewer at School Library Journal said that the book "eliminates harmful stereotypes of Native populations." I disagree. The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books called it an "easy read for fans of Westerns." That sentence ought to be revised to read "easy read for white fans of Westerns" or something like that. Yeah, I'm being a bit snarky, but clearly, there are problems in this book that reviewers are missing. Editors of these journals might consider steps they can take to help reviewers remember that Native kids read these books, too. 

In short, I do not recommend Legends of the Lost Causes by Brad McLelland and Louis Sylvester. 



Chapter One: Bad Whiskey

Right away, we meet 13-year-old Keech Blackwood and his brother, Sam (who has a scar on the side of his face). Sam is doing a "champion's dance" after besting Keech on a game they play. Because Keech is Osage (we don't know that, yet), I wonder if the "champion's dance" is meant to signal that Keech is Osage? And, I wonder if the author's use of "champion's dance" is our first indicator that they don't know much about Native culture? I've not seen or heard of a "champion's dance" before--and am thinking that the authors heard or read about a victory dance (which is a real thing) and somehow that morphed into "champion's dance" in their heads?

We also meet the character, "Bad Whiskey" when he comes upon the boys. They think he's creepy, Sam tells Keech they can run from him, and that he (Sam) is "the Rabbit" and can run fast.

Whiskey asks if the boys remember the Alamo. Which one, he asks, is being Jim Bowie, and which one has "the awful job of playin' Santa Anna?" Keech thinks about how Davy Crockett is "their favorite hero of the Alamo." I'm wondering what the author's back story is for the boys making Davy Crockett their hero?

The boys make it home, and for good luck, slap the sign that borders the yard. It says:


Chapter Two: The Guardian

We meet Granny Nell who gives Sam heck (calling him Samuel) for leaving his bible on the stairs. She says, "Samuel, we may live in a home built square in the center of nowhere, but that does not mean you can act like a heathen. You are twelve years old and can use a bookshelf like the rest of us civilized folk."

When she asks the boys where they were, Keech says they were tracking rabbits. She says to them, "Then tell me, Lewis and Clark, what do your keen eyes see when you gaze at yonder empty table?" They tell her what happened and she sends them directly to tell Pa Abner (he's the man who took them in when their parents were killed.)

Chapter Three: Pa Abner's Secret

As they approach, Pa tells them "Well, well, its the Wolf and the Rabbit, back from their adventure." My guess is that Keech's "Indian" name is Wolf. Pa wears a silver pendant that is "at the center of Keech's earliest memory. He'd been three years old and something terrible had happened to his real parents, but he couldn't remember what that memory was." What he does remember, is being in Pa Abner's arms when a "whirlwind of dust" flew about them. Keech felt a dry heat, and pressed his cheek into Pa, touching the pendant and feeling an icy chill pulsating from the pendant.

Pa tells them that Whiskey is part of a gang that called itself the "Gita-skog, a name stolen from the Abenaki tribes up north. Means 'big snake' or some such." Why, I wonder did the author choose this name for this gang? The book is set after the battle at the Alamo, which was December 1835. Where is this particular plot point going to go?

Pa tells the boys not to say their last name, Blackwood. When Whiskey arrives, he talks about spring of 1845, and that a decade has passed, so, this story is set in 1855. We learn that Pa was in the gang but left it and that he doesn't know what happened to the Char Stone, which is what Whiskey is after. Whiskey says he is the Gita-Skog. Pa rebuffs his claim.

Whiskey is described in ways that make him seem not human.

Chapter Four: A Message of Grave Importance

Pa takes Keech to his study, where the boys got weekly lessons on "the Native peoples, particularly the Osage, who had once inhabited the river lands south of the county. Having been close friends with important Osage leaders, Pa kept the study festooned with a veritable treasure trove of gifts and traded objects--a beaded vest of red, yellow, and blue; a pair of dress moccasins; a hand-carved box of sumac leaves and dried tobacco for smoking. It was here, in this room, that Keech and Sam had first learned how to make Osage parfleches from rawhide and how to speak the names of all the sacred animals of the forest."

Pa tells Keech some history of the gang. It used to be called Enforcers, led by "Reverand Rose." He directed gang members to do bad things. Pa was in that gang and did bad things, but quit. Those who stayed loyal to the leader changed the name to Gita-Skog. The gang killed Keech and Sam's parents.

Pa wants Keech and Sam to take a message to the telegram office in Big Timber, to be sent to someone named Embry.  Pa gives them sandwiches, that they put into Sam's bag, which already has his bible in it.

Chapter Five: The Code Breakers

Keech and Sam figure out the message, which is drawn from numbered passages in the Bible:
"Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of the hosts." 
"For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night."
"Destruction cometh; and they shall seek peace, and there shall be none."

Chapter Six: The Peg-Leg Bandit

When they get near the town they see a sign:

They head to the telegram office but there's someone there, with a peg leg, who has destroyed the telegram machine. He is holding someone hostage, and the boys help end that situation. They also learn that someone has been destroying telegram machines everywhere. The man with a peg leg is shot, and they figure out that his name is Tommy Claymore and that he had already been killed a month before. There's been talk of this gang that can do unnatural things.

As the boys return home, Keech sings "Ol' Lonesome Joe" to Sam.

Chapter Seven: The Whispering Crow

When the boys get home, they see that Whiskey and his gang are already there. They tie their horses to a tree where Keech had carved the head and face of a wolf (his favorite animal) into the bark and sneak closer to the house. Pa comes out of the house. A large crow lands on Whiskey's shoulder and seems to whisper to him. Whiskey tells Pa that the Reverend said he can't leave (Missouri) without the Char Stone and "all the sacred objects" and that he commands the "Tsi'noo" now. The Reverend also wants to know where the rest of the Enforcers are hiding. Pa ducks back into the house, the crow flies to and scratches the door, which Whiskey interprets as the signal for violence. He whistles.

Chapter Eight: The Siege

The whistle is a summons for "the thralls" to attack the house. They break down the door, and the boys watch Pa shoot one of them (named Cooper), but, he gets back up. Whiskey says "you know lead can't stop the Tsi'noo". When the man steps towards Pa again, they see him touch Cooper with the pendant, which turns Cooper into a lifeless corpse. But, Pa gets shot and they take the pendant from him. Keech decides to help.

Chapter Nine: Smoke and Ash

Keech is no match for Whiskey, the house is on fire, Pa won't tell Whiskey anything. Then, Whiskey points a gun at his head and Pa says he doesn't know where the Stone is, that "After the shoot-out at the Blackwood place, I had it hidden! It's lost, even from me." Keech flinches at hearing his last name and doesn't recall Pa ever talking about a shoot out. Pa says he thinks it is in a graveyard somewhere west, but doesn't recall where.

A fight breaks out, Keech grabs the pendant and runs and looks back. Whiskey says "So long, Enforcer" and shoots Pa. He keeps running but hears Whiskey tell the others to "Get the shard." Keech puts it on as he runs and feels its "otherwordly chill" on his chest. He's able to hide from Whiskey's men. When he gets home, the house is a smoldering pile. Keech thinks his brother, Granny, and the others must have died in the fire. His plan is to find their remains and bury them, and then "because he was the Wolf, he would hunt." I wonder if the Osage consultant said ok to the authors giving the characters names like that.


Interlude: Whiskey on the Trail 

This interlude opens with Whiskey looking at a crow. Text reads:
The P'mola, the Reverend Rose called them. A name derived from the Abenaki tribes who had once welcomed him into their villages--till the Reverend's lust for power betrayed their trust. The P'mola were his emissaries, the darkest of all creatures. Long ago, when the Reverend had awakened in the Palace of the Thunders, they were the first things he had created.
You lost the amulet shard the crow said now. The words were not spoken aloud, but came to Whiskey as a terrible rasp--the Reverend's rasp--deep inside his head.  

Whiskey and his men are headed towards Whistler (a village) which is the location of the nearest graveyard. They're going on an "all but forgotten Indian buffalo trail." The P'mola (crow) tells him that he let a boy defeat him.

The boy, the P'mola says, was raised by Isaiah Raines (AKA Pa Abner) and that he taught him "the ways of the Enforcer." Whiskey tries to say he's just a boy, but the P'mola says "You fool. The boy is Blackwood's won." Whiskey is taken aback and realizes that Keech is "the son of Screamin' Bill Blackwood." Whiskey says he needs more thralls, but the P'mola says "I gave you the Prime. I taught you the Black Verse. And you failed me." The P'mola says he's going to take the Prime from him, and Whiskey feels "the invisible essence that kept him whole, the force known only as the Prime, the darkest of all chaos magics" drain from him. He turns, blames one of the thralls for having let Keech escape, and because he has enough power left to remove the life force from one of the thralls, he does so.

Chapter Ten: Ambush at Copperhead Rock

This chapter opens with a flashback to three years before. Keech remembers another lesson from Pa. He remembering being uneasy because he's not fully embraced "the warrior's way" that makes you fearless in combat, as well as Sam had. These training sessions start with Pa speaking this phrase "Now, my young warriors, let's begin."

Awake, he starts digging in the smoldering remains of the house but realizes it is too hot and that he's got to find Whiskey and take vengeance on him, for his family. We learn that Sam is not his biological brother. He had been dropped off at the Home, later.

Keech gets jumped by three boys who are also seeking vengeance. Turns out, Keech and one of the boys both want to kill Whiskey (who the other boy calls El Ojo).

Chapter Eleven: I am the Wolf

The town sheriff comes upon the boys. They've got Claymore (one of Whiskey's men) in shackles. The boys want to go with the Sheriff to track Whiskey, but the sheriff's group thinks the boys are not up to the task. Keech remembers the pendant and its powers and tells the sheriff that to catch a deadly snake (Whiskey) they'll need a predator who is not afraid of the snake's poison. Keech says "I am the Wolf. And with or without you, I'm gonna find this murderer, and lead him straight to the end of a rope." He doesn't tell them about the pendant.

Chapter Twelve: A Revelation at Swift Hollow

The sheriff and boys ride on together to Whistler, to find Whiskey. Keech wonders if he should tell them that Claymore isn't alive, that's he's a zombie (they don't use that word). The revelation is that the boys father was Noah Embry (Bennett Coal), who had been in the Embracer gang with Pa Abner.

Chapter Thirteen: The Escape

Claymore escapes. They set off to find him; Keech gets the pendant, puts it on and sets off on a different route than the others. Suddenly he feels an unnatural cold and realizes it is the pendant, which is also now glowing. Claymore is near, fails in his attempt to attack Keech, and says that "the Master" wants what Keech has. Cutter (one of the boys) comes upon Keech and Claymore and knocks him down.

Chapter Fourteen: The Interrogation

Cutter (Herrera) notices bullet holes in Claymore and asks why a man can still breathe, with holes in his heart. Keech tells him that Claymore is not a man, and that Whiskey had called him something like a "See-New" and that Keech thinks he is a thrall, which is a dead man raised from the grave, and commanded by Whiskey.

Keech dangles the pendant in Claymore's face. He learns that Whiskey has left Whistler and that the Char Stone is "life". Claymore's expression changes and Keech sees that Whiskey has taken over his body. He calls Keech a pilgrim again (he did that when he first came upon Keech and Sam in chapter one).

Whiskey tells Keech that Nat and Duck's dad, Embry, betrayed Pa Abner, telling the Gita-Skog where to find him. Keech is furious and tells Whiskey he'll regret the day he met Keech. Whiskey replies:
"Strong lip for a pup! I am the Gita-Skog, boy, the Big Snake that consumes all. I regret nothing."

Whiskey says they are all going to die, and then, tendrils of dark smoke come from Claymore's nose, which means that the force that had made his body move, is gone. The sheriff finds them and they all head on, to Bone Ridge, or, the Withers graveyard.

Chapter Fifteen: What Happened at Whistler

They cross a river that Keech says "the settlers" named Little Wild Boy. When they get to Whistler, the buildings are all on fire. In the middle of the street is a gazebo where townspeople are huddled. One calls out, speaking German, and they run away, thinking the sheriff/posse are more of Whiskey's gang.

Keech decides it is time to tell them all he knows about the stone and that Claymore had called it "life." They go to the church graveyard where they figure Whiskey had probably dug into the graves to find the stone. Some graves are empty; Whiskey has raised some of the dead there, to replace Claymore and others he'd lost. They learn the nearby forest is called Floodwood and that the townspeople think it is cursed. They hear a monster there sometimes and nobody who goes in, ever comes out. Duck says something that pins blame for all of this on Keech's dad; Keech shoves Duck and then Keech and Nat get into a fight. Turns out that Duck is a girl.

Whiskey's gang appears and attacks them.  Keech heads into Floodwood, trying to escape. Two thralls (Scurvy and Bull) are chasing him but reluctant to go into Floodwood.

Chapter Sixteen: Floodwood

In Floodwood, Keech hears an erie droning, constant. He falls asleep, wakes, and sees numbers painted on a stone. 40 7:7. He realizes why the place seems familiar; in his study, Pa had a painting of the red outcropping of the Floodwood. He realizes the numbers are from the bible. Then, Scurvy and Bull attack Keech. He knocks Scurvy (the smaller one) down, lets the pendant touch him, which returns him to the dead. Bull (the larger one) bears down, and Keech thinks it is time for him to be the Wolf.

Chapter Seventeen: A Bread-Crumb Trail

Keech figures out that the Floodwood gets people lost, walking in circles. He has the pouch Pa had given him, with pennies to pay to send the telegram. he uses the pennies to make a path. He lures Bull to a quicksand, knocks him into it. He realizes that the pendant is a beacon, letting the thralls find him.

Chapter Eighteen: The Red Mountain 

Keech makes a shelter, rests, and winds begin to sound like something Pa taught him. "Zh-sape," the wind said. It is an Osage word. "A tha no ko. Listen. Shto be. See." As he gazes at the night sky, he thinks
"Perhaps it was there, among those brilliant lights, that the souls of fallen braves encountered their next home, the hunting land where they found their spirits reunited with the lost warriors of old. The idea reminded Keech of his brothers."
The stars seem to form images, into a story. He thinks he sees Pa Abner in those stars, lifting a bear cub from
"... the dark of a lonely den. Other sparkling characters gathered around Pa, and they whispered to the tiny cub. Before Keech's eyes, the cub began to grow. It became the shape of a giant bear, a monstrous form, something that should not be."
The group whispers "Wasape" -- Keech closes his eyes and opens them and its gone. He tries to sleep, then gets up and starts out again. He comes upon three thralls and hears Cutter and Duck's voices. The thralls hear them too; the boys take off together, chased by the thralls.

Keech decides to show Nat and Duck the pendant. Turns out Duck and Nat have one, too. They hold them together and figure that they are two shards, and that other shards would form a circle. They make their way back to the stone with the bible verse on it. Duck knows what it is:
Ask, and it shall be given to you. Seek, and ye shall find. Knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

Chapter Nineteen: The Climb

They climb the red mountain looking for a door; Whiskey's men catch up; Keech figures out Whiskey is also one of the dead, raised back to life, and that he's not doing well.

Chapter Twenty: The Doorway

The boys cause rocks to come loose on Whiskey's men. Duck tells them she's found the doorway. It looks like a rotten log but is really a woodworked door. Keech has the key (pendant). It opens into a cave.

Chapter Twenty-one: Cutters's Decision

Cutter doesn't want to go in; he'd rather go back and make sure Whiskey is dead. They go into the dark cave. After awhile, Keech's pendant starts to glow. Duck gets her out. It glows too. She remember that they do that when Whiskey's magic is nearby. Then suddenly, they hear his voice. He and his gang are coming in, with torches. Cutter insists on going back to fight Whiskey and give the rest of them a chance to get away. They've all been aware of the smell of rot.

Chapter Twenty-Two: Wasape

They find a body:
A bundle of cloth lay around the corpse's legs--a pair of deerskin trouser sleeves and a buffalo-hair breechcloth covered in thick, dried blood. Beside the body lay a slender longbow. Slung over the corpse's shoulder was a quiver made from raccoon pelts. Tucked inside was a single dogwood arrow, its feathers white and brown.
Keech studied the longbow and says the body was an Osage warrior, that the bow was made from the wood of a hedge apple tree, and that the breechcloth has Osage designs on it. That the "fella" had gotten lost in Floodwood and ended up in the case.

Duck notes that the bony index finger is gesturing at the cave wall, to a picture painted in dried blood. Keech is filled with cold dread because it is Wasape. He tells them it was a bear that killed the man, and that it would have to be a mammoth one to take down "a skilled brave with a full quiver." They wonder where the bear is. They hear a gigantic road. Keech crouches at the skeleton's feet, says "If we ever meet on the spirit path, I'll be sure to give you proper thanks" and grabs the longbow and quiver, then joins the group as they try to find their way out of the cave. They come to a pillar with another bible number passage. Keech remembers it was one of Sam's favorites: "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."

They think it means to jump into the river in the cave but before they do, Whiskey and his gang catch up to them. Keech thinks they have one chance, if he's able to distract them with the Osage warrior's arrow. He shoots it at Whiskey's chest but it does nothing. Keech threatens to drop the pendant in the river. Then, a road. It is the bear. It is double the e\size of a Missouri black bear, but its pelt is gray and ragged and has skinny brown sticks protruding everywhere. It is the Osage warrior's arrows:
The Wasape, Keech thought, remembering his dream in the evergreen ring. The Wasape contains the Floodwood curse! That's what Pa was doing in the vision. He and the Osage were putting a blight upon the bear and tying the creature to this area.
The bear rampages in the cave, making it unstable. A falling piece of the ceiling knocks the pendant out of Keech's hand. He tries to find it, but they decide to leave by jumping into the river.


Interlude: Whiskey in the Dark

Whiskey remembers a song from before the Gita-Skog, before the Reverend Rose. Around him, the other thrall are dead. "The orphan boy--the son of Screamin' Bill--had crushed the last of the Tsi'noo under rubble." The Prime (dark energy) that the Reverend had given him is almost gone. The bear is trapped under the fallen ceiling. Whiskey sees the pendant nearby, hears flapping wings and knows that one of the Reverend's P'mola has found him. It whispers the Reverend's words, that he is useless and that Ignatio and Big Ben will finish the hunt, but then, he gives Whiskey one more chance to get the Stone, by midnight. He feels the Prime flowing back into his limbs. The Reverend tells him to finish off the bear, that doing so will end the magic that holds him there in Floodwood. Whiskey uses the pendant to kill the bear, leaves the cave, and then uses his powers to bring Pa Abner back to life.

Chapter Twenty-Three: Exite

The kids swim out of the river, and notice the buzzing and confusion of the woods are gone. They head for the Withers (the Sullied Place).

Chapter Twenty-Four: The Reunion

Hundreds of graves... all marked with the same year of death: 1832. He stumbles on Abraham Nell, Granny's husband. On the stone is "WATCH THERE FORE FOR YE KNOW NOT WHAT HOUR YOUR LORD DOTH COME which is the 4th set of numbers from Pa's telegram. He figures out the numbers are coordinates.

Pa appears, as a thrall. Whiskey mutters a chant and other thralls rise. He says "Tsi'noo, rise, and git to work!"

Chapter Twenty-Five: The Tsi'noo

Pa tells Keech to run to Duck, who is on Whiskey's horse and still has her pendant.

Chapter Twenty-Six: Treasure Hunt

The Tsi'noo start digging to find the stone. Whiskey has till midnight to find it. As they dig, Keech figures out where the stone is. Whiskey realizes Keech knows and instructs Pa to beat him till he says where it is, but Keech doesn't give it up. Whiskey tells him that his own father was Screamin' Bill Blackwood, terror of the West. When they had found the stone, Keech's dad led a revolt against the Reverend. Screaming Bill killed Whiskey, shooting him "straight in the eye with an arrow."

They dig up the grave, and Keech can see...
...the traces of a breechcloth and buckskin tunic, secured around the old bones with frayed cords. Upon the Enforcer's chest lay a lone tomahawk, the cracked wooden handle studded with brass and animal teeth, the iron blade degraded to black rust.
There is no stone in that grave, so they dig up Keech's mother's grave.

Chapter Twenty-Seven: Destruction Cometh

In her hands is a doll. Whiskey holds it and just then, the Reverend takes over his body.

Chapter Twenty-Eight: Cut from the Reins

Pa Abner has a bit of life left and tells Keech that he took an Osage "Oath of Memory" that cleansed his mind of knowledge of where the stone is hidden. The Osage have a secret place that they call "Bonfire Crossing".

Pa Abner tells Keech that his father was a "fierce fighter. Terror of the West" and a "half" Osage man named "Zh-Sape" -- which means "Black Wood". He was named that because "no enemy could find him" when he was hunting in the forest. Blackwood is Keech's name now, to "preserve his honor. [Debbie's comments: Why was he called Terror of the West? Who did he, um, terrorize, and why?!]

Just before he finally dies, Pa Abner tells Keech to go to the Bonfire Crossing, and that "the People of the Middle Waters await." The last thing he tells him is "You are the Wolf." [Debbie's comments: Did the authors read The Osages: Children of the Middle Waters by John Joseph Mathews? If Keech is supposed to find "the People of the Middle Waters" -- does that mean he's going to find other Osage people? But why, I wonder, did Brad McLelland and Louis Sylvester change "Children" to "People"?] 

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Some Questions for Book Clubs that Select Books Like NEWS OF THE WORLD by Paulette Jiles

Sometimes, readers of AICL write to me to ask about a book that has been chosen for their book club.

The books they ask about are usually best sellers or award-winning books in the adult market that have Native content. They wonder if it is accurate and one way or another, end up on American Indians in Children's Literature, hoping that maybe I've reviewed it.

A recent case in point is News of the World by Paulette Jiles. Mostly, I ignore those queries. Once in a while, I take them up, as was the case a few years ago, with Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks.

Obviously, books like News of the World have a compelling story, or they wouldn't be selected for awards (it was a finalist for the National Book Award).

One question is: compelling for what reader(s)? 

I haven't read the book, but please hold off on throwing that attack my way. I don't want to read it. The point of this post is to ask book club members to think about what they choose, and why such choices appeal to them.

Based on the description of the book, this story is about a White girl (Johanna) and a White man (Kidd). Set in 1870, the White girl is ten years old. When she was six, she was taken captive by Kiowas who killed her family. Kidd is going to help her get back to her aunt and uncle. Living with the Kiowas for four years, however, she's forgotten English, and she's learned some other things... like how to scalp.

Several reviews mention that part of the book, but they don't question it.

Let's think about that part, because from what I've read online (in professional and readers' reviews), no reader said STOP to that part of the story. The reason? My guess is that nobody noticed, because most people have been socialized to think that Native peoples were brutal and blood thirsty. So much so, in fact, that they taught little girls how to scalp their enemies. Instead of saying NO to that part, most readers blow past that part of the book. 

Is News of the World compelling to you because it affirms your pre-existing stereotypical ideas of Kiowa or Native people in the second half of the 1800s?

Another question is: what does a book like this do for you, after you've read it? 

Some of you are teachers. Are you developing lesson plans and selecting children's books for your classrooms, that have stereotypical ideas of Native people in them? Are you a librarian who purchases books for the library? Are you a book reviewer? An editor? A writer?

Books like News of the World shape what you do. How is it going to shape what you do, in your work?

And another question: who is helped by content like that? 

In asking that question, I'm pushing pretty hard at asking you to think about the work books with that sort of content do. Citizens of the United States like to think of this country as exceptional, as better than any other country... you know--"we the people"--and all that sort of thing.

To maintain that idea, the country and its institutions have to keep telling lies about Indigenous peoples and the history of our interactions with Europeans. We weren't primitive. We weren't blood thirsty. We didn't teach little kids how to scalp. What are you doing, unintentionally perhaps, that upholds that false idea? And what does it cost all of us when you do that? Who benefits from that lie?

My final question: what will you do, now? 

If you've read this far, then I hope you're wondering what to do to interrupt this cycle of lies.

What I'm asking is that you step away from what you think you know. I'm asking you to dislodge or decenter the "knowledge" you've received. For historical information, you can start by reading An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. If you listen to audio books, you can get the audiobook version of it.

You can also start by listening to the Media Indigena podcast. There, you'll hear Native scholars, journalists, writers, artists, etc., talking about issues specific to Indigenous communities (many of us, by the way, use both, Native and Indigenous, in our writings--except when we are talking about a specific nation). You could also listen to Native America Calling, a daily call-in radio show. You could read Native newspapers, like Indian Country Today

The overall point of this post? 
Do better. 
Make better choices for your book clubs. 

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Indigenous #KidLitWomen

My contribution to the month-long #KidLitWomen campaign is to lift Indigenous women who have written books for children and teens.

If we were sitting in a classroom or a lecture hall, I'd ask you to name a picture book about a Native woman or girl. Chances are most of you would name a book by Paul Goble or Scott O'Dell. I drew a line through their names to tell you... NO! Not books by those guys! Inside, I'd be cringing to hear you give me those answers. And I'd explain that books by those men have many many many many (how many times shall I write that word?!) problems.

My solution-oriented challenge for you, for the #KidLitWomen campaign is this: Next time you're at the bookstore, reach for books written by Indigenous women! And ask for them at the library! And if your children bring that Goble or that O'Dell book home, arrange a meeting with the teacher to talk about books by Indigenous Women!

I made an Indigenous #KidLitWomen pdf for you that has book titles on it, plus some gorgeous covers! Right after the book title is the name of the Native woman. In parenthesis is that woman's nation, followed by the publisher and year the book was published. Here's what it looks like (and beneath the image of it, you'll see the book list), but hit that pdf link and print it out as many times as you want! Take it with you to the book store, to the library... to your next book club meeting!

Board Books
Wild Berries by Julie Flett (Cree-Métis), Simply Read Books, 2013.
Boozhoo: Come Play With Us by Deanna Himango (Ojibwe), Fond du Lac Band of
      Lake Superior, Chippewa, 2002.
My Heart Fills With Happiness by Monique Gray Smith (Cree, Lakota and Scottish),
      Orca, 2016.

Picture Books
Shi-shi-etko by Nicola I. Campbell (Nle7kepmx, Nsilx and Métis), Groundwood
      Books, 2005.
The Good Luck Cat by Joy Harjo (Mvskoke), Harcourt Brace, 2000.
Sweetest Kulu by Celina Kalluk (Inuit), Inhabit Media, Incorporated, 2014.
Powwow Summer: A Family Celebrates the Circle of Life by Marcie Rendon (White
      Earth Anishinaabe), Minnesota Historical Society, 2013.
Girls Dance, Boys Fiddle by Carole Lindstrom (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa
      Indians), Pemmican, 2013.
Hungry Johnny by Cheryl Minnema (Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe), Minnesota
      Historical Society Press, 2014.
The Water Walker by Joanne Robertson (Ojibwe), Orca, 2017.
Jingle Dancer by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Muscogee Creek), Morrow, 2000.

Middle Grades
I Am Not A Number by Jenny Kay Dupuis (Nipissing), Second Story, 2016.
The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich (Turtle Mountain Chippewa), Hyperion,
Indian Shoes by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Muscogee (Creek), HarperCollins, 2002.
Super Indian, Vol. One and Vol. Two, by Arigon Starr (Kickapoo), Wacky
     Productions, 2012.

High School
#NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women edited By Lisa Charleyboy and
        Mary Beth Leatherdale, Annick Press, 2017.
The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline (Georgian Bay Métis), Dancing Cat, 2017.
Murder on the Red River by Marcie Rendon, (White Earth Anishinaabe), Cinco
     Puntos, 2017.
The Round House by Louise Erdrich, (Turtle Mountain Chippewa). Harper, 2012.
Crazy Horse’s Girlfriend by Erika Wurth (Apache/Chickasaw/Cherokee), Curbside
     Splendor, 2014.

Coming in 2018 and 2019…
The Summer of Split Feather Fever by Christine Day (Upper Skagit), HarperCollins.
Apple In the Middle by Dawn Quigley (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa), North
     Dakota State University Press.
Race to the Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse (Ohkay Owingeh/African American). Disney
Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse (Ohkay Owingeh/African American),
     Simon & Schuster.
We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci L. Sorell (Cherokee), Charlesbridge.
Hearts Unbroken by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Muscogee Creek), Candlewick.

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Some thoughts on a big word: MYTH

This post is one that is in-process. A colleague asked me for some resources on the word myth. She's going to be doing a workshop with teachers. At the 4th grade level, teachers are required to do a unit on "Native American Myths." These are some of my initial thoughts on that word and how I approach thinking about it. You're on this exploration, with me, as I do the work. Come back for more. There will be more!


What does it mean? What does it mean to you? What does it mean in literature? What stories do we call myth? Is the word used to describe similar stories of all peoples? How do we start to answer these stories?

To start thinking about these questions, some people will go right to a dictionary. Let's do that now.

According to the English Oxford Living Dictionary, the origin of the word myth is "Mid 19th century: from modern Latin mythus, via late Latin and Greek muthos.

1. A traditional story, especially one concerning the early history of a people or explaining a natural or social phenomenon, and typically involving supernatural beings or events, like "ancient Celtic myths" or "the heroes of Greek myth".

Synonyms are "folk tale, story, folk story, legend, tale, fable, saga, allegory, parable, tradition, lore, folklore".

2. A widely held but false belief or idea, like "the belief that evening primrose oil helps to cure eczema is a myth, according to dermatologists".
2.1. A misrepresentation of the truth, like "attacking the party's irresponsible myths about privatization"
2.2. A fictitious or imagery person or thing. like "nobody has ever heard of Simon's mysterious friend--Anna said he was a myth".
2.3. An exaggerated or idealized conception of a person or thing, like "the book is a scholarly study of the Churchill myth". 
Looking over that information, we see "Celtic myths" and "Greek myth" and a set of synonyms. The Celts, according to the Oxford dictionary, were
... a member of a group of peoples inhabiting much of Europe and Asia Minor in pre-Roman times. Their culture developed in the late Bronze Age around the upper Danube, and reached its height in the La Tene culture (5th to 1st centuries BC) before being overrun by the Romans and various Germanic peoples.
A native of any of the modern nations or regions in which Celtic languages are (or were until recently) spoken; a person of Irish, Highland Scottish, Manx, Welsh, or Cornish descent. 
Greek, according to the Oxford dictionary, is:
A native or inhabitant of modern Greece, or a person of Greek descent. 
A Greek-speaking person in the ancient world, especially a native of one of the city states of Greece and the eastern Mediterranean. 
Thinking critically about who is named in these pages of the Oxford dictionary, and who is not, is important. We learn that the Celts had myths, and so do the Greeks. Of course, the dictionary can't be comprehensive. It can't name all the peoples who had or have myths.

Let's dive into cataloging and see how stories are categorized at WorldCat (which is "the world's largest network of library content and services).

In the Advanced Search option, I entered myth in the Keyword box, and limited the search to 2010-2018, Juvenile, Any Content (includes fiction, nonfiction, etc), Books (excludes videos, etc), and English. My search resulted in 3,191 books. The first page (shown in sets of ten) include the following titles:

  • Thea Stilton and the Missing Myth
  • Monsters: Myth or Fact
  • Dragons: Magic, Myth, and Mystery
  • How to Tell A Myth
  • Vampires: Magic, Myth, and Mystery
  • The Story of Ursa Major and Ursa Minor: A Roman Constellation Myth
  • Exploring the Life, Myth, and Art of Native Americans
  • Bigfoot: Magic, Myth, and Mystery
  • The Warrior Twins: A Navajo Hero Myth
  • Exploring the Life, Myth, and Art of Ancient Egypt
What did you notice as you read through the titles? Monsters, dragons, vampires... And, obviously, I noticed the two books about Indigenous peoples.

Here's the Big Question for all of us. The question has to do with who defines what counts as a myth, and what doesn't. What, in other words, is held sacred or considered to be a religious story, shelved and cataloged as such?

What is missing from those first ten titles is any books about Christianity.

If I take a look at the second ten books, will I find books from the bible, there, in that set? Take a look in your catalog. Repeat the search I did, in whatever database you use. What do you find? I'm happy to read your comments, if you want to share them.

Like I said, this is a post-in-progress. I'm hitting the pause button (I have other work to do) and uploading this post. I hope it doesn't have typos (but it probably will) or structural problems (but it will have them, too!). It is a draft. I'll be adding material from children's literature textbooks, and, material from Native scholars, too. A work in progress, that is paused at 8:45 AM Central Time on March 3, 2018.

Back, on Sunday March 4, 2018 at 10:15 AM or thereabouts...

I've got a copy of the 7th edition of Children's Literature in the Elementary School, published by McGraw Hill. It was revised by Barbara Z. Kiefer. The authors are Charlotte S. Huck, Susan Helpler, Janet Hickman, and Kiefer. Chapter six is about Traditional Literature. Here's the table of contents for that chapter:

  • A Perspective on Traditional Literature
  • Folktales
  • Fables
  • Myths
  • Epic & Legendary Heroes
  • The Bible as Literature

The Folktales section has "Native American Folktales." I assume you noticed that the Bible got its own section? It could have been put over in the Myths section, specifically in the subjection called "Creation Myths." But--it isn't. In the "Bible as Literature" section, the authors of the textbook write that:
We must clarify the difference between the practice of religious customs and indoctrination in one viewpoint and the study of the Bible as a great work of literature.
See the word "great" there, to characterize it? Do you think their use of "great" reflects bias? Re-read the sentence again, leaving out the word great. How does it feel to do that?

Now--let's look at some of the books (single stories, not collections) discussed in that section. Using WorldCat again, I looked up the first one discussed, Light, by Sarah Waldman. Its subject headings are:

  • Creation -- Biblical teaching -- Juvenile literature
  • Children's stories, American
  • Creation
  • Bible stories -- Testament
  • Children's writings
  • Creation -- Biblical teaching

The second one is Genesis by Ed Young. Its subject headings are:

  • Bible -- Genesis
  • Creation

The third one is The Seven Days of Creation by Leonard Everett Fisher. The subject headings are:

  • Creation -- Juvenile literature
  • Creation
  • Bible stories -- O.T.

None of the subject headings for those three books are folklore.

Now--let's flip back to the Folktales section of this textbook and look up the books listed there, in the Native American section. The first one is Paul Goble's The Gift of the Sacred Dog. It is imperative that I say right away that I (and others, too) have concerns with outsiders like Goble, telling/retelling/appropriating Native stories. They get a lot of things wrong. But let's look at the subject headings:
  • Indians of North America -- Great Plains -- Folklore
  • Children's literature
  • Horses -- Folklore
  • Indians of North America
  • Great Plains
See? Folklore. (I haven't analyzed Goble's book yet. I might very well find out that it is so inaccurate that--if anything--it ought to be categorized as White Man's Indian, or, fiction, or, fantasy... )

Well---I'm hitting the pause button for now (at 2:05 Central Time on March 4th, 2018). Gonna go outside and do some yard work. I'll be back!

And I'm back, at 3:12. I did enough yard work for the day... this project called me back inside! 

I've talked about this difference in cataloging in talks I've given in person and online, too. Because there's a cloud on Goble's work, I thought it'd be good to give you an example of a book written by Native people. The one I use to illustrate this bias against Native stories is Beaver Steals Fire: A Salish Coyote Story. Written by the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation in Montana, and illustrated by Sam Sandoval, it includes a note on one of the first pages, that says "In Beaver Steals Fire, fire is a gift from the Creator brought by the animal beings for human beings who are yet to come. Fire remains an important gift in our traditional ways of knowing and understanding." Lot of words there, all of which tell us that this is a sacred creation story. But, here are its subject headings in WorldCat:

  • Coyote (Legendary character) -- Legends
  • Kootenai Indians -- Folklore
  • Salish Indians -- Folklore
  • Coyote (Legendary character)
  • Kootenai Indians
  • Salish Indians 

See? Folklore again! (Insert angry emoticon face, and, hitting the pause button at 3:28.)


Notes from items written by Indigenous writers/scholars:

Younging, Gregory. (2018) Elements of Indigenous Style: A Guide for Writing By and About Indigenous Peoples. Brush Education (in Canada). Take a look at this entry in chapter 6, which is about terminology:
These terms are often applied to Oral Traditions. This is offensive to Indigenous Peoples because the terms imply that Oral Traditions are insignificant, not based in reality, or not relevant. The term legends can also be constructed this way, although legends acceptable to Indigenous Peoples in the sense that Oral Traditions describe past events that are legendary. To avoid misunderstanding, it's best to use terms such as Oral Traditions or Traditional Stories. 

Silva, Noenoe K. (year) "Hawaiian Literature in Hawaiian" in The Oxford Handbook of Indigenous American Literature, Oxford University Press, page 115:
Loss of our mother tongue accompanied the loss of nationhood. From 1896 on, all schooling in Hawaiʻi was conducted in English. All the generations that followed were much more knowledgeable about English language and literature than Hawaiian. Only those privileged enough to be educated in the language and literature, either at home with a elder or at the university, were familiar with our stories and poetry. Anthropologists, folklorists, and children’s book authors recast this literature as myth, legend, folklore, and children’s stories.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

An Open Letter About Sherman Alexie

Eds. Note: Beneath the letter are links with more info and quotes I am adding, with permission, from Joy Harjo, Janet McAdams, and Susan Power. I will add additional ones as they become public. If you are looking for other Native writers, see the Best Books link.  

February 25, 2018

Dear Readers of American Indians in Children's Literature,

Yesterday, I removed Sherman Alexie's photograph from AICL's gallery of Native writers and illustrators. Since then, I have begun going through the eleven years of AICL posts, making edits to any page that has referenced Alexie or his work.

Based on private conversations I have had, I can no longer let his work sit on AICL without noting that he has hurt other Native writers in overt and subtle ways, including abuse, threats, and humiliation.

I've been studying and writing about children's and young adult books about Native people since the 1990s. There's been so little growth in all those years. Learning of his actions tells me that rather than helping grow the numbers of Native writers who get published, he's undermined that growth.

He's also undermined Native writers and writing in this way: his books feed mainstream expectations.

Alexie's books don't give readers the depth of understanding that they need to know who we are, what our histories have been, what we face on a daily basis, and what gives us the strength to carry on. Far too many people adore him and think that they're hip to Native life because they read his books. If you're one of those people, please set his books aside. Read other Native writers. Don't inadvertently join him in hurting other Native writers.

I understand that several news outlets, including NPR and the New York Times, are working on news articles about him, but that the people who are speaking to the reporters are afraid. I don't know what these news articles will say, when they get published. When I see them, I will link to them, below this letter.

In the first few years of AICL, I promoted Alexie's work, but that tapered off as I saw how little he did to help other Native writers.

To all of you who he has hurt, I apologize. I have no doubt that every time you saw his name mentioned here, it added to the weight you already carry. I'm sorry.

Debbie Reese
Editor, American Indians in Children's Literature

Update at 4:36 on 2/25/18: I will not publish comments that defend Alexie or that attempt to cast doubt on those he has hurt.



In this timeline, articles specific to, or that reference, Alexie are in bold font. Others are provided for context in children's literature, and in Indigenous networks. If you see additional items I can add, please let me know in a comment (comments are open to those suggestions). This is a selectively curated list. The items listed are here because they each have something new or unique to offer.

October 10, 2017--Adrienne Keene published The Native Harvey Weinsteins at her blog, Native Appropriations. 

January 3, 2018--Drew Himmelstein at School Library Journal published Children's Publishing Reckons with Sexual Harassment in Its Ranks. Several people submitted comments about Alexie.

February 7, 2018--Anne Ursu published the outcome of her survey: Sexual Harassment in the Children's Book Industry at Medium.

February 12, 2018--Karen Jensen published Sexual harassment in Kidlit at her blog, "Teen Librarian Toolbox" at School Library Journal. See, especially, point #5, "Survivors don't owe you their stories."

February 13, 2018--John Maher published Sexual Harassment In Children's Publishing Reaches a Crisis Point at Publisher's Weekly. 

February 19, 2018--Drew Himmelstein published Unpacking Anne Ursu's Survey and the Fallout, with Changes Coming to Events, at School Library Journal. Comments refer to Alexie. 

February 21, 2018--David M. Perry at Pacific Standard published How Will Publishing Deal with Lemony Snicket Amid #MeToo? It is the first (to my knowledge) news outlet to name Alexie within the body of the article (he cited the comments at SLJ). 

February 21, 2018--I started a Twitter thread linking to both articles, and soon after that, added links to twitter threads from others who were writing about Alexie. It links to a writer and reporter named Litsa Dremousis, who was Alexie's friend for years before finding out he had sexually harassed women. See this thread for a recap she did Sunday morning, Feb 25th, where she says that eleven different news outlets are reaching out to her. She's helping people get in touch with the media. I will continue to add to my thread (which includes her earlier threads on Alexie). 
[Update on March 3, 2018: On Feb 28, Alexie issued a statement that disclosed a consensual sexual relationship between Alexie and Dremousis. She confirmed what he said and stated that her public tweeting about him is not retaliation over the affair. Reactions to that news range, widely.]

February 26, 2018--With her permission, I am sharing a Facebook comment (posted on Feb 25) from author and poet, Janet McAdams, that speaks to the mainstream's embrace of Alexie:
A number of years ago I submitted an article on the very fine, complex, and --to my mind--important writing of a Native poet to PMLA. One reviewer, in rejecting it, wanted to know why I was writing on this poet, whom he'd never heard of. Why not James Welsh (his spelling) or Sherman Alexie?  
No writing community should ever be / have been reduced to or defined by any one author. As a scholar and editor of Native writing, I've often felt frustrated by the ways Alexie's (very uneven) writing eclipsed other writing. Horrifying to find out that all that power, his anointment as The Native American Writer, also made way for other, much more material kinds of violence.
February 26, 2018--With her permission, I am sharing a Facebook comment (posted on Feb 25) from author, poet, and musician, Joy Harjo:
This has been going on for years. And have had women calling or writing me about abuse of different kinds for years.
February 26, 2018--With her permission, I am sharing a Facebook comment (posted on Feb 25) from author, Susan Power
This isn't a surprise since I've heard stories from friends who experienced abusive treatment firsthand, friends I trust without question.
February 26, 2018--The Institute of American Indian Arts issued a statement on their Facebook page (posted on Feb 26 at 4:06 PM). This is a change from their press release on January 20:
We have received several recent inquiries about Sherman Alexie’s relationship with the IAIA MFA program. For the record, Mr. Alexie served IAIA as an independent contractor intermittently between July 2013 and July 2017. His association with IAIA officially ended on October 27, 2017. 
Given he is no longer involved with IAIA, the Sherman Alexie Scholarship, funded by a third-party foundation, has been renamed the MFA Alumni Scholarship. The award and the terms of that award remain the same.

February 27, 2018--Sarah Graham published Revered Writer Sherman Alexie faces misconduct accusations at the Santa Fe New Mexican (posted on Feb 26). Here's an excerpt:
Jon Davis, director of IAIA’s Master of Fine Arts program, said officials “expedited” a name change to a scholarship that was in Alexie’s name as allegations against him mounted on social media sites and public forums.

February 28, 2018--Author and scholar, Deborah Miranda, published Inmate #A-93223: In the San Quentin of my Mind (posted on Feb 27). The first half of her post is about her own father; the second half is an account of her interactions with Alexie and her support of women who are speaking about being bullied, threatened, and sexually harassed.  

February 28, 2018--Kevin Abourezk published Sherman Alexie stays silent after being accused of sexual harassment (published on Feb 28) at Indianz

February 28, 2018--Claire Kirch published Indie Booksellers Grapple with Sherman Alexie Sexual Harassment Charges at Publishers Weekly. 

February 28, 2018--John Maher published Sherman Alexie Latest in Slate of Literary Harassment Allegations at Publishers Weekly. 

February 28, 2018--Kevin Abourezk published Sherman Alexie breaks silence on allegations of sexual harassment at Indianz. 

February 28, 2018--Claire Kirch published Indie Booksellers Grapple with Sherman Alexie Sexual Harassment Charges at Publishers Weekly

March 1, 2018--Vincent Schilling published Sherman Alexie Called Out for Sexual Misconduct for over a Twenty-Year Period at Indian Country Today.

March 1, 2018--John Maher published Alexie Addresses Charges in Statement at Publishers Weekly

March 2, 2018--Mary Annette Pember published Sherman Alexie and the Longest Running #MeToo Movement in History at Rewire. 

March 2, 2018--Felicia Fonseca of the Associated Press published Readers reevaluate Sherman Alexie amid sex misconduct allegations at KOMO News.

March 2, 2018--Liz Jones, Ann Dornfeld, and Gil Aegerter published Sherman Alexie on harassment allegations: I have 'harmed other people' at KUOW. 

March 2, 2018--Lauren Porosoff published Why I'll Never Teach This Powerful Book Again at Teaching Tolerance

March 4, 2018--Colleagues are sharing articles that say--better than I did, in my Open Letter--problems with Alexie's writings. I'll be adding them as I see them. See The Laughing Indian by Lou Cornum, published in The New Inquiry on November 12, 2012. 

March 5, 2018--Lynn Neary published 'It Just Felt Very Wrong:' Sherman Alexie's Accusers Go On the Record at NPR. 

March 6, 2018--Theodore C. Van Alst, Jr. published What do the Allegations Against Sherman Alexie Mean for Native Literature? at Electric Lit

March 6, 2018--Paul Constant published Finding My Way Through the Troubling Sherman Alexie Stories at The Seattle Review of Books. 

March 6, 2018--Liz Jones published What These Women Couldn't Say Publicly about Sherman Alexie Until Now at KUOW. 

March 6, 2018--Kevin Abourezk published Sherman Alexie Caused Hurt Even Before Sexual Harassment Scandal at Indianz. 

March 9, 2018--Hillel Italie of Associated Press published Sherman Alexie declines literary award at Washington Post. 

March 11, 2018--Lynn Neary published Sherman Alexie Postpones Memoir's Paperback Release Amid Sexual Harassment Claims at NPR.

March 12, 2018--Jacqueline Keeler published Why Reading Sherman Alexie Was Never Enough at Yes Magazine.