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Miko Kings is set in Indian Territory's queen city, Ada, Oklahoma, during the baseball fever of 1907, but moves back and forth from 1969, during the Vietnam War, to present-day Ada. The story focuses on an Indian baseball team but brings a new understanding of the term "America's favorite pastime." For tribes in Indian Territory, baseball was an extension of a sport they'd been playing for centuries before their forced removal to Indian Territory.
The story centers on the lives of Hope Little Leader, a Choctaw pitcher for the Miko Kings, and Ezol Day, a postal clerk in Indian Territory who travels forward in time to tell stories to our present-day narrator. With Day’s help, the narrator pulls us into Indian boarding schools, such as the historical Hampton Normal School for Blacks and Indians in Virginia, where the novel’s legendary love story between Justina Maurepas—a character modeled after an influential Black educator—and Hope Little Leader, begins.
Though a lively and humorous work of fiction, the narrative draws heavily on LeAnne Howe’s careful historical research. She weaves original and fictive documents into the text, such as newspaper clippings, photographs, typewritten letters, and handwritten journal entries.
"LeAnne Howe's Miko Kings is an incredible act of recovery: baseball, a sport jealously guarded by mainstream Anglo culture, is also rooted in Native American history and territory...[Howe's] compelling stories and narratives...expose the political games of the 20th century that Native Americans learned to play for resistance and survival."—Rigoberto González, author (So Often the Pitcher Goes to Water Until It Breaks and Butterfly Boy)
LeAnne Howe, an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, is an author, playwright, and scholar. Born and educated in Oklahoma, she has read and lectured throughout the United States, Japan, and the Middle East. Her first novel, Shell Shaker, earned her a 2002 American Book Award and a Wordcraft Circle Writer of the Year in Creative Prose award. In 2004, Shell Shaker was published in French. Howe is a recipient of a National Endowment for the Humanities award for research and a Smithsonian Native American internship for research. She has written and directed for theater, radio, and film. Her most recent film project as the narrator/host of Spiral of Fire aired on PBS in the fall of 2006. She is currently an associate professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.