House of Purple Cedar

Overview

"The hour has come to speak of troubled times. It is time we spoke of Skullyville." Thus begins Rose Goode's story of her growing up in Indian Territory in pre-statehood Oklahoma. Skullyville, a once-thriving Choctaw community, was destroyed by land-grabbers, culminating in the arson on New Year's Eve, 1896, of New Hope Academy for Girls. Twenty Choctaw girls died, but Rose escaped. She is blessed by the presence of her grandmother Pokoni and her grandfather Amafo, both respected elders who understand the old ways. Soon after the fire, the white

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House of Purple Cedar

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Overview

"The hour has come to speak of troubled times. It is time we spoke of Skullyville." Thus begins Rose Goode's story of her growing up in Indian Territory in pre-statehood Oklahoma. Skullyville, a once-thriving Choctaw community, was destroyed by land-grabbers, culminating in the arson on New Year's Eve, 1896, of New Hope Academy for Girls. Twenty Choctaw girls died, but Rose escaped. She is blessed by the presence of her grandmother Pokoni and her grandfather Amafo, both respected elders who understand the old ways. Soon after the fire, the white sheriff beats Amafo in front of the town's people, humiliating him. Instead of asking the Choctaw community to avenge the beating, her grandfather decides to follow the path of forgiveness. And so unwinds this tale of mystery, Indian-style magical realism, and deep wisdom. It's a world where backwoods spiritualism and Bible-thumping Christianity mix with bad guys; a one-legged woman shop-keeper, her oaf of a husband, herbal potions, and shape-shifting panthers rendering justice. Tim Tingle—a scholar of his nation's language, culture, and spirituality—tells Rose's story of good and evil with understanding and even laugh-out-loud Choctaw humor.

Tim Tingle, responding to a scarcity of Choctaw literature, began interviewing tribal elders in the early '90s. His collection Walking the Choctaw Road was the Oklahoma Book of the Year. Tingle's children's book, Crossing Bok Chitto, garnered over twenty state and national awards, including Best Children's Book from the American Indian Library Association, and was an Editor's Choice in the New York Times Book Review.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
11/18/2013
Tingle’s (Walking the Chocktaw Road) novel is set near the end of the 19th century in Skullyville, Okla., a small community of Choctaw Indians. Rose lives with her parents; her brother, Jamey; her grandfather, Amafo; and her grandmother, Pokoni. Reverend Willis has several sons and a daughter, Roberta Jean. One day Amafo takes Rose to the nearby town of Spiro, where they encounter the local marshal, Hardwicke, who is a drunk and a bully. Hardwicke attacks Amafo with a board, shattering the right lens of his glasses. The reaction to this attack, which involves a great deal of courage among a great many people, provides the impetus for the rest of the book. There is plenty of warmth and sincerity here, and a good (though repetitive) story to boot, but much of the dialogue and exposition feels more appropriate for young adult literature (Tingle himself is also a children’s author), and the novel might appeal most to teenagers. (Jan.)
Kirkus Reviews
2013-10-20
In Tingle's (How I Became a Ghost, 2013, etc.) haunting novel, the Trail of Tears is a memory, but the Choctaw people of Oklahoma still confront prejudice and contempt. It's 1896. At Skullyville settlement, New Hope Academy for Girls has been destroyed by fire. Twenty Choctaw girls die. Tingle's story spans the months following the fire as experienced by Rose Goode, a student. Rose goes home to her parents and to beloved Pokoni and Amafo, her grandparents. Shortly thereafter, Amafo visits Spiro, a town nearby, with Rose and her little brother. There, he's viciously assaulted by town marshal Robert Hardwicke, who's in a drunken rage. That night, Choctaw people gather, both fearing attack and planning revenge. But then, stoic, dignified Amafo says, "I will do this, speak friendly words to him and tip my hat to him, till one day he will turn away from me and they will see who is afraid." In quiet, often poetic language drawn from nature's images and from Choctaw ethos, Tingle sketches Amafo, a marvelous character both wise and loving. Tingle writes of cultures clashing, certainly, but hatred from nahullos (whites) like Hardwicke is counterbalanced by the goodwill of others like John Burleson, railroad stationmaster, and one-legged store clerk Maggie Johnston. Despite assimilating elements of white culture, including Christianity, Tingle's Choctaws maintain mystical connections to the land and its creatures. The tale is ripe with symbolism and peopled by riveting characters. A lyrical, touching tale of love and family, compassion and forgiveness.
From the Publisher

"Rose, a young Choctaw woman of the late 1800s, looks back on a dark episode from her childhood when the racism and fear that paralyzed a town are faced down by the steadfast confidence her grandfather has in the goodness of people to overcome hate. Told with superb storytelling and unforgettable characters."—Debbie Reese, School Library Journal

"An overarching message of forgiveness and love, underscored by themes of patience and resilience, takes House of Purple Cedar from historical to timeless. Readers won't need to be Oklahomans or history buffs to appreciate the book's intricate web of small town happenings and mystical realism. To enjoy this world, you need only an open heart and a love of great stories." Shelf Awareness

“I love this book. There is nothing else quite like it in its loving, clear-eyed description of a people, a time, and a place that are little-known to most. Humor, honesty, lyrical, poetic prose, it has it all—including the voice of a true storyteller bringing it to vivid life. I think of it as a potential classic.”—Joseph Bruchac, author of Code Talker

“In quiet, often poetic language drawn from nature’s images…the tale is ripe with symbolism and peopled by riveting characters. A lyrical, touching tale of love and family, compassion and forgiveness.”Kirkus Reviews

"For the past fifteen years, there has been a phenomenal growth of quality literary works by Choctaw Indian writers—Jim Barnes, LeAnne Howe, Louis Owens, Donald L. Birchfield, Ronald B. Querry, Phillip Carroll Morgan, Tim Tingle among them. And now Tim Tingle's House of Purple Cedar comes as the era's crowning achievement."—Geary Hobson, author of Plain of Jars and Other Stories

"Tingle ... effectively recaptures a piece of buried history."Library Journal

"Giving voice to characters is perhaps Tim Tingle’s greatest strength."Rethinking Schools

Library Journal
06/01/2014
In 1896, as white settlers hungry for land flooded into Indian territory in what is now Oklahoma, a boarding school for Indian girls called the New Hope Academy was burned to the ground with a severe loss of life. It presaged the destruction of the Choctaw community, related here by fire survivor Rose Goode in measured but heartfelt language. VERDICT Tingle, who began interviewing Choctaw trible elders in the early 1990s, effectively recaptures a piece of buried history.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781935955696
  • Publisher: Cinco Puntos Press
  • Publication date: 2/18/2014
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 1,394,076
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author


Tim Tingle is an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and a frequent speaker at tribal events. His great-great grandfather, John Carnes, walked the Trail of Tears in 1835, and memories of this family epic fuel his writing and storytelling.

Author of six books, Tingle was a featured speaker at the Native American wing of the Smithsonian Institute in 2006 and 2007.

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