Posts by Danielle Geller

Book Review of Citizens Creek

Tademy, Lalita. Citizens Creek. New York, NY: Atria Books, 2014.

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Review submitted by Marsha Lytle, Book Review Editor

Lalita Tademy, author of New York Times bestselling novel, Cane River, has captured the spirit and challenges of a family of African-American/Creek Indians in Alabama starting in 1822. Cow Tom is valuable to his master because of his expertise in cattle, translation, and negotiation skills. He hopes to earn enough to buy both his and his wife’s freedom. When he gets a chance to fight the Seminoles in Florida, he has two motives—to find his mother, who was captured by Seminole raiders, and earn more money towards his freedom. He makes a friend for life, Harry, during the war and also rescues his mother.

Years later, Cow Tom has earned his freedom and runs his own farm in Indian Country, but the Civil War comes to Oklahoma. Once more, Cow Tom is forced to move on with his family, now encompassing four generations. With the shelter of a fort to protect them, they are safe from the raids, but starvation is an everyday occurrence in the vast tent city that springs up. Cow Tom is valuable to the leaders and is able to provide for his family better than most.

Rose, his youngest granddaughter, is most like him. She admires her grandfather and the respect he receives. At their new ranch in Oklahoma, they prosper with many cattle, but Cow Tom is getting old and won’t live much longer. Eventually Rose leaves home to work for a family in town, where she meets her future husband. Rose’s growing family prospers, but with the discovery of oil and the impending statehood, new challenges arise when whites arrive to try to trick Indians into selling their land.

This historical fiction novel covers years of events that affected the Native American population in the South and Midwest. A great story.

Book Review of The Red Bird All-Indian Traveling Band

Washburn, Frances. The Red Bird All-Indian Traveling Band. No ed. Vol. 77. Tucson: U of Arizona, 2014. 178. Print.

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Reviewed by John Baken
Head Librarian IV at Willmar Public Library, which is a part of Pioneerland Library System in Minnesota.

In an entertaining and often engaging narrative, which begins on the Fourth of July in 1969 and ends some four months later, author Frances Washburn allows readers a unique glimpse of contemporary American Indian life on the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Indian Reservations in rural South Dakota. The novel’s protagonist, Sissy Roberts, is a smart, articulate, and attractive young Lakota woman who always finds herself on the receiving end of whatever it is people have on their mind. Normally, being the recipient of the town’s gossip is not a problem, but when local resident Buffalo Ames turns up dead next to the railroad tracks, after a rowdy Fourth of July night of drinking, dancing, and romancing at the Longhorn Bar in Scenic, Sissy Roberts’ life suddenly becomes more complicated than ever.

When she’s not waiting tables at the local greasy spoon cafe, Sissy plays a mean lead guitar and belts out songs for The Red Bird All-Indian Traveling Band. As the band’s name implies, Sissy and the boys perform at a different venue every weekend. But talented and beautiful young women like Sissy are not always content to bide their time on the reservation. In fact, more often than not, they find themselves pregnant and single with lousy options to choose from, like Sissy’s friend Speedy, who lives with Sissy and her family.

In a novel rich in detail and smart about the lay of the land on and around the rez, Washburn’s novel is both compelling and educational, especially for non-native greenhorns. To find out what happens to Sissy and Speedy and the many other fascinating characters, including an FBI agent with an eye out for Sissy Roberts, you should read this novel! I highly recommend it for inclusion in any tribal or traditional library.

Frances Washburn (Lakota/Anishinabe) was born and raised on Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. She is the author of two previous novels, Elsie’s Business and The Sacred White Turkey, and is Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the American Indian Studies department at University of Arizona.

An interview with Dr. Lotsee Patterson, a founding member of AILA

By Zora Sampson

In order to honor the 35th anniversary of the American Indian Library Association, our AILA, it was my privilege to interview one of the founders, Dr. Lotsee Patterson, Professor Emeritus of the School of Library and Information Science, University of Oklahoma. My remarks are based on an interview with her and her own writings.

AILA’s roots reach back much further in time than thirty five years ago. It began with dedicated educators trying to serve native students who had limited access to libraries, bookstores, and books; some schools were built without any library at all. When Native Americans attended college to get teaching degrees and more, those who turned back to serve their communities found needed resources lacking.

While the passage of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act in the mid-1970s helped, enabling tribes to contract for services with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), libraries were still staffed by non-professionals as tribes could not afford professional salaries. The Native American professionals who did attain their Masters in Library Science and PhDs were sought after by universities to increase diversity. These scholars were torn between serving their communities or earning a better wage where they lived in cultural vacuums.

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Book Review of Hungry Johnny

By Cheryl Minnema. Illustrator Wesley Ballinger. Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2014.

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Review submitted by SaraJane Tompkins
Reference Librarian/Pre K-12 Collection, Olson Library, Northern Michigan University

In Hungry Johnny, Minnema presents a believable character throughout the story. Johnny is like many children: a busy, hungry little boy who must learn patience from his family members, but I sensed that the story is both ordinary and special because it includes reminders of the traditions and generosity of Native Americans. Ballinger’s colorful illustrations bring life to each page. The details of Johnny’s moccasins, his little plastic buddy, Grandma’s beaded earrings, and the community that Johnny is part of today reflect Ballinger’s understanding of life from Johnny’s point of view.

I had the pleasure to read this to my 5- and 3-year-old grandchildren. Two things stood out for me. First they enjoyed Johnny’s repetition, “I like to eat eat eat” (a lot). Second was their discovery of Johnny’s Community Centre. “Look, we have a community center, just like Johnny”. I can imagine Johnny sharing other stories with readers.

As the story and illustrations were created by tribal members, I applaud the publisher and hope to see more support for books from and about Ojibwe children. The glossary even includes an invitation to the Anishinaabe language. I would recommend this book as an addition to any collection.

Member Spotlight: Gary McCone

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Gary McCone

Retired Associate Director of the NAL, Information Systems Division

What do you do?
I retired from federal service in 2010, having spent my entire library career at the Library of Congress and the National Agricultural Library, with the final 15 years as Associate Director of NAL in charge of the Information Systems Division. I now volunteer for the American Indian Higher Education Consortium consulting on issues of library and information systems and seeking out consortia pricing for digital resources (thus far remarkably unsuccessful)

What brought you to AILA?
Other than growing up in eastern Wyoming and getting my MLS from the University of Arizona, my first real contact with tribal librarians was through Kathy Kaya and Mary Anne Hansen, Montana State University, and their outstanding Tribal College Librarians Institute in the late 1990s. I was so impressed with the librarians I met at the Institutes and with the challenges they faced in serving such a neglected community that I joined AILA as soon as I discovered it and have been lurking about ever since.

What other interests do you have?
My four pre-teen grandchildren live about ten minutes away and I spend as much time as possible spoiling them. I put on a dozen table tennis tournaments every year, even though I play rather poorly. I’ve been interested in languages since my Army Security Agency days when I translated Chinese Mandarin and Vietnamese and recently completed a three-year term as President of the National Museum of Language. One very nice perk to the book giveaway is that all these terrific books pass through my hands on their way to the tribes . . . and some of them linger awhile so we can get to know each other a little better.

Is there a resource or project you’d like to alert us to?
One program I’ve been working on for about 16 years is my Great Book Giveaway which has provided tens of thousands of books to tribal entities, primarily to tribal college and university libraries. I accumulate books from a wide variety of sources: Library of Congress Surplus Books Program, the National Museum of the American Indian library, the District of Columbia Chapter of the Special Libraries Association, the National Agricultural Library, the U.S. Dept. of Education, Fannie Mae, Barbed Wire Books in Longmont, CO, private donations, and many others who hear about the program and want to help. Several times each year I distribute an author/title list to TCU librarians and divvy up the books to send out. Fortunately, NAL pays for the shipping costs, so there is never any charge to receiving libraries. If more people know that there is a procedure to provide tribal libraries with quality books, we’ll be able to enhance their collections even more.

Why is AILA important to you?
Because I’m not at a tribal library nor associated with a Native American studies program, the AILA listserv and Newsletter provide me with a deeper understanding of pertinent issues in the community and also provide knowledgeable contacts whenever I feel like posing a question.

Member Spotlight: Naomi Bishop

Naomi Bishop

Naomi Bishop

Research Librarian, Ventana Medical Systems, Tucson, AZ

What do you do?
I’m a solo research librarian at an international company that manufactures instruments for cancer diagnostics. I provide research support, online literature searches, and instruction to support company information needs. My main customers are scientists, engineers, and pathologists, but I support all areas of the company including research & development, sales & marketing, and manufacturing. Some of my most popular services are targeted literature searches, reference requests, and weekly literature updates. I also assist with post-market surveillance for existing products. Ninety-eight percent of our library collection is electronic, but I still have a few bookshelves.

What brought you to AILA?
I volunteered to be a part of AILA while I was a student at the University of Washington. I was the only Native student in the MLIS program in Washington, so I joined AILA to meet other Native librarians and archivists.

What other interests do you have?
Sports! I’m a huge Arizona Wildcat fan . Basketball and Baseball are my favorite sports to watch. I also love children’s and youth literature. I’m a member of the AILA Youth Literature Awards Committee and love finding great books to read. I also enjoy walking with my Great Dane, Blue!

Is there a resource or project you’d like to alert us to?
Yes, I think everyone should be aware of the Resources list on the AILA website. These resources are for everyone and there is so much good stuff on the list.

Why is AILA important to you?
AILA is important to me because it encourages me to stay involved and work for change in the field. My mother always took us to the library when I was a child, and I want to make sure that libraries are relevant, fun, engaging, and accessible for the next generation. I especially want to see more fiction and picture books from Native authors and illustrators. I stopped reading in junior high and didn’t get back to reading until graduate school. I appreciate AILA being there for me and helping me to grow and help other librarians.

Book review of Xiipúktan (First of All)

Bryant, George and Miller, Amy. Xiipúktan (First of All): Three Views of the Origins of the Quechan People. Cambridge, UK: OpenBook Publishers, 2013. DOI: 10.11647/OBP.0037

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Review submitted by Naomi Caldwell, PhD
Associate Professor and Coordinator, Library Education Media Program, Alabama State University

First of All is a remarkable collaborative work by George Bryant, a fluent native Quechan researcher, and Dr. Amy Miller, linguist, University of California, San Diego. Their combined expertise enables the reader to examine three traditional stories: two previously recorded in English by J.P. Harrington (1908), and one extended recalling by Bryant (1995). Notably, Bryant’s perspective differs from Harrington’s. The Bryant version synthesizes his childhood memories and the results of his research. Bryant tells of the Bering Strait migration of the Quechan people, elaborates on early events of creation, and fully integrates Quechan language rhetorical devices such as repetition, syntactic parallelism, and narrative time. In many ways, Bryant’s recalling completes the Harrington stories by infusing more Quechan cultural perspectives into the narrative. All three views of the origin of the Quechan are printed in parallel Quechan and English formatted text. The meticulous transcript review process is evidenced by notes at the end of each retelling. This single volume is made complete by providing a practical orthography along with pronunciation tips and grammar. The elegance of the three retellings illuminates the copious ingenuity and progression of Quechan literature. First of All is the fifth volume in the World Oral Literature series and is available in print, PDF, and digital eBook and mobi formats. It was made possible by National Science Foundation and Institute of Museum and Library Services Native American/Native Hawaiian Museum Services grants. Highly recommended for Native language and traditional story collections. First of All is freely available to read on-line.

Editor’s Note:

OpenBook Publishers is a non-profit organization committed to providing open access to high-quality research internationally. All manuscripts are peer-reviewed by at least two subject specialists in the relevant field. Published works are available in hardback, paperback, PDF, and ebook editions and are also available to read and download—for free—on their website.