Books: Fiction

House of Purple Cedar

Book — Fiction. By Tim Tingle. 2014. 326 pages.
A young girl’s story of growing up in Indian Territory in pre-statehood Oklahoma.

Time Periods: 1877, 19th Century
Themes: Native American

houseofpurplecedar9781935955245Giving voice to characters is, perhaps, Tingle’s greatest strength. His House of Purple Cedar opens with Rose, a young Choctaw girl, saying: “The hour has come to speak of troubled times. It is time we spoke of Skullyville.”

Through her, we see horrific racism in the late 1800s in Oklahoma. A Choctaw boarding school is set afire, the girls inside burned to death. Two years later at the train station, the town marshal — drunk and enraged for having arrived too late to greet the new Indian Agent — takes his rage out on Amafo (Rose’s elderly grandfather) by striking him on the side of his head with a plank.

But we see goodness, too, in the townspeople who, along with Amafo, choose to stand against racism.

Tingle’s story (for grades 9 and above) is characterized by humanity that perseveres at a time when Choctaw people were under assault by those driven by greed and racism. [Description by Rethinking Schools.]

ISBN: 9781935955245 | Cinco Puntos Press