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: 19th Century, Industrial Revolution: 1877 - 1899
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 | Published by Cinco Puntos Press.