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House of Purple Cedar

Rethinking Schools

Giving voice to characters is perhaps Tim 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 about arriving 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 is characterized by the persevering humanity of the Choctaw people at a time when they were under assault by those driven by greed and racism. Grades 9 and above.
- May 21, 2014  Visit Website

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