Thursday, February 20, 2014

History Corner/ Book Review: Totems of September by Dr. Robin LaDue and Mary Kay Voss, Illus by Rhys Haug


Disclosure / Disclaimer: I received this book, free of charge, from the author, via Bostick Communications for review purposes on this blog. No other compensation, monetary or in kind, has been received or implied for this post. Nor was I told how to post about it.


I saved this book for today, to fit under our History Corner meme, as it deals with September 11th,
a day of infamy for most Americans.

Synopsis:
In their first historical novel,Native American Emmy-nominated author Robin LaDue and journalist Mary Kay Voss use the Native American storytelling tradition of circles on circles and lives on lives. It is interspersed with the culture of the Northwest and Plains tribes through the use of animal legends and myths.
The juxtaposition of Wyoming's Devils Tower and the tragedy of September 11 brings to light little-known Native American history as well as current themes: US soldiers' struggle through the fog of war, PTSD stemming from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the devastating health risks of 9/11 rescue workers. 

Three memorable characters--dating from the early 1900s to 2006--their lineage and their families are woven together through the threads of history, human connections, hope and redemption.

The tenacity, warmth, humor and love of Geronimo Barse and Billy Hawk shine through their painful experiences in the Indian boarding schools, World War II, and the loss of so many loved ones. Lola LeFleur and all the LeFleur women before her and to follow fight desperately to change their perceived destiny.
The warmth and healing of the Ranch, and the stability of Devils Tower in a world of terror, are integral factors in the rebuilding of so many shattered lives.
Review:
I tend to wax nostalgic and get 'professorish' when it comes to Native American books, but I am keeping this brief today!
The Native American story telling tradition always tells a tale of the familiar, to teach valuable lessons. In this book, the authors have taken that concept, combined it with Northwest and Plains tribal culture, and used it to weave a tale of our connections to each other, of heritage spoken and unspoken, and ultimately of recovery. The 3 stories deftly intertwine and show us what hope there is  for us all.
A well written Native American novel, I recommend to anyone looking to discover the culture behind the images.



About the Authors/Illustrator:

Dr. Robin LaDue is a retired clinical psychologist formerly in private practice in Washington State. She was born in Seattle but raised in the Sacramento, California area.

Robin's grandfather and great-uncles were survivors of the Cushman Boarding School, having been removed from their parents and experienced the horrors of having their hair cut, not being able to speak their language, and losing their culture. This heritage, along with Dr. LaDue's passion for helping Native women raise healthy babies and addressing the problems of oppression and loss in Native communities, were driving forces in her personal and professional life.
She received her Master's and Doctorate degrees from Washington State University; has been affiliated with the University of Missouri, Kansas City, and with the University of Washington's Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, the Native American Center for Excellence, and Waikato University in Hamilton, New Zealand. Dr. LaDue has lectured worldwide on the effects of prenatal alcohol exposure and historical trauma in Native American communities, as well as the treatment for and consequences of psychological trauma, including traditional Native methods of treatment. She is an enrolled member of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe of Washington. 
Mary Kay Voss is a journalist.editor, actress and teacher.
Rhys Haug:  A professional Artist and part-time doorman living in beautiful Seattle. Originally from Eastern Washington but Seattle is now my home.

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