“The hour has come to speak of troubled times. It is time we spoke of Skullyville.” Thus begins House of Purple Cedar, Rose Goode’s telling of the year when she was eleven in Indian country, Oklahoma.
Skullyville, a once-thriving Choctaw community, was destroyed by land-grabbers, culminating in the arson on New Year’s Eve, 1896, of New Hope Academy for Girls. Twenty Choctaw girls died, but Rose escaped. She is blessed by the presence of her grandmother Pokoni and her grandfather Amafo, both respected elders who understand the old ways. Soon after the fire, the white sheriff beats Amafo in front of the townspeople. Yet, instead of seeking vengeance, her grandfather follows the path of forgiveness. And so unwinds this tale of mystery, Chotaw mysticism, and deep wisdom. It’s a world where one’s values are tested again and again. Where a one-legged woman shop-keeper, her oaf of a husband, herbal potions, and shape-shifting panthers render justice. Tim Tingle—a scholar of his nation’s language, culture, and spirituality—tells Rose’s story of good and evil with compassion and even laugh-out-loud Choctaw humor.
About the Author
Tim Tingle, a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, is a popular presenter at storytelling and folklore festivals across America. He was featured at the 2002 National Storytelling Festival. In 2004, he was a Teller-In-Residence at The International Storytelling Center, Jonesborough, Tennessee. Choctaw Chief Gregory Pyle has requested a story by Tingle previous to his Annual State of the Nation Address at the Choctaw Labor Day Gathering–a celebration that attracts over thirty thousand people– from 2002 to the present.
Indian mysticism meets the cruelties and glories of our temporal world in Tingle’s transcendent story, where the power of love and forgiveness triumph over the evils of racism and greed. The novel is inspired by the true destruction of New Hope Seminary – a boarding school for Choctaw girls in Skullyville, Oklahoma – as well as by Choctaw stories of that devastating 1896 fire.