House of Purple Cedar

Tim Tingle (Author)
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"The hour has come to speak of troubled times. It is time we spoke of Skullyville." Thus begins Rose Goode's story of her growing up in Indian Territory in pre-statehood 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 town's people, humiliating him. Instead of asking the Choctaw community to avenge the beating, her grandfather decides to follow the path of forgiveness. And so unwinds this tale of mystery, Indian-style magical realism, and deep wisdom. It's a world where backwoods spiritualism and Bible-thumping Christianity mix with bad guys; a one-legged woman shop-keeper, her oaf of a husband, herbal potions, and shape-shifting panthers rendering justice. Tim Tingle--a scholar of his nation's language, culture, and spirituality--tells Rose's story of good and evil with understanding and even laugh-out-loud Choctaw humor.

Tim Tingle, responding to a scarcity of Choctaw literature, began interviewing tribal elders in the early '90s. His collection Walking the Choctaw Road was the Oklahoma Book of the Year. Tingle's children's book, Crossing Bok Chitto, garnered over twenty state and national awards, including Best Children's Book from the American Indian Library Association, and was an Editor's Choice in the New York Times Book Review.

Product Details

$16.95  $15.59
Cinco Puntos Press
Publish Date
February 18, 2014
6.0 X 1.1 X 8.9 inches | 1.1 pounds
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About the Author

Tim Tingle is an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and a frequent speaker at tribal events. His great-great grandfather, John Carnes, walked the Trail of Tears in 1835, and memories of this family epic fuel his writing and storytelling.

Author of six books, Tingle was a featured speaker at the Native American wing of the Smithsonian Institute in 2006 and 2007.


"Rose, a young Choctaw woman of the late 1800s, looks back on a dark episode from her childhood when the racism and fear that paralyzed a town are faced down by the steadfast confidence her grandfather has in the goodness of people to overcome hate. Told with superb storytelling and unforgettable characters."--Debbie Reese, School Library Journal

"An overarching message of forgiveness and love, underscored by themes of patience and resilience, takes House of Purple Cedar from historical to timeless. Readers won't need to be Oklahomans or history buffs to appreciate the book's intricate web of small town happenings and mystical realism. To enjoy this world, you need only an open heart and a love of great stories." --Shelf Awareness

"I love this book. There is nothing else quite like it in its loving, clear-eyed description of a people, a time, and a place that are little-known to most. Humor, honesty, lyrical, poetic prose, it has it all--including the voice of a true storyteller bringing it to vivid life. I think of it as a potential classic."--Joseph Bruchac, author of Code Talker

"In quiet, often poetic language drawn from nature's images...the tale is ripe with symbolism and peopled by riveting characters. A lyrical, touching tale of love and family, compassion and forgiveness."--Kirkus Reviews

"For the past fifteen years, there has been a phenomenal growth of quality literary works by Choctaw Indian writers--Jim Barnes, LeAnne Howe, Louis Owens, Donald L. Birchfield, Ronald B. Querry, Phillip Carroll Morgan, Tim Tingle among them. And now Tim Tingle's House of Purple Cedar comes as the era's crowning achievement."--Geary Hobson, author of Plain of Jars and Other Stories

"Tingle ... effectively recaptures a piece of buried history."--Library Journal

"Giving voice to characters is perhaps Tim Tingle's greatest strength."--Rethinking Schools

"It was beautiful. The events of the story were difficult, but Tim Tingle is a master storyteller. His writing is stunningly perfect, the story he's created here had me glued to my book..." --Reading For Sanity

"Tingle's storytelling is both deeply poetic--the inclusion of Choctaw hymnal lyrics is affecting even for those who can't read them--and gently spiced with dialect, making this a feast for gourmets of good storytelling..." -- Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books