Something to Hold
Something to Hold takes place in 1962 on the Oregon Indian reservation, Warm Springs. Kitty's dad works for the government forestry service putting out forest fires in the great Northwest. Her family lives on the reservation, which is fine, but she and her siblings will attend the reservation school as well. She's unsure of how this will go as she already feels uncomfortable feelings from some of the local children. This is such a great description of what Native life would be like then and probably now as well. The story is based on the author's own growing up experiences and as a reader I enjoyed her recollections immensely. Noe's website has an interesting biographical information about her years on the reservation.
Quote that made me mad as Mr. Nute their teacher "teaches" them about Columbus Day as they prepare for a celebration honoring Mr. Columbus and the Native children don't know or understand the state song:
"We are all immigrants," he says, "And America is the greatest country in the history of mankind. It was established on the backs of those who came before us."
Mr. Nute pauses for a second to let that sink in, then he unleashes an oration on Columbus Day and the ideals on which this country was founded. All made possible, Mr. Nute tells us, because this one man and a bunch of others who came after him had the courage and vision to seek out this empty and savage New World, to plant their flags so that civilized men could tame it, men like our country's forefathers and the great exploreres who made the Oregon Territory safe for the pioneers, all of whom sacrificed so much so that we can have the freedom-the unearned and unappreciated luxury-to sit here and wallow in our ignorance.
"Now, let's take it from the top," Mr. Nute says quietly. "One more time." (56)
This is a lesson for Native children? Yes, I know. The audacity. This attitude is still what gets our country into trouble. This story grabbed me as Kitty deals with friendship, bullying, racism, and attitudes. She learns so much about herself in this one important year. Tina said it first so I'm just agreeing and repeating but this one should be honored with an award this year.