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Webmaster's Blog - Native American Resources

A place to put resources of a more ephemeral nature, such as events, recommended new websites, new books, etc.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Ellsbury an inspirational figure back home in Oregon

Man of the peoples
Ellsbury an inspiration at home, especially to Native Americans

By Gordon Edes
Globe Staff / November 25, 2007
MADRAS, Ore. - Liz Nelson, his first-grade teacher, wore his 6-year-old handprint over her heart, on the sweater her volunteer room mother had made as a Christmas present, little hands drawn everywhere.

Judy Vanek, a nurse in town who had wheeled a patient fresh from surgery out of the recovery room so he could get back in time to watch the World Series, carried a wallet-sized photo of him from high school, posing with Amanda Bailey with a crown on his head, king of the "Cinderella Ball."

The Eagle Thunder Drum Group from Warm Springs, the nearby Indian reservation where his mother and father worked and he had first played T-ball, boomed out a number in his honor, before Chief Delvis Heath, in a full eagle-feather headdress, draped a medallion around his neck. Later, in another ceremony at the reservation, he and his father, Jim, would be presented with hand-woven blankets.

The Red Sox had sent an official Series banner, which hung behind one basket in the high school gym where he never lost a center jump, outleaping opponents a half-foot taller. Jim Reese, his old high school baseball coach, had driven more than two hours in the rain to be here. US Sen. Gordon Smith sent some of his people with the American flag that had flown over the Capitol the day after the Sox won the Series. And the 27-year-old mayor, Jason Hale, gave him the key to the city.

His mother, Margie, and the oldest of his three younger brothers, the one who most looked like him, signed autographs. And on this day, anyway, it seemed as if every kid in town had the same name, because there was only one appearing on the back of most every jersey: "Jacoby."

Jacoby Ellsbury had come home, to this central Oregon farm town tucked away on the far side of Mt. Hood, after a month in which no one talked about much else at the Black Bear Diner than their native son, even if Jennifer Aniston was in town, making a movie. The ride he took in a black convertible through the streets of Madras, behind the fire trucks and police cars and ahead of the hay wagon carrying the Warm Springs Reds, the undefeated Little League team? The parade in Boston had been sweet, he said, but it couldn't match this.

"He was born in this area," said his father, Jim Ellsbury, who for 28 years has worked this land as a forestry expert for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, while Margie Ellsbury, a full-blooded Navajo, worked on the reservation as an early-education and special-education specialist. "These are his people. For him to be honored this way is wonderful."

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Paula Gunn Allen receives a 2007 Lannan Literary Fellowship

The Lannan Literary Awards and Fellowships were established in 1989 to honor both established and emerging writers whose work is of exceptional quality. Over the last 18 years, through its Awards and Fellowships program, the Foundation has awarded 161 writers and poets over $11 million. The awards recognize writers who have made significant contributions to English-language literature. The fellowships recognize writers of distinctive literary merit who demonstrate potential for continued outstanding work.

Paula Gunn Allen, of Laguna, Sioux and Lebanese descent, is a literary critic, poet, and novelist, and a noted scholar of Native American literature. During a long and distinguished academic career, she edited numerous seminal texts including The Sacred Hoop: Recovering the Feminine in Native American Traditions (1986) and Spider Woman’s Granddaughters (1990) as well as works on poetry and critical essays on Native American literature. She retired from her position as Professor of English/Creative Writing/American Indian Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1999.

Momaday to receive the National Medal of the Arts

Nine recipients of the National Medal of Arts were announced yesterday by President Bush. The nominations were managed by the National Endowment for the Arts. The author, essayist, poet, professor and painter N. Scott Momaday, Kiowa, was among the 2007 recipients at the White House ceremony. Other recipients were the artist Andrew Wyeth, the composer Morten Lauridsen, the arts patron Roy R. Neuberger, the Old Globe Theater founding director Craig Noel, the guitarist and inventor Les Paul, the arts patron Henry Steinway, the painter George Tooker, and the Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival at the University of Idaho.

2007 National Book Award Young People's Literature Winner

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Little, Brown & Company

Interview conducted by Rita Williams-Garcia.

RWG: Now that it's all said and done, what is the story decision that you are most proud of?

SA: I suppose I'm most proud of telling the story in first person. I worried that my highly autobiographical novel would be just thinly disguised memoir if I wrote in the first person. And I was equally worried about writing yet another first-person YA novel, featuring yet another highly sensitive protagonist. So, yes, I did write an early draft in the third person, but that narrative distance created an emotional distance as well. And I realized that I was afraid of the first person because I was afraid of my own history. I'm not a fearful person, onstage or in my books or anywhere else, so I was nearly debilitated by my fear. I wasn't sure I was going to be able to finish the book. But with much support from my family, my agent Nancy, and my editor Jennifer, I was able to proceed.

RWG: You are amongst friends. Which scene made you pee on yourself as you wrote it? (Don't even front. I know you peed.)

SA: I peed with laughter when I wrote the "metaphorical boner" discussion between Arnold, my Spokane Indian protagonist, and Gordon, his new friend and white boy genius. I just loved the thought of two adolescent males discussing books with as much sexual ferocity as most boys (and men) discuss women.

RWG: Arnold is a comic book artist and a self-described book kisser who stands up to Tolstoy. What is literacy to Arnold?

SA: Wow, that's an interesting question. I suppose Arnold would think that literacy is a form of self-defense. If one reads enough books one has a fighting chance. Or better, one's chances of survival increase with each book one reads. I love that Arnold takes on Tolstoy (I would have never had that kind of courage) and I'm a little miffed that you're one of the few interviewers to bring it up. In fact, I change my mind about the first question above. I'm most proud that Arnold, a rez boy, has enough courage to disprove the universally accepted literary maxim that happy families are all alike when, in fact, it is the unhappy families who are most similar, especially on a reservation.