Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Runaway Papoose, by Grace Moon

The Runaway Papoose is the story of Nah-tee, a young Native American girl in the Southwest. The title isn't entirely accurate- "runaway" tends to conjure images of rebellious or abused children seeking greener pastures. Nah-tee, however, flees into the desert in fear one night when her father is ambushed and attacked as their family is traveling. She becomes lost in the dark and finds Moyo, a young shepherd, who takes pity on her and agrees to take her around the area on his pony in the hopes of locating her parents. Unfortunately, they have no luck.

Everyone in the area knows that a huge festival is coming up, and that everyone within a reasonable radius will try to attend. So Moyo and Nah-tee undertake the long journey to get there, in the hopes that her parents will be attending. Along the way they meet new friends who help them with food and places to rest, and they learn the ancient history of their people, which becomes significant once they reach the festival. And in the end, the evildoers receive what they deserve, as do the good and honest.

This one was a cute enough story, but I can't speak to its accuracy because the author is rather deliberate in her refusal to name the tribes in question. Many hints are dropped (pueblos and hogans, Katchinas, turquoise as a sacred stone) but my guess is that she kept it vague so that she wouldn't be held accountable for the facts.

I was unable to find any information about the author of the book so I don't have any information as to her background. Chandra's blog entry on the book more or less echoes my own sentiments about the unfortunate use of language in this book (very pidgin-y in places) so I'll link her up rather than reinvent the wheel.

Interestingly enough, I decided to do a quick Wikipedia look up for the word "papoose", not knowing whether it was an acceptable word, or one used more pejoratively (as in the case of that s-word-which-we-no-longer-use). Turns out that it has no negative connotations; it just refers to a Native child, or, alternately, to a cradle board used for carrying such. The word actually has its source in the Narragansett language, right here in Rhode Island. Local connection, hooray!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Melanie! Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and commenting!! And of course I'm thrilled to have you link to me! It's so exciting to encounter another nutty person like myself taking on this project ;-) And how exciting that Downright Dencey was your favorite of the 1920s too!! Although, sad to say, I'm afraid I drew similar conclusions about that decade with regards to children's was rather dire! And now I'm excited to poke around your blog and find out where you are in the process and what your conclusions have been!

    I'm still in the early thirties myself. I had to take a break for November due to some travels and I'm now waiting on my copy of Daughter of the Seine: The Life of Madame Roland to arrive via ILL. I'm very anxious that I get here before I leave for Christmas break on the 17th!