05 September 2012

Cherokee Stories of the Turtle Island Liars' Club

ᎦᎵᎡᎵᎦ! Cherokee Stories of the Turtle Island Liars' Club has just been published by the University of North Carolina Press. The result of years of collaboration between Christopher B. Teuton, a Cherokee author, literary critic, and associate professor, and the Turtle Island Liars' Club, a storytelling group from northeastern Oklahoma featuring Woody Hansen, Sequoyah Guess, Sammy Sill, and the late Hastings Shade, former Deputy Chief of the Cherokee Nation and Cherokee National Treasures. The storytelling group includes citizens of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians and the Cherokee Nation, both of Oklahoma, and they maintain close ties with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, located in North Carolina.

Dr. Teuton (Cherokee Nation) is currently part of the University of North Carolina's Department of American Studies and specializes in American Indian literature. He has dedicated years to recording stories of the Liars' Club and interviewing the members of the group. Through a yearlong residency at the School of Advanced Research in Santa Fe, Teuton was able to edit and develop the text for the book. From the SAR website, "there is no precise word in Cherokee for storytelling. In a language full of puns, the term used instead is gagoga, the word for lying—which brings us to the Turtle Island Liars’ Club."

Water Spider Steals Fire, America Meredith
Cherokee Stories of the Turtle Island Liars' Club is the first collection of Western Cherokee oral history to be published in almost 40 years, when Jack and Anna Kilpatrick wrote their beloved work, Friends of Thunder: Folktales of the Oklahoma Cherokees. Teuton's new book reveals how Cherokee storytelling continues to evolve to reflect current events, while maintaining an unbroken to Cherokee prehistory. Forty stories are interwoven with biographical information about the four storytellers. The Cherokee language, both transliterated and in Sequoyah's syllabary, is used freely through the book. I had the distinct honor of illustrating the book, which tested my ability to visualize ancient Cherokees and their animal friends.

Cherokee author Daniel Heath Justice writes, "This will be a deeply treasured book for Cherokee individuals, families, and communities, as it shows beyond any doubt how rich, complex, and beautiful Cherokee oral and literary expressions continue to be in this chaotic world. It is easily one of the most important books on Cherokee worldview and tradition ever written."


Peter D. Tillman said...

Hi, AM

I wonder if you would consider donating a copy of this interesting-sounding book to the SFPL, which currently has zero works by you. A chance for a bit of self-promotion? Love your "Water Spider Steals Fire" illo!

Just finished "Crazy Brave" by Joy Harjo, which has an interesting account of her IAIA days -- and her rather grim childhood and YA days. Baby at 16! Check it out.

Cheers -- Pete Tillman
Your (currently inactive) Wikipal

ahalenia said...

That's a good idea — I'll look into it. Haven't read "Crazy Brave" but I will; I love Joy Harjo!

Melissa Melero said...

Thanks so much for sharing this project with us. Now I know what to get my Tribes' language department for christmas! To inspire and create.
I remember you working on these works in your studio. So cool!

Keep up the good work,

Melissa Melero