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Traci Sorell (The Children's Book Podcast #574)

Updated: Mar 10, 2020

This is a dedication to the life and light of Charlene Willing McManis, and the story she told the world. Traci Sorell (@tracisorell) joins me to share INDIAN NO MORE, a debut middle grade novel by the late Charlene Willing McManis with Traci Sorell. Charlene poured a lot of life and a lot of history we don’t get taught in schools into the writing of her debut novel. The result is an unforgettable protagonist named Regina Petit who has always been Umpqua and has always lived with her family on the Grand Ronde Tribe’s reservation. Following true events, the federal government enacts a law determining that it will no longer acknowledge the existence of the Umpqua or several other tribes on this land. Regina’s family moves to Los Angeles as part of the federal Indian Relocation Program and the family attempts to start life anew amid the backdrop of the Civil Rights era. I reference in our conversation an outstanding review of INDIAN NO MORE on the blog Indigo’s Bookshelf by a 13 year old member of the Children of the Glades group of Seminole and Miccosukee teens and I’ve linked that review in the show notes for this episode. Hearing how this author processed this book profoundly affected the way I read it. And I loved reading this book.

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Regina Petit's family has always been Umpqua, and living on the Grand Ronde Tribe's reservation is all ten-year-old Regina has ever known. Her biggest worry is that Sasquatch may actually exist out in the forest. But when the federal government enacts a law that says Regina's tribe no longer exists, Regina becomes Indian no more overnight--even though she lives with her tribe and practices tribal customs, and even though her ancestors were Indian for countless generations.

Now that they've been forced from their homeland, Regina's father signs the family up for the federal Indian Relocation Program and moves them to Los Angeles. Regina finds a whole new world in her neighborhood on 58th Place. She's never met kids of other races, and they've never met a real Indian. For the first time in her life, Regina comes face to face with the viciousness of racism, personally and toward her new friends.

Meanwhile, her father believes that if he works hard, their family will be treated just like white Americans. But it's not that easy. It's 1957 during the Civil Rights era, and the family struggles without their tribal community and land. At least Regina has her grandmother, Chich, and her stories. At least they are all together.

In this moving middle-grade novel drawing upon Umpqua author Charlene Willing McManis's own tribal history, Regina must find out: Who is Regina Petit? Is she Indian, American, or both? And will she and her family ever be okay?


Traci Sorell (website)


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