After a Long and Painful Absence, Writing Her Way Home Again

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She now laughs when she tells that story, although the tendency to both fetishize and misunderstand Native American culture continues to persist in depressingly familiar ways. This is one reason why the Kiowa-Cherokee novelist Oscar Hokeah, who gained wide acclaim for his debut novel “Calling for a Blanket Dance” in 2022, believes it is necessary to bring books like “Council” into the public consciousness, even in an era of increased awareness and visibility.

Hokeah commented, “Mona portrays Native people in a very modern, contemporary, and honest way. Sometimes, when readers only want to see our powwows or ceremonies, it can be reductive. While those are positive things, it can also contribute to erasure. We don’t want to be seen solely as victims, but we also don’t want to be seen as mythical creatures either.”

Rachel Kahan, Power’s editor, also recognizes a different, more passive form of prejudice at work. She explains, “Often in the literary and entertainment world, there is a preoccupation with the new, the groundbreaking, and the vanguard, and sometimes this comes at the expense of writers who produce their best work later in life. Mona has created an amazing piece of art out of all the things that have happened to her, with an incredible perspective that a younger writer may not have.”

Despite the book’s harrowing depictions of heartache and deprivation, it is also filled with hard-earned grace that culminate with Power’s own character, Sissy, entering grateful middle age. Power explains, “This story is very much about healing. Healing is a process that is never complete, but you can make significant leaps. I am now in a place I never thought possible—much healthier, happier, and more stable. After losing decades, life is starting all over again.”

In conclusion, Power’s book “Council” serves as a reminder of the ongoing need to dismantle the stereotypes and misconceptions surrounding Native American culture. By portraying Native people in a modern, contemporary, and honest way, Power challenges readers to see beyond the limited portrayals and to recognize the complexity and diversity within Native American communities. Furthermore, by highlighting the experiences and perspectives of older writers, Power’s work counters the tendency to prioritize youth in the literary world and demonstrates the value that can come from a lifetime of experiences and reflections. Ultimately, “Council” is a testament to the power of storytelling and the potential for healing and transformation that can arise from sharing one’s truth.

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