Last Thursday marked the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month, a month of acknowleding and celebrating the contributions of Hispanic/Latin/Latine people and cultures to the history and overall fabric of the United States of America. So, first off, wish to acknowledge that and encourage anyone reading this to go out and find Hispanic/Latine creatives and support their work, year round hopefully, but even more so at this time.
With that in mind, this post is, unsurprisingly, about a Hispanic work though perhaps not one that most would recognize as such. In truth, this “month” always seems to surprise people on who or what falls under the terms Hispanic and Latin and just how diverse the identities within these umbrella terms actually is. There are several historical reasons for this that I will not be discussing here, but there are several resources online, particularly promoted during this month, that go into far better and nuanced detail about the history of the terms and complicated aspects of said identities. So, while Calling For A Blanket Dance may appear to be a Native American (USA definition) book, it is also a Hispanic/Latin text.
Calling For A Blanket Dance is the debut novel of Oscar Hokeah, a citizen of Cherokee Nation and Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma (on his mother’s side) and a person of Mexican heritage (on his father’s side). This multicultural, multiracial identity can also be found within the background of the protagonist of the book and his interactions with both sides of his family. While this kind of complicated self identity might be odd or confusing for many, it is not surprising to those of use who grew up in places like Texas or Oklahoma, particularly the close to the southern border we may happen to be. There is a long history of intercultural and interracial exchange and unions, of all types, between the various peoples along the Southern border which again complicates and adds diversity to Hispanic and Latin identities and peoples.
Calling For A Blanket Dance tells the story of Ever Geimausaddle, a part Mexican and part Native American, trying his best to rise above his circumstances and make the best possible life and home for himself and his family. Each chapter is broken into a vignette relating Ever’s experience through the eyes of one of his relatives who witnessed some part of Ever’s past and gives insight and perspective into the events that impacted and made Ever the man he is for both good and ill.
For a book filled with less than stellar acts and choices, there are no real villains or even antagonists to be found within the pages. There are obviously bad or negative choices made by characters, but they are never quite villainized for them, or at the very least never for long. For the most part, the characters acknowledge, eventually, the part they play in what their lives have become, but also recognize that they are very much, unfortunately, victims of circumstances and powers and choices beyond their control. Ever and his family are basically trying to make the best of their circumstances while their lives continue on through the ebbs and flows of trauma and triumph whenever they come. There is a strength and resilience and eventual healing found in family and friends and culture and past within the pages of this book that I know will resonate with so many who read it.
Minority authors, particularly debut ones, have always had obstacles in the mainstream publishing field. Times are even tougher now for a myriad of reasons, so if you can, highly recommend picking this one up, leaving positive reviews, and simply sharing the book around. whenever you can. There are so many stories of all types to be found if you just take a little bit of time to look. I swear you won’t be disappointed by the effort.