Displacement, Identity & Resilience

Sep 9, 2019

Credit Wikimedia Commons

Hello, welcome to High Plains Public Radio, this is Freddy Gipp, I’m an enrolled member of the Apache Tribe of Oklahoma and my indian name is “T’sa(N) T’hoop Ah(N)”, meaning Lead Horse in the Kiowa language.

I was born and raised in Lawrence, Kansas, where I graduated from the University of Kansas in 2016 with a degree in Strategic Communications from the William Allen White School of Journalism.

I currently run my own small consulting firm called Lead Horse LLC, which focuses on utilizing Native American Powwow celebrations as an effective economic driver for urban and rural communities.

I will be your book discussion leader for the 2018 National Book Award Finalist, “Where The Dead Sit Talking” by Cherokee author - Brandon Hobson.

Set in rural Oklahoma in the winter of 1989, the story centers around a young Native American boy named Sequoyah, who reflects back about his life the very moment he witnessed his beloved friend, Rosemary, commit suicide.

A tale of displacement, identity, death, uncertainty and resilience- we follow Sequoyah around as he traverses, like his Cherokee ancestors once did, in search of his true meaning and purpose in this life.

Dealt with an unfortunate hand, Sequoyah, at a very young age, was introduced to an unstable life due to his mother’s inability to remain sober, often caring for her when she came back home sick and hungover after a long night of partying.

As Sequoyah’s mother constantly found herself in between jobs and abusive relationships with her boyfriends, her recklessness permanently scares Sequoyah literally and figuratively when he is taken from her by the state and put into the foster care system when she is incarcerated for possession of drug paraphernalia while driving under the influence.

We follow Sequoyah, after struggling to fit in many foster homes, finally settled with an elderly couple named Harold and Agnes Troutt, in Little Crow, with their two other foster children, Rosemary and George through the help of his caring social worker and friend, Liz.

Most commonly referred to as a “coming-of-age” story. “Where The Dead Sit Talking” focuses on an in-depth realization about Native American youth facing intergenerational trauma brought to them by their families and surrounding circumstances that suffocates any and all recreation of themselves to break through this systematic barrier.   

Hobson’s novel is more than just about a boy mending through both of his internal and external problems and finding resolve through wandering around late at night to often desolate and dangerous places.

It’s about how the future of our culture, lost through a broken system, that continues to struggle by maintaining its identity every day just to ensure that our voice is heard, acknowledged and reciprocated.

Sequoyah’s journey is in imperative to many other young Native Americans who are dislocated, lost and uncertain about themselves and their purpose in life, often questioning their existence or worse, committing suicide.

A people, once connected to the land that they roamed freely upon, now subjected to the rules and regulations of an oppressive government for over 200 years that has led to the complete loss and destruction of tribal lands, cultures, languages and traditions, leaving many without an identity.

As we dive deeper and focus on themes such as identity, death, and resilience, Join us while we follow Sequoyah throughout his journey in “Where The Dead Sit Talking” by Brandon Hobson.

This is Freddy Gipp and you are listening to High Plains Public Radio