Kiowa Children’s Books Boxed for Christmas Delivery
CHICKASHA – Five colorful Native storybooks are scheduled for special delivery in the form of a new box set – just in time for the holidays. On Dec. 20, “Winter Night Stories and Songs” will go on sale in the University of Science and Arts Bookstore.
Five years after the release of her first Kiowa language textbook, author Alecia “Sahmah” Gonzales is compiling her five Kiowa storybooks into one complete box set targeted for audiences of all ages and backgrounds. Grounded in her own Native roots, the stories are both educational and entertaining.
“The stories and songs were told and sung to the children by the grandparents nightly,” Gonzales said. “The babies were held by the grandparents while the other children sat or laid around the grandparents. These are models, values, moral conduct and traditions learned and enjoyed for the future.”
Gonzales, of Anadarko, said the preservation of language, culture and morals are the key components being taught through her storybooks. However, the underlying message of the books is clear.
“These storybooks are designed to build the bonds of love and trust between mother and child as they interact together,” Gonzales said.
Each storybook contains colorful, original drawings by Native artist Shaun Dae Chaddlesone.
The box set includes the children’s books “Little Red Buffalo Song,” “A Mother Bird’s Song” and “Song for Grandma.” Gonzales’ newest books, “Grandma Spider’s Song” and “The Prairie Dog Song,” both released in 2006, also accompany the set.
“All Kiowa mothers and grandmothers used to sing ‘Grandma’s Spider Song’ to newborns,” Gonzales said. “The rhythm of the song is like a heartbeat, so it calms them down; they usually go to sleep. It’s a song we sing to comfort the baby and let it know it’s in safety.”
Gonzales teaches Kiowa language classes at USAO, where she approaches the Kiowa language from a “bicultural” viewpoint using two distinctly different languages: Kiowa and English. She also teaches at Anadarko High School.
A woman of Kiowa and Apache descent, Gonzales was born in Fort Cobb. At birth, she was given her Kiowa name “Sahmah,” which means, “the lady from the North.”
Readers see the bilingual stories in both Kiowa and English, shown parallel to one another on the page. For non-Native speakers, a special CD-ROM is included that features the author reading the story in both languages.
Printed by USAO Printing Services, the box set will be available starting Dec. 20 for $125 at the USAO Bookstore on the corner of 17th Street and Alabama in Chickasha. The Bookstore will handle shipping, too.
The five storybooks have been redesigned with special UV-transparent paper introduction pages and a Native parfleche painting on the gift box. Each limited edition box set is individually autographed by the author and numbered 1-250.
Since her successful release of her first book, “Thaum Khoiye Tdoen Gyah – Beginning Kiowa Language,” in 2001, Gonzales has been honored nationally for her extensive knowledge of her Kiowa heritage. Her first book was praised as America’s first textbook for preserving and sharing the Kiowa language.
Known for her lifelong devotion to teaching and preserving the Kiowa language, Gonzales was named to the USAO Alumni Hall of Fame in 2005.
After the death of her parents and other elders, Gonzales said she realized the language would die without a systematic, written method of teaching it.
“I was nurtured by my grandparents into education,” Gonazales said. “They believed deeply in the value of education, especially the tribal form of education. This was the seed from which we’ve grown today’s high-tech preservation of language. Today we publish a CD that helps people learn to hear and speak the language.”
More information about purchasing the box set is available from the USAO Bookstore at (405) 574-1304.