The Wampanoag Side of the First Thanksgiving Story


A good read and a different account of the usual Thanksgiving story we were raised to believe. Link: Article from Indian Country Today

And an interesting bit from Wikipedia:

Early contacts between the Wampanoag and Europeans date from the 16th century, when European merchant vessels and fishing boats traveled along the coast of present-day New England. Captains of merchant vessels captured Native Americans and sold them as slaves in order to increase their earnings. For example, Captain Thomas Hunt captured several Wampanoag in 1614. After his return to Europe, he sold them in Spain as slaves. A Patuxet named Tisquantum (or Squanto) was bought by Spanish monks, who attempted to convert him before eventually setting him free.

Tisquantum boarded an English ship to accompany an expedition to Newfoundland as an interpreter. From Newfoundland, he made his way back to his homeland in 1619, only to discover that the entire Patuxet tribe — and with them, his family — had fallen victim to an epidemic.

In 1620, religious refugees from England, known popularly as the Pilgrims, arrived in present-day Plymouth. Tisquantum and other Wampanoag taught the newly arrived settlers how to cultivate the varieties of corn, squash and beans (the Three Sisters) that flourished in New England, as well as how to catch and process fish and collect seafood. They enabled the English pilgrims to survive their first winters.

Thanksgiving to me is a day to celebrate family, enjoy good food, good company, laughter and the occasional football game. I LOVE to cook, and this year, I am up-ending the usual tradition. No one in our family likes turkey all that much, so I’m making a crispy baked chicken (light and dark pieces) and ham with all the fixings. Family members are also bringing some deliciousness with them! Can’t wait to try our son’s stuffing. He’s a real gourmet.

Happy Thanksgiving all!

It’s been a wild year for my family with ups and downs like we’ve never experienced before. I am thankful for my health (I am pain free at the moment and hope to stay that way), my family, my job, my book, my publisher and the country I live in, which is full of opportunity for those willing to invest the effort.

I hope for greater peace, and inclusion in our fractured world. Less pointing fingers. Less hateful words. An insistence on civility – a return to respectful interaction, and yes, even disagreement. More understanding and collaboration. LOVE.

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Video – Texas Book Festival Panel

The Texas Book Festival panel with Alexandra Díaz (fellow author) and Rita Painter (moderator) and the adorable kids from Galindo Elementary. Loved this experience, although I have to say I was aware of that dang little bug buzzing around our faces, but not aware of how much I waved my hand around trying to get rid of it!

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White Savior Figure?


This is the most comprehensive review of Evangelina Takes Flight to date. Thank you to reviewer Cris Rhodes for her thoughtful assessment. While there is much for me to smile about with this review (!), Ms. Rhodes has a critical review of what she calls the “white savior figure.”

Is the character of Dr. Russell Taylor a “white savior,” and do his actions make Evangelina less of a humanized figure? (This question will only make sense if you read the review.)

I have a ready explanation for why I wrote the Town Hall scene the way I did, and why Evangelina behaved as she did, but I won’t go there. I’d be interested in your perspective.

Again, thank you Ms. Rhodes for your comprehensive review. I will give the notion of a “white savior” some thought.


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Message of Acceptance and Hope

The photos above are some of my paternal ancestors:

  • Selim Njaim from Syria
  • Jesus Benavides Garcia from Mexico
  • Annabelle Crossley from England

Before Alexandra Díaz and I sat down for our panel discussion at the Texas Book Festival, Rita Painter, our moderator, asked us to reflect on this question: “What message are you trying to convey with your novel?” 

Not long before the panel started, I managed to peck out what came to mind on my IPhone Notes app. Luckily, I’d given it some thought before.

We are a great nation because of our diversity. All of us here are descendants of immigrants. My ancestors came to the US from Spain, Mexico, Syria and England (and many other countries the farther back in time you go). If my ancestors hadn’t made the brave decision to come to the United States, I would not be here today. And, if your ancestors hadn’t made the same brave decision, you wouldn’t either.

Through Evangelina Takes Flight, I want readers to get to know a Mexican family and feel as if they’re part of that family. I want readers who don’t know Mexican culture or people beyond the stereotypes to steep themselves in the beauty of it all – the love, the pride, the tradition and dedication to family and friends.

We cannot choose where we are born. In fact, our very existence is nothing more than a chance mixing of genetics. We CAN choose how we live our lives and how we treat each other.

The vast, vast majority of immigrants who come here simply want to be safe, have a chance to succeed and be treated fairly, the same thing each of our ancestors wanted when they arrived, hopeful for a better life. They, as Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed, want to be treated by the contents of their character.

Isn’t that what every human being wants?

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Thank You Texas Book Festival!

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I had an amazing time at the Texas Book Festival in Austin.

First, Austin is a way-cool city!

Second, my husband, mom, dad, brother and sister-in-law were all there to support me.

Third, I met some of the nicest, most supportive authors there – some very willing to share their tips for continued success in publishing.

Fourth, they SOLD OUT of my book!

Fifth and maybe best of all, I had the pleasure of meeting a bunch of smart, sweet students from Galindo Elementary who read Evangelina Takes Flight before the festival and introduced author Alexandra Diaz and me before our panel titled: Seeking Sanctuary.

The festival was bigger than I ever imagined and went off beautifully. Bravo to the festival sponsors and organizers and volunteers! I’ll go back again and again if they’ll have me.

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Join Me – Noche de Letras Lantinx Book Fest, Saturday, November 4

Noche de Letras 2017

As opposed to a book panel (which I’ll participate in on Sunday, November 5 at the Texas Book Festival), this will be a 45-minute presentation about my author’s journey – what inspired me to write Evangelina Takes Flight, the trials and tribulations of a first-time author and even a bit of history about the Mexican Revolution.

Saturday, November 4, 2 pm

Mexic-Arte Museum

419 Congress Avenue

Austin, TX

MexicArte Museum

What is Noche de Letras, Latinx Book Fest?

This event is a collaboration of more than 10 local organizations that aim to expand the celebration of the Texas Book Fair 2017, showcase Latinx writers, celebrate contemporary literature, present writing as a professional career, and strengthen bonds within local organizations that support literacy in the Latix community. On November 4th, 2017 we will showcase a book crawl for Latinx authors in various emblematic venues for the Latinx community in the city of Austin. The event is completely free in all venues.

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Punished for Speaking Spanish @ School

Funeral for the Spanish Language

Just last night I posted an interview (see below) I did with the Houston Public Radio station where I talked about a character in Evangelina Takes Flight who gets paddled for speaking Spanish on the playground. I said something to the effect of, “This was common in those times.” The year was 1911.

This NPR Story Corps article and interview covers the experience of 2 women in Marfa, Texas who experienced the same thing in the 1950s. Click on the photo to read more and listen to Jessi Silva and Maggie Marquez tell their story.


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