By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News
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■ “I watched John Pritchard III touch the pages that contained his writing, and the smile on his face made me cry.
■ “Peninsula College using this as part of their English curriculum next quarter.
■ “Having control over how this book would come about.
■ “Being able to tell a writer we used ALL their submissions because we can.
■ “Having contributions from as far away as an Athabaskan from Tanana, Alaska.”
Tribal Voices: Echo presents the work of 17 writers, including Parker and other members of the Indian Voices group formed years ago at Peninsula College.
Four will join together for a reading this Thursday, and they invite the public to hear their voices at 12:35 p.m. in the Little Theater on the campus at 1502 E. Lauridsen Blvd. Admission is free, and more details can be found at www.PenCol.edu.
The aforementioned Pritchard, with his fellow Makahs Zak Greene, Paul R. Parker Jr. and Brandan McCarty, are set to offer their poems and stories from the Echo collection of words about love, anger, birds, rivers, technological devices and numerous other topics.
The book also collects verse and prose from Lower Elwha Klallam tribal members Suzie Bennett, Brenda Francis and Dee Koester; Makahs Reggie, Meredith Parker, Tor Parker, Rachel Parker and Jon Heilman; and Coeur d’Alene tribal member Christopher Thomas. Quileute-Makah Joseph William Penn, Alaskan Athabaskan Mary Kate Dennis, Skokomish-Elwha Klallam Patti Miller and Muckleshoot-Elwha Klallam Juanita Edwards complete the list.
Tribal Voices: Echo is available at Lower Elwha Gallery & Gift, 401 E. First St.; the Makah Research & Cultural Center in Neah Bay; and via Tor Parker herself at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Variety of voices
In the book’s introduction, Parker writes of the 17 voices: “We are hip, we are warriors, mothers, tribal managers, dancers, fishermen, artists, cooks, canoe makers, and we are all writers with something to say. I wanted us to be heard, and to echo for generations to come.”
The Echo title sounded right for another reason: It was Parker’s father’s nickname.
At the front of the book, she thanks him “for showing me what it is to give of oneself . . . for always asking me, ‘Do you want to just do it, or do you want to do it right?’”
Parker’s father, Ernie Cheeka, is gone now. But he was alive when she was awarded a grant from the Potlatch Fund, a foundation supporting Native community endeavors. The grant helped publish the book.
“I wanted modern stories told from writers all over the United States,” Parker said.
“I opened the invitation to anyone and everyone, and did not tell anyone they were not good enough to be published.
“Some had few words; others had more to say. Either way, what was said always had impact.
“This all brings me back to my grandchildren. I want this to be here for them when I am gone,” Parker added.
On Page 3 of Echo, she dedicates it all to her grandson, Cameron Nathan.
“Nothing we do is about us, nor should it be,” Parker said.
“It is about what I will leave behind.”
Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5062, or at email@example.com.