Our Story Nihahane
by Della Toadlena
Trafford Publishing

"My dear children and grandchildren: I write this story for you, so you will know where you came from as Naashgali Dine'e, and where you have been."

Our Story is a compilation of Della Toadlena's memories growing up in Arizona. An ancestor of an Apache, she was one of ten children in a one-room mud hut on a reservation. She was sent far away to boarding schools, thanks to the US government, where she experienced her first contact with foreigners (i.e. white people). After high school, despite being denied further education through the Tribal Council, she forged ahead on her own to become the first person in her family to graduate from college.

This amazing story has the feel of a campfire tale, as Toadlena starts off heading down one path, remembers something else, and stops to digress. Her conversational style pulls the reader in close (sometimes, admittedly too close, as when she assumes the reader holds knowledge of a native word or a particular relative, or when she writes pithy statements one would expect from a New Year's letter—Good going, Steph!) In fact, her grandmotherly meanderings (from first pets to memorable illnesses) are frustrating until one remembers the opening sentence of her book: "My dear children and grandchildren, I write this story for you."

On the whole, Toadlena's success story is heart-warming and includes many cultural tidbits, such as first menses ceremonies, healing ceremonies, and festival clowns able to predict future pregnancies. Her stories of sheep herders, rodeos, buggy rides, and dancing around bonfires offer the reader a peek into Native American Indian life during the last half a century.

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