Book Discussion Series Explores “Native American Mysteries”

The Leavenworth Public Library will offer a three-part book discussion series on the theme “Native American Mysteries.” Community members are invited to attend the free programs; however, registration is required to check out the books. To register, contact Cindy McGuire, Programming/Marketing Coordinator at 913-682-5666 ext. 5100, e-mail cmcguire@lvplks.org or register online.

The writers in this series created ingenious, fast-paced plots, integrating Native American history and culture, and crafting resourceful, intelligent protagonists who solve the mysteries, in part, because they are familiar with Native American life. The stories reflect the changing social, ethnic and political face of America. The authors write about a particular locale and represent its habits, speech, manners, folklore and religion.

The first discussion is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 19 at 7 p.m. Erin Pouppirt, an independent scholar, will lead a discussion of DreadfulWater Shows Up by Hartley Goodweather. Pouppirt received her M.A. in Psychology and Counseling from the University of Kansas. She joined the TALK program in 2008. 

The story revolves around Cherokee Thumps DreadfulWater, an ex-cop, who moved to a Montana reservation to shed memories of a killer who got away. Thumps serves as the town’s photographer, pursuing a relationship with Claire Merchant, head of the local tribal council. After a murder at the reservation’s casino, Claire’s son becomes a suspect, and Thumps reluctantly tracks the real killer.

The series continues with Dance Hall of the Dead by Tony Hillerman on Monday, Sept. 16 at 7 p.m. Two young boys suddenly disappear. One of them, a Zuni, leaves a pool of blood behind. Lt. Joe Leaphorn of the Navajo Tribal Police tracks the brutal killer. Three things complicate the search: an archeological dig, a steel hypodermic needle and the strange laws of the Zuni.

Leading the discussion of Hillerman’s book is Tom Prasch, chair of Washburn University’s history department. He received his Ph.D. in history from Indiana University. Prasch has been leading TALK discussion since 1999. 

The Ghost Walker by Margaret Coel is the final book in the series on Monday, Oct. 21 at 7 p.m. Trish Reeves, retired English instructor at Haskell Indian Nations University, leads the final discussion. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri, and an M.F.A. in creative writing from Warren Wilson College in North Carolina. Reeves has been leading TALK discussions since 1999.

Coel’s mystery begins when Father John O’Malley, head of the mission on the Wind River Reservation, discovers a body on a remote reservation road. When the police reach the scene, the corpse has disappeared. Arapahos believe the deceased is doomed to walk the earth, creating death and destruction until it receives a proper burial. And, indeed, that is what happens.

The series is sponsored by Humanities Kansas (HK), a nonprofit cultural organization, as part of its Talk About Literature in Kansas (TALK) program designed for every Kansan who loves to read and discuss good books. HK is furnishing the books and discussion leaders for the Leavenworth TALK series. For more information about HK, visit www.humanitieskansas.org.