Friday, September 9, 2016

Pukawiss the Outcast - A Teen Explores Their Previously-Hidden-From-Them Native Heritage, and their Two-Spirit Sense Of Self

Pukawiss the Outcast by Jay Jordan Hawke

The Two-spirit Chronicles: Book One

When family complications take Joshua away from his fundamentalist Christian mother and leave him with his grandfather, he finds himself immersed in a mysterious and magical world. Joshua’s grandfather is a Wisconsin Ojibwe Indian who, along with an array of quirky characters, runs a recreated sixteenth-century village for the tourists who visit the reservation. Joshua’s mother kept him from his Ojibwe heritage, so living on the reservation is liberating for him. The more he learns about Ojibwe traditions, the more he feels at home.

One Ojibwe legend in particular captivates him. Pukawiss was a powerful manitou known for introducing dance to his people, and his nontraditional lifestyle inspires Joshua to embrace both his burgeoning sexuality and his status as an outcast. Ultimately, Joshua summons the courage necessary to reject his strict upbringing and to accept the mysterious path set before him.
I loved this quote from the author:

"Pukawiss the Outcast celebrates a very common Native American tradition that venerates gay people. It may seem like the whole world, and all of history, is against you. But that simply is not true. Imagine living in a world where as a gay person you are considered something extra special—that you are in fact touched by God. That’s a radically different world from the one most gay teens grow up in today. I want people to see what that is like through the eyes of my teen protagonist."

There are two more books in the series,

In the months following the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard, fourteen-year-old Joshua, a half Native American boy, is new to a Boy Scout troop and spending a week camping in northern Wisconsin. The weaker kids in the troop soon realize Joshua is not afraid to stand up to the troop's ruthless bullies. Joshua’s bravery and kindness is infectious, and the bullied Scouts quickly find their own inner strength.

Joshua, however, is plagued by self-doubt as he realizes he has feelings for Cody, the son of the troop’s harsh and puritanical Scoutmaster. The two discover they have more in common than Scouting as they share their deepest secrets and develop a close friendship. That friendship faces its greatest challenge as the homophobic bullies claim a “faggot” has “infected” their troop. As if struggling to come to terms with his sexuality while dealing with hatred and bigotry isn’t enough, Joshua discovers the camp holds another dark mystery, one that will make him summon all his courage and learn for the first time what it truly means to be brave.


Love can mean sacrifice. Joshua Ishkoday must decide if he can abandon the boy he loves in order to save him.

In the expansive and sometimes deadly northwoods of Wisconsin, Joshua must make a heartbreaking choice as he battles his greatest fears. His best friends, Mokwa and Little Deer, accompany him when a nightmare sends him on an adventure of self-discovery. But the three teenagers aren’t alone in the vast forest. Joshua realizes bizarre creatures called Memegwesi have not only been manipulating him through his dreams, but plan to use him in a mysterious plan of their own. Soon he’s fighting three enemies: the lethal storm headed their way, the mysterious beings appearing in his dreams, and most frightening of all, his mother’s hatred and bigotry.

"Pukawiss the Outcast" was a finalist for the 2015 Lambda Literary Award for LGBT Children's and YA literature. Add your review of any or all of these three books in the Two Spirit Chronicles in comments!

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