“What tribe are you?” A humorous commentary

Tim Tingle  and I at the 2004 Oklahoma Book Awards. The title of my book was As Brown As I Want: The Indianhead Diaries. Tim’s book was Walking the Choctaw Road.

“What tribe are you?”
Janelle Meraz Hooper

Janelle Meraz Hooper

Mother’s Day is coming up. I’ve been thinking about my mom…we were very close. The kind of close that develops between two people who have survived living with a man who was meaner than a rattlesnake and dumber than adobe (from A Three-Turtle Summer). Living in Oklahoma, my mother and I had a lot of Native American friends who invited us to their powwows. All the time, kids would ask me, “What tribe are you from?” I didn’t know what to say. We were Hispanic! One day I asked my mom about it. She never blinked an eye and said, “We’re from the Aztec tribe.” At 7-years-old it was a good enough explanation for me and I skated by on that answer all summer.

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As Brown As I Want: The Indianhead Diaries, novel, #2 in my Turtle Trilogy


As Brown As I Want: The Indianhead Diaries
The Adventures of Little Paintbrush and Snake Belt

Janelle Meraz Hooper
My website: Janelle Meraz Hooper

See the book on Amazon

A black comedy-

The summer of 1952, Lawton, Oklahoma… Eight-year-old Glory has a father who has taken out a $50,000 accidental-death insurance policy on her–now he’s spending the summer trying to collect.

In his first attempt, he throws Glory into a snake-infested lake, but a giant snapping turtle that Glory has been feeding scares the snakes away.

Glory writes in her diary: “Well, Powwow Pete drove us home to talk to Mom but we didn’t get very far. Mom thinks I just have a wild imagination. At least Powwow Pete believes me. I think it was the turtle that killed it for Mom.

“How could there be a turtle that big?” she scoffed. They talked some more and Powwow Pete got kind of mad and got up to leave.

This was one of those times when a kid thinks they’re talking about a turtle but the grown-ups are really talking about something else entirely. In this case, I think Pete was accusing Mom of still loving my dad, but he never said that, he just kept talking about the turtle. Mom was doing the same thing: talking about the turtle but meaning she didn’t want to get messed up with some guy who was a pathology liar (Glory can’t spell).

Read the book- Paperback and Kindle. Amazon and other Internet bookstores. Suitable for all ages, YA (Young Adult & up).


1999 Surrey, BC, 1st place fiction award.

2004 Oklahoma Book Awards finalist.

NEXT IN MY TRILOGY: Glory is all grown up in Custer & His Naked Ladies

Books in order:

A Three-Turtle Summer

As Brown As I Want: The Indianhead Diaries

Custer & His Naked Ladies


“Hilarious!” an Oklahoma reader

“I love your second book. You have masterfully written in a style befitting a child, so fresh and natural, handling a very serious subject in a way to  make reading easy, even if it makes one’s heart thump.” Elfi Hornby, author.

“I read your book, As Brown As I Want. I thought the book was so good. I couldn’t stop reading and I got into trouble for reading it in class because I just couldn’t put it down.” Valerie, a student.

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Custer & His Naked Ladies. #3 in the Turtle Trilogy

finalcustercoverSee the book on Amazon

A modern-day Western novel…
See the book on my website: Janelle Meraz Hooper

PB & Kindle, suitable for New Adult (NA) and up. Amazon and others.

Published by iUniverse.

A few lines from Custer & His Naked Ladies, the third book in my Turtle Trilogy. Glory, all grown up now, lives in Seattle and has unexpectedly been left by her husband. She’s on a commuter plane between Ft. Worth and Lawton—on her way home to see her family…while she’s looking out the plane’s window, she ponders the past… 

Glory looked down at the barren landscape, after recognizing the pain and suffering of the settlers a part of her switched sides…A good example was Cynthia Ann Parker, a settler’s child who was kidnapped by Comanches in 1836 when she was nine-years-old, and later became the mother of Quanah Parker, who grew up to be a great Comanche chief. As a child, she must have been terrified when the Comanches carried her away but years later, when she was “rescued” by the white man, she didn’t want to return to the white settlement. She had become a Comanche heart and soul. She died of a broken heart when she was separated from her Indian family. Why couldn’t they just leave her alone?

Glory had read the stories about the Indian cruelty to the settlers, but little was said about the whites, like Cynthia Ann Parker, who had embraced the Indian way of life.
Still, the pain and suffering of the settlers couldn’t be ignored. Glory couldn’t imagine how she could survive if she were a mother whose child had been ripped away from her and carried off by a band of screaming Indians. Many of them never saw or heard from their child again. They must have spent the rest of their days wondering if it were alive or dead.

Glory looked down at the barren landscape. A part of her switched sides. So, you couldn’t wait to get rid of the Indians and get our land. What have you done with it? Nothing! Except maybe pollute it. Give it back! Glory tried to imagine the plains once again filled with buffalo and other game. Peaceful Indian villages would nestle next to the creeks…yeah, Glory interrupted herself, until a neighboring tribe came and set their teepees on fire…okay…so not all of the Indians’ troubles were caused by the white man.

The drink cart began to move down the aisle. A gray-haired woman on the other side of the plane leaned over the arm of her chair and softly asked Glory, “Pardon me, but I’m from New Jersey and I’m wondering if you’re a real Indian?”

“Funny you should ask. I’m going back home to try and figure that out!”

The woman didn’t know if Glory was being funny or rude. Why shouldn’t she be confused? She was!

“No, really,” Glory continued, “I was part-white and part-Mexican when my mother got remarried to a Comanche Indian when I was eight-years-old. I’m not really sure what I am!”

“I see. Perhaps you should convert to Judaism like me. Then your confusion would be complete.” She looked out her window, “We did our share of wandering in the desert. Of course, we didn’t have RVs,” she joked. Her eyes followed a caravan of recreational vehicles as they moved down the road, red dust billowing behind them.

“That’s not a bad idea. The only problem is I don’t think all of those cultures would fit on my sweatshirt.”

The stewardess came around with cold drinks and the woman struck up a conversation with her.

“Do you have any kosher Coke?” she teased.

“No Ma’am, but I have some kosher Pepsi.”

“That’ll do.”

Custer & His Naked Ladies. Book 3 of the Turtle Trilogy. Paperback and Kindle (etc.). Suitable for New-Adult and up. Published by iUniverse.


 “Janelle  Meraz Hooper has done it again! Custer & His Naked Ladies is filled with quirky and likable characters in a richly detailed setting. Humor, family, and love come shining through. There is a poignant line in the book that has stayed with me, “Old age had crept in and stolen their bodies while they were dancing through life…” These women have danced! VF Gibson, Seattle, WA

“I purchased Custer & His Naked Ladies at your booth on July 4th in Steilacoom and promised I’d let you know what I thought of it. After I finished it my husband decided to read it (We had both enjoyed A Three-Turtle Summer a few years ago)  so I waited to hear his comments. We thoroughly enjoyed the book. We both agreed that you are excellent at spinning a yarn and at painting a verbal picture of people and places. You can quote us on that! P.R., Tacoma

“I just finished reading your book “Custer & His Naked Ladies LOOOOVE it, excellent writing and story. It gave me a nice inside view of the wonderful culture of our American Indians. Good job, Janelle S.Z., Puyallup, WA

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A few lines from As Brown As I Want: The Indianhead Diaries

browncover-pix3from Walt this oneAs Brown As I Want: The Indianhead Diaries
The Adventures of Little Paintbrush and Snake Belt

My website: Janelle Meraz Hooper

See:  As Brown As I Want on Amazon

A few lines from As Brown As I Want: The Indianhead Diaries: The 2nd book in my Turtle Trilogy. Participant in the 2004 Oklahoma Book Awards. Published by iUniverse.

A fictional autobiography/black comedy about a little girl straddling two worlds between a murderous white father and a Hispanic family who loves powwows…

…Ruth, one of Mom’s Comanche friends, has invited us to a big powwow where they put up tepees and camp out for days. Mom says we’ll all go for one night and sleep in Ruth’s mom’s tepee. We can’t stay longer because Mom has some shirts to finish for a band down in Texas. Besides, at powwows, she has to pass for Indian.

       She only knows one Indian word Ruth taught her that’s supposed to fit in anywhere, but Mom says she starts to feel uncomfortable after the thirty-second “Huh!”

       Carlos and I think that’s real funny because Mom says “Huh?” all the time anyway because she can’t hear. Carlos and I don’t know any Indian words, so we’re not supposed to talk to any grownup Indians at the powwow.

       We’ve been going to these powwows for years, since Mom is such good friends with Ruth and her mother, Mildred. Sometimes, we’ll be out driving in the country in Mildred’s old Hudson when another car will pass us in a cloud of red dust. When they realize they’ve passed Mildred, they’ll slam on the brakes and spin around right in the middle of the road to chase us down and tell us there’s a powwow somewhere or other. Lots of times, we’ve left for the dance right from that very spot. When you’re with Mildred, you never know where you’ll end up but, wherever it is, you know it’ll be fun, and if Mildred’s cooking, you know you’ll eat well. She always carries a couple of wrought iron skillets in the trunk of her car, in case someone gets hungry...

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