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Charis welcomes Leah Myers in conversation with Kung Li Sun for a discussion of Thinning Blood: A Memoir of Family, Myth, and Identity. A vibrant new voice blends Native folklore and the search for identity in a fierce debut work of personal history.
Leah Myers may be the last member of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe in her family line, due to her tribe’s strict blood quantum laws. In this unflinching and intimate memoir, Myers excavates the stories of four generations of women in order to leave a record of her family. Beginning with her great-grandmother, the last full-blooded Native member in their lineage, she connects each woman with her totem to construct her family’s totem pole: protective Bear, defiant Salmon, compassionate Hummingbird, and perched on top, Raven.
As she pieces together their stories, Myers weaves in tribal folktales, the history of the Native genocide, and Native mythology. Throughout, she tells the larger story of how, as she puts it, her “culture is being bleached out,” offering sharp vignettes of her own life between White and Native worlds: her naive childhood love for Pocahontas, her struggles with the Klallam language, the violence she faced at the hands of a close White friend as a teenager.
Crisp and powerful, Thinning Blood is at once a bold reclamation of one woman’s identity and a searingly honest meditation on heritage, family, and what it means to belong.
Leah Myers received an MFA in creative nonfiction from the University of New Orleans, where she won the Samuel Mockbee Award for Nonfiction two years in a row. She now lives in Alabama, with roots in Georgia, Arizona, and Washington.
Kung Li Sun (s/he/they) is a lifelong southerner currently based on the Gulf Coast. As a public interest attorney in Atlanta, she brought class-action lawsuits on behalf of people in prisons and jails. He left lawyering to support undocumented and abolitionist organizers as a strategist and trainer and to write. Begin the World Over is their first book.
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Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2023 by The Millions
A vibrant new voice blends Native folklore and the search for identity in a fierce debut work of personal history.
"This historical fiction with a twist has an intriguing plot that will make the reader ask how the world could be different."
A revolutionary tale of Black and Indigenous insurrection. History as it should have been.