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‹ Cultivating Indigenous Voices

Ep. 26: Interconnected Stories

January 26, 2024
Cultivating Indigenous Voices
Cultivating Indigenous Voices
Ep. 26: Interconnected Stories
Photo of Gabriela Maya Bernadett, Author of “Stories My Grandmother Told Me.”

This episode features local book author Gabriela Maya Bernadett (Tohono O’odham/African American). In 2023 Maya published her first book titled, “Stories My Grandmother Told Me.” It is a recollection of stories told to Maya and her younger sister by their grandmother Esther Small-Poncho. Esther grew up in Harlem, New York with her family and it was the year 1949 when Esther saw a flyer posted at the local library in Harlem advertising a teacher’s position based in Arizona to teach Native American children. Maya’s descriptive storytelling tells specific details of different time periods her grandmother and ancestors lived through. She tells the story from her grandmother Esther’s perspectives and real life experiences growing up in the mid-1920s to present day. The book also details recollections of Maya’s ancestors who lived through slavery and the dangers that lurked during that time. Reading the book I also appreciated the vivid stories of old O’odham ways of living. Part of the story takes place at a school on the Tohono O’odham Nation, which is a Native reservation just west of Tucson/Three Points and one of the local tribes whose people have thrived on these lands throughout Southern Arizona and Northern Mexico since time immemorial. It was the same school I went to as an elementary kid in the 90s and is still in operation this present day. Also,  included in this episode is a short reading by author Gabriela Maya Bernadette, sharing parts of the first chapter and a recorded introduction by Esther Small-Poncho.

I love that the story created itself in my head, I could picture things, people, and places, because how well written the story is. In 2023 Maya had a book signing and reading; making it a local event. I don’t want to give away too much details, but just know this is a story that, “explores culture, race, and chosen family, set against the backdrop of the twentieth-century American Southwest.” What I enjoyed most about the book is how much I related to it and learning about a time period that was much different than today’s. The book is available online, in local libraries and in bookstores. I hope you enjoy reading the book when you get a copy, as well as listening to her story on this episode of a true story of true events about a multicultural journey from Harlem to Tohono O’odham.

Official announcement for teacher position as described by Esther Small-Poncho and detailed in the book by author Gabriela Maya Bernadett.
“Stories My Grandmother Told Me” book cover.


author,   book,   Cultivating Indigenous Voices,   gabriella maya bernadett,   stories my grandmother told me book,   Tohono O'odham,   tohono o'odham stories,  


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