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Archived Reading Groups

All but the last two years of book club groups at Texas Tech University Library

Even As We Breathe

even as we breathe book cover. in a light pine green cover, with a few tall pine trees.Please join the University Libraries' Great Reads Book Series honoring Indigenous Peoples Month, Even As We Breathe, by Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle. We will be hosting via Zoom and in-person in room 309 at the University Library.

First 20 people to sign up get a free copy of the book.




Nov 1, 8, 15 (Tuesdays) 2022, 5:30-7pm

Click here for Zoom registration.

Nineteen-year-old Cowney Sequoyah yearns to escape his hometown of Cherokee, North Carolina, in the heart of the Smoky Mountains. When a summer job at Asheville's luxurious Grove Park Inn and Resort brings him one step closer to escaping the hills that both cradle and suffocate him, he sees it as an opportunity. With World War II raging in Europe, the inn is the temporary home of Axis diplomats and their families, who are being held as prisoners of war. Soon, Cowney's refuge becomes a cage when the daughter of one of the residents goes missing and he finds himself accused of abduction and murder.

Even As We Breathe
invokes the elements of bone, blood, and flesh as Cowney navigates difficult social, cultural, and ethnic divides. After leaving the seclusion of the Cherokee reservation, he is able to explore a future free from the consequences of his family's choices and to construct a new worldview, for a time. However, prejudice and persecution in the white world of the resort eventually compel Cowney to free himself from larger forces that hold him back as he struggles to unearth evidence of his innocence and clear his name.

Book Discussion Questions ( )

  1. Near the beginning of the novel, Cowney Sequoyah says, “Bones can teach.” What is the significance of bones in the story? What lessons do the bones teach?
  2. Cowney says, “For once in their lives, those Japanese Americans must have wished they were just Japanese in America.” Considering the experiences of Japanese Americans and prisoners of war, in what ways did the war challenge democratic traditions?
  3. How do you think Cowney feels about Cherokee, NC, his heritage, and his personal history? Does this change over the course of the novel?
  4. What is the importance of both physical and metaphoric boundaries in the novel? • How does the novel explore the intersection of class and race for the Eastern Band of the Cherokee, residents of Asheville, and upper-class foreign diplomats in the story?
  5. In both world wars, Native Americans, African Americans, and Latinos joined the U.S. Army to fight. In what ways were they fighting for democracy on and off the battlefield?
  6. At the end of the book, Cowney and Lee go to town to see the Charlie Chaplin film The Great Dictator. Why does the film appeal to Cowney? How does the speech in the film more broadly relate to the book?

November 1 Speakers Information

Janis L Henderson, Ph.D. (J. Henderson Education Services) provides educational enrichments and consultation services. Her work is grounded in an evidence driven, protective strengths, and trauma informed approach. A citizen of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, she is an active advocate for issues related to Native people and communities, offering related speaking and consultation services. Additionally, Janis is active in criminal justice reform work, including re-entry processes. Janis is a member of the Community Family Life Services Speakers Bureau (Washington, D.C.).



Parker Duff is a student at Sul Ross State University completing a Master of Liberal Arts. His focus is on Indigenous Sovereignty. His studies focus on the interactions between the Justice system and tribal rights. He completed his undergraduate degree in at Centenary College of Louisiana in 2014. He is also a citizen of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. He looks forward to working in the indigenous community advancing sovereignty and justice. When not studying he likes to read, listen to podcasts, and hang out with his cat Milo.

November 8 Speaker Information

Victoria Sutton, MPA, PhD, JD is the Distinguished Horn Professor and Associate Dean for Digital Learning and Graduate Education at Texas Tech University School of Law. She is a member of the Lumbee Indian Tribe of North Carolina. Prof. Sutton is a founding Member of the National Congress of American Indians, Policy Advisory Board, serving since 2005. She has taught Indigenous Justice, American Indian Law, Environmental Law. International Environmental Law and Constitutional Law as well as courses related to Native American culture and law in the TTU Anthropology and Archaeology Department.

She served as the Native American students association advisor at Texas Tech University and at Yale University during her visitorship. She currently serves on the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee of TTULaw and leads the TTU Indigenous & Native American Circle on developing a certificate program for graduates and undergraduates. In the professional academic society, the American Association of Law Schools, she served as the national committee Chair of the Indigenous and Native American Law Committee.

November 15 Speaker Information

Kenneth Castillo graduated from Texas Tech in 2006 with a degree in history. Since he was a sophomore at Tech he has been a volunteer, advocate, board member and as of 2016, employee of Voice of Hope, the Lubbock Rape Crisis Center as their primary prevention specialist. He also serves on the board of East Lubbock Art House and East Lubbock Optimist Club. He is currently the mentor chair of the 100 Black Men of West Texas. To Kenneth, Food is culture, everything about it, it’s capture, cultivation, preparation and consumption represents culture.

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