Rain Is Not My Indian Name: My Not So Secret Secret Identity

Quick Questions

  1. Why did Mom first leave Oklahoma?
  2. How long has it been since Rain’s mom died?
  3. How much is Rain’s weekly allowance?
  4. Who cruises by the house, whistling at Fynn?
  5. What does Fynn do for a living?
  6. What does Aunt Georgia give to Rain?
  7. What color has Aunt Georgia dyed her hair?
  8. What does Rain do when she is reminded that it’s almost the Fourth of July?

For Book Talks Or Your Journal

tear dress

Pulaski, Tennessee, USA – June 23. 2017: Statue commemorating the ordeal of native American Indian tribes at the Trail of Tears Memorial and Museum in Pulaksi.

Rain’s mom’s tear dress is hanging in the master bedroom. The name “tear dress” is usually attributed to the fact that the cotton for the dresses was torn; however, many people also attribute the name to the Trail of Tears (the forced removal of Southeastern Native people from our ancestral homelands to Indian Territory, now Oklahoma) to the dress being worn in commemoration of this tragic historical event. Some of Rain’s ancestors were Muscogee Creeks and Cherokees who lived through this difficult time of transition.

corporate makeover

Rain writes: “Lately, my brother had seemed like a different guy. In the past couple of months, he’d gotten a Jayhawk tattoo on his shoulder and then gone corporate. Good-bye shoulder-length locks, 501s, and marathon T-shirts. Hello corporate haircut, pinstripes, and fancy neckties. I wasn’t sure why.” What do you think was responsible for Fynn’s makeover?

Fynn’s campaign

Fynn is gently pushing Rain to participate in Aunt Georgia’s Native summer youth program. Rain mentions that other than that suggestion, everyone has left her pretty much alone.

Why would Fynn break that pattern now?

Why is this in particular so important to him?

lemon fresh

Why has Rain been spending so much time at home, cleaning?

Aunt Georgia

What is your first impression of Aunt Georgia? What clues in the narration have helped frame your opinion of her?

Author Insights

In earlier drafts of the story, Grampa Berghoff and Dad do not appear through phone calls or postcards. In fact, Grampa Berghoff didn’t even live in the house although his home was just around the block.

I was interested in Rain and Fynn’s sibling relationship, how they would cope and interact without more adult supervision (though Fynn is an adult, he’s barely out of college), and I envisioned Grampa Berghoff, Uncle Ed, and Aunt Georgia all playing an active role in the household whether it was their full-time home base or not.

However, my editor urged me to consider moving Grampa in, and that ultimately felt like the best way to go. The non-traditional family structure is still there, but Grampa’s role somehow seems bigger, both onsite and as Rain’s photography mentor.

Something I’d noticed in the body of children’s literature with bicultural Native figures is that their elders were almost always exclusively from the Native  side of their family (and Yoda-like wise). Including both Grampa Berghoff and Aunt Georgia in the cast brought Rain out of the much explored “caught between two worlds” scenario often envisioned with Native characters. Instead, her daily life is fully integrated from the elders on down.