Review: Tim Tingle at Indiana History Center 

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In From Boarding School to Alcatraz: The Clarence Carnes Story, Choctaw author/storyteller Tim Tingle interweaves strands of his family story with the surety of a master craftsman who figures we know the popular culture aspects of the 1945 "Battle of Alcatraz." While the warp of his great Uncle Clarence Carnes' exploits is based on the remembered facts of Carnes' childhood friend, Tingle's intricate design emerges from a poetic narrative of human foibles and most times the pattern is not so lovely to look at.

Clarence Victor Carnes, dubbed "The Choctaw Kid," at age 19 was the youngest person to be sentenced to Alcatraz. Tingle takes us on Carnes' journey from childhood at an Indian Boarding School to a life in contention with 'the law.' Born in 1927 in Oklahoma, Clarence Carnes was part of the generation the U.S. government targeted to 'beat the Indian out of.'

While not directly implicating the harsh, inhuman conditions of the school with Carnes' life-choices, Tingle shows how removal from positive family and Tribal values and having no real skills and nothing solid to hang onto could lead the charismatic, mentally challenged Carnes to get caught up in what seemed like an "easy way" to get by - steal.

Yet the point of Tingle's connecting us with the infamous part of his family is deeper than entertainment. Tingle wants us to think about the broader implications of our 'systems' and "speaking to the goodness in your heart." What now are we as a society still doing to create conditions Clarence Carnes faced; how are we categorizing and marginalizing people? You'll find Tim Tingle's roster of award-winning books at timtingle.com‎ - Rita Kohn

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  • Goodbye, Gunner
    Great article by Dan Wakefield about friendship. Thank you for sharing.

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