Culture

Osage publishes children’s book, ‘Frybread for Addie’

After four years, Mindy Standley’s idea of publishing an Osage book has become a reality.

Standley (Osage) published an Osage children’s book titled, “Frybread for Addie.”

The book is about an Osage girl named Addie growing up on the reservation in 1939.

The book also includes a picture glossary, which defines two common Osage phrases and introduces the Osage Nation, frybread, a baby board and an Osage summer house.

“It has been an amazing experience to see this idea I had in my head come to life,” said Standley, 35.  

Standley, a part-time nutrition saleswoman, has always wanted to publish a book and began tossing around the idea in 2008.

“My nama (grandmother) Addie Cunningham Walker passed away in 2008 and the idea of writing the book was born – I dived right into it,” she said.

Standley began thinking of all the stories her grandmother had told her growing up.

“My pen started flying and I began fleshing out the stories,” she said. “The story I chose is something that my nama experienced as a child, it isn’t verbatim but it’s probably something other Indian kids have experienced as well.”

Standley wanted to make sure her book was historically and culturally accurate so she spoke with Osage elders.

“I told them my idea and asked them questions,” she said. “I also asked them to describe their daily lives growing up and the story went from there.”

Standley has a degree in broadcast journalism but has always loved writing. She had no clue on how to publish a book and began doing some research.

Her mother, Debra Atterberry, senior adviser to Principal Chief John Red Eagle, introduced her to Kathryn Red Corn, Osage Tribal Museum director, who put her in contact with her brother C.R. Red Corn, who is an illustrator. Standley also received a matching arts grant from the Osage Nation Foundation in the amount of$5,984for her book.

“After I met C.R. that is when my project became a reality and that was two years into it,” Standley said. “From there it took another two years before the book was finished.” 

Standley loved working with Red Corn and said he gave her some very wise advice.

“I remember sending him a manuscript and he told me you never send someone your manuscript before you are published,” she said. “I had to laugh to myself but I trusted him.”

Standley wrote about 26 drafts before her final manuscript was finished and it took over a year for the illustrations to be complete.

“We would go back and forth … for some illustrations it took us two to three weeks to get it fleshed out,” she said.  

In the midst of all this Standley talked to about 20 different publishers before choosing Dog Ear Publishing based out of Indianapolis.

“I decided to go with Dog Ear Publishing because I felt comfortable with them and I had a lot of the creative control, which was good,” she said.  

Standley submitted the final manuscript in October 2012 and the first copy arrived at her home in January 2013.

“I will never forget the day I got the first book in the mail,” she said. “As silly as it sounds I told my husband this was in my head and now it is a book – it was an amazing feeling for it to finally happen.”

She immediately sat down with her daughter and husband, Addie and Wade, to read the book.

“Halfway through the book I got a little bit emotional because I could feel my grandmother in the book,” she said. 

Standley’s grandmother Addie was the matriarch of her family. She was known for her cooking and teaching cultural activities, she said.  

“My mom would always tell me stories about her and my nama, Addie’s home was our center of our cultural activities,” Standley said. “I wanted to preserve that since it is no longer like that and things have changed.”

Not to mention, Red Corn was a classmate of Addie at Indian Camp School and would spend time at her house.

“I think since C.R. knew my nama it helped in telling my story and I feel like my nama would be proud,” she said.

Standley’s mother couldn’t agree more.

“I think it is awesome that Mindy was able to partner with a successful Osage artist that actually attended Indian Camp School with my mom – I’m so grateful that C.R. agreed to (help her) publish her book,” Atterberry said.

Atterberry was thrilled to see the finished product and teared up as well.

“I started texting all my family to let them know it (the book) was published,” she said.

Standley has received nothing but positive feedback. She even had the opportunity to read to her daughter’s class and brought frybread for them.

On March 9, the Osage Tribal Museum held a book signing for Standley.

There were 75 people who attended the event and 42 books were sold that day, according to Lou Brock, senior researcher for the Osage Tribal Museum. 

Standley’s kindergarten and third grade teacher Cecelia Hibdon attended the event.

“I am very impressed with Mindy … I’ve taught school for 31 years and it is always rewarding when you see a child who has come through your program and does well,” Hibdon said.

Hibdon is now retired and is a librarian at Ethel Briggs Memorial Library in Barnsdall.

“I’ve already bought the book for our library,” she said. “I thought it was very well illustrated and very informative to someone who is not Osage and doesn’t know about the culture.”

Hibdon said she learned some things that she never knew before and bought two copies for her grandchildren.

“I still see Mindy in pigtails dancing around, hanging upside down on the playground,” Hibdon said. “I always expected big things from her and I am very proud of her.”

Standley hopes her book will get Osage children excited about reading.

“I think a lot of time kids struggle with wanting to read because they don’t identify with the characters,” she said. “I hope if they read about someone who experienced something they did they will identify with that and read more books.”

Also, Standley really wants to highlight the Osage culture and traditions while educating non-Osages.

“I want people to be able to learn about the culture and understand it,” she said. “I think there are a lot of misconceptions out there and the book will educate people about those misconceptions.”

“Being Osage, we are proud of our heritage,” she added. “I feel like the things we learned from my culture are priceless – our culture has so many lessons to teach our young people and I don’t want that to ever go away.”

“Frybread for Addie” can be purchased at Mindystandley.com, Amazon.com, barnsandnoble.com, osagenationfoundation.org and the Osage Tribal Museum.

Paperback copies are $14.99 and hardcover copies are $22.99.