artwork C. Lisa Desimini in SHE SANG PROMISE: The Story of Betty Mae Tiger Jumper
She was a barefoot girl who readily handled small alligators and other wild creatures of the Everglades in the 1920-30s. She helped two learned medicine women, her mother and grandmother, birth babies, harvest crops and handle more, with much of her time spent outdoors. I met her as Betty Mae Tiger Jumper, News Editor, in the 1980s. She sat next to a crisp stack of her newspaper, The Seminole Tribune, as she also offered artwork at an open-air festival table. We gabbed about newswork, about her precedent-setting life as first woman leader of her tribe. I bought more than I could afford in handcrafted Seminole Indian fabric arts. I kept in touch. On occasion she published my words in her newspaper. I was honored that she wanted me to write a book about her for children. In this, the nation’s women’s history month and also in April, birth month in 1923 of BMTJ, I’m honored to cherish her life by remembering her. First a poem from the book.
“Think of The Gigantic Glades Near The End of Land”
poem, JG Annino, SHE SANG PROMISE
Images and text of our creative illustrated biography for students of Betty Mae Tiger Jumper were approved with her/her family and tribe leaders. An esteemed leader, her son, Moses Jumper Jr. contributed a letter to readers. Honors for the book include those from the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum, and at the blog of Dr. Debbie Reese who created American Indians in Children’s Literature. It also earned a place on curated lists such Social Justice Books. Other honors for She Sang Promise, The Story of Betty Mae Jumper include from the National Council on the Social Studies and the Library of Congress, which selected it for the National Book Festival. It won the Florida Book Award. I’m grateful to publisher National Geographic, whose wonderful team of editors and art director took the time to bring many readers to the project and to Lisa Desimini, for her care with details and beautiful artwork.
Sally Ash/ Woodville School photograph
Navigate to more details at tabs above. You may also want to visit the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki store, where our book is available online alongside Jingle Dancer, by a children’s author I’ve long admired, Cynthia Leitich Smith.
The best book on our esteemed subject is her own autobiography, told with historian Patsy West ~~~~ A SEMINOLE LEGEND [UF Press of Florida.] For another book Betty Mae Tiger Jumper wrote, please spend time with her interpretation of her Tribe’s oral teachings, in LEGENDS of the SEMINOLES ~~~~[ Pineapple Press].
And, as an adult, she wrestled alligators to entertain tourists. Yes. As an adult. Wearing her long handmade fabric-art skirt. Such an incomparable woman!