Professor’s article inspired by college alum

Author LeAnne Howe’s baseball novel “Miko Kings” stands at the heart of a scholarly article published by OCCC English Professor Michael Snyder.

The essay entitled “Imagine Lennon as Choctaw Code Talker: Indigenized Beatles in LeAnne Howe’s Miko Kings” appeared in the Fall of 2014 in the Journal of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association.

Snyder said he has a passion for the Beatles.

He became interested in Native American literature while attending the University of Oklahoma. His mentor at OU recommended a class about global fiction and Snyder read the book “Miko Kings” for his class.

He said he became thoroughly interested in this novel and wanted to research it more.

Howe is an enrolled citizen of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.

She serves as Edison Distinguished professor of American Literature in the English Department at the University of Georgia.

The prize-winning author once walked the campus of OCCC, attending here in 1970s during the second and third year the college was open, then called South Oklahoma Junior College.

Her most recent novel “Miko Kings” was published in 2007.

It tells the story of the turbulent days before statehood when white settlers and gamblers were swindling the Indians out of their land. This novel connects Native American heritage to baseball and is based on America’s first moving picture, “His Last Game,” according to LeAnne Howe’s weblog.

Being an avid Beatles fan, Snyder found some unusual references in Howe’s novel and was curious about how they related, starting with the main character named John Lennon..

Through research and reading more into the novel, Snyder quickly realized the main character’s name sparked a sense of comparison to the rest of the story.

“My path that I took in trying to solve this mystery kind of parallels the main character in the novel because she is trying to figure out the mystery of this Indian territory baseball team,” Snyder said.

The connection and reference to the “sun” brought the comparison to Snyder’s attention.

The Beatles have a variety of songs that reference the sun such as “Sun King” and “Here Comes the Sun.”

“It’s almost like they are sun worshippers and Howe made it part of the connection,” Snyder said.

Throughout the novel there are different references from the characters to the scenes that can link the Beatles to the novel and use Lennon to call attention to Native American issues.

“All of the characters in ‘Miko King’ reflect John Lennon in some way,” Snyder said.

After meeting with Howe, Snyder nominated her for the OCCC Alumni Hall of Fame, On Nov. 18, 2014, Howe was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

“She is absolutely one of my favorite living writers, even though she has only had a handful of books,” Snyder said.

Her first book, “Shell Shaker” received an American Book Award in 2002, from the Before Columbia Foundation.

It then became a finalist for the 2003 Oklahoma Book Award, and Howe was named Woodcraft Circle Writer of the Year in 2002.

Howe said she was impressed with Snyder’s article when she first read it during their meeting.

“Professor Snyder’s article is well researched, well written,” Howe said.

“It was accepted in an international peer-reviewed journal with very high standards,” she said.

“In other words, Snyder’s article was competing with scholarly articles from around the world for a place in the NAIS journal — a stunning achievement.

“I’m not saying that because the article is about my novel, rather I’m saying that the article twins the Beatles and Native literature.”

LeAnne views the journal article written by Snyder as a unique view of ‘Miko Kings.’

For more information contact Snyder at

To contact Laura Carter, email

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