The frame story in Selu is the story of an Appalachian/Cherokee woman whose childhood was spent on the nuclear reservation of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and her search for direction or pattern in her life.
Through tribal stories and Awiakta's personal story, Selu addresses our involvement with the world at large: the impact our mode of living has on the health of our environment and our response-ability to it.
The stories of Selu (who brings corn to her family but is not given the proper respect by her grandsons and so must leave) and Little Deer (who devises a ceremony to encourage only responsible hunting) both teach about respect, reciprocity, and balance.
The stories in Selu describe the diversity in corn, the burning man who didn't give the proper respect to fire, the Cherokee working to save Tellico Dam.
Awiakta begins Selu by describing the way that the story of corn has been separated from the physical reality of corn-as-food.
Selu launches itself by making a connection to its readers who are "rushing through the high-tech world," are "used to literal language," and who "want the facts -- fast" (Selu, xiv).
Finally Awiakta eases the story off the page, assured that her vision has been shared, her reader transformed as clearly as she herself has been transformed by Selu.