Posts Tagged ‘Cherokee’

I salute the indigenous people of the New World and their descendants. Never forget the millions who were slaughtered starting in 1492.


Note to my Italian friends: I love & respect the Italian people, culture, & language. Viva Verdi! (Italians will understand the last sentence)



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Eighth Mask

BOOK: Louisville author plots ‘Murder on the Cherokee Reservation’

Jun 10 2015


By T. E. Lyons

Eighth Mask by Charles Suddeth
(Library Tales Publishing; 317 pgs., $18.99

This Louisville author has already delivered a variety of tales: historical suspense novella “Halloween Kentucky Style,” YA tech thriller “Experiment 38” and now a novel subtitled “Murder on the Cherokee Reservation.”

The story is launched with an apparent (though not certain) murder that becomes a mystery due to its time and location — at the climax of a bawdy-but-spiritual Cherokee tradition called a Booger Dance. The eponymous dancers are masked — so the discovery of a body afterwards leads to questions such as who might have been posing as a dancer merely to have an excuse for a disguise. These questions are asked by the local sheriff’s office, but walls of silence (and what may be worse — surly half-truths and omissions) are what greet the interviewers when the dancers and potential witnesses claim they have the right to keep this matter private within the tribe. Gradually the interactions of the expanding cast of characters resolve into a form that’s familiar to fans of Hitchcock films: the innocent man sent on the run by a false accusation.

Best considered as a quick read with some slow buildup, this is a mystery-adventure that both offers and requires a certain, steady focus. Suddeth establishes his style early on: short chapters that gradually accumulate character and backstory, but are filled with point-of-view detail. The dynamic that’s most typical of today’s thrillers — with splashy sections of exposition that show off the author’s research on the background topic — is here muted, as the past and present of Cherokee customs and beliefs is given out a thimbleful at a time.

Suddeth understands the stars that guide this type of rural and natural mystery-thriller that’s infused with Native American lore and culture clashes: Tony Hillerman was a Mt. Rushmore-quality figure who wrote just this kind of novel. In recent years, Nevada Barr has been a go-to figure of very strong consistency (but with an emphasis on landscape/environment description that verges on travel-writing). Suddeth seems to be a more cautious writer than either of these, as he conveys his plot largely through the methodology of a procedural — albeit with some twists based on personal and cultural conflicts.

It’s surprising that with Suddeth’s experience he feels the need to confirm that the reader is sure of where suspicions are still open. His plot is tight enough that he doesn’t give away too much prematurely — yet he seems very cautious about confirming attributions and roles in accusations and personal clashes. The tight paragraphs are perpetually working to make sure the reader is in a very certain place with the heroes and villains. This is the deal Suddeth seems to make with the reader: I’ll get you involved with the characters at a steady pace — any smoke and mirrors will be in the plot, not the writing style. So the voices of Deputy Sheriff Charlie Yuchalla and murder suspect Lyle Gibbons aren’t as far apart as you might suspect, even as one claims to be merely the catalyst for the actions of a supernatural soul-stealer of Cherokee legend. When action scenes crop up, they move well and convincingly. If you can handle an especially-careful pace as the story proceeds, there’s entertainment here.



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Wild Potato Cherokee Clan

Anigatogewi, ᎠᏂᎦᏙᎨᏫ, Wild Potato Clan (literally Swamp People): AKA Bear, Kituwah, or Racoon Clan. The Blind Savannnah Clan is part of them. They are noted as farmers and gathers of food, hence they are known as Keepers of the Earth.

Wildflowers – Toledo Bend Lake Area – Texas / Louisiana

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According to the Cherokee Phoenix, the Cherokee Nation’s newspaper, the Cherokee Nation is reviving the ancient game of chunkey. Contestants throw spears at a rolling chunkey stone.  People place bets on how close each player’s spear will come to the chunkey stone when it stops rolling. Men’s and women’s divisions.


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My picture book, Spearfinger, traditionally takes place in the Snowbird Mountains/Nantahala River valley of North Carolina, but I like to think Spearfinger could have haunted many places where the Cherokees lived, even in Kentucky where I live. Kentucky means “meadowlands” in Cherokee. Whiteside Mountain, in the Snowbirds, is her rumored home.

Bilingual Cherokee/English picture book: SPEARFINGER / ᎦᏘᏍᏗ ᎦᏰᏌᏗ / GATISDI GAYESADI . Spearfinger the witch terrorizes the Cherokees. Can Chucha discover her secrets & end her rampages? Bilingual, 60 pages of full-color illustrations. Author: Charles Suddeth. Illustrator: Carrie Salazar. Translators: Lawrence Panther and Tim Nuttle. http://www.4rvpublishingcatalog.com/charles-suddeth.php


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Snake Doctors/The Dog That Saved Humanity

By Joyce Rheal and Brian Wilkes. Narrated by Kim Crow

An anthology of two traditional morality tales, including exposure to Cherokee language.

“The Snake Doctors”: When you see dragonflies gather, there may be snakes nearby – watch out! Everyone has their own talents, their own “medicine”. Our medicines may change over our lives. Once you give up some part of you, even if you didn’t mean to, you may not be able to get it back. “The Snake Doctors” teaches us not to try to be something we’re not, especially to impress somebody else. It teaches us that we can recover from our own problems by finding somebody else who needs our help. And remember – if you do something on a dare, you may be sorry!

“The Dog Who Saved Humanity”: Why do dogs love us so much, and why are they willing to risk their lives to rescue us? Joyce Rheal and Brian Wilkes retell the ancient story of the dog who warned humans of the Great Flood that was on the way. Native American teaching stories are often linked to specific locations, and this one is linked to a specific mountain in Tennessee, where the Ark came to rest, and where the survivors erected a 16-foot-tall stone dog to remind them of the event. This book examines the deep connection between Southeastern Nations and their beloved dogs. A fun audiobook you’ll share with your children and grandchildren over and over again!  [print version is also available]


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Book launch for my picture book Spearfinger! Saturday, August 5 from 2:00 to 3:00 at the Learning Express of Louisville. We will have a book reading, refreshments, and children’s activities. Come join us!

Learning Express of Louisville

[beside Kroger Middletown]

12619 Shelbyville Rd

Louisville, KY, 40243



Spearfinger, a witch, terrorizes the Cherokees of the Smoky Mountains. No one can stop her. A little boy named Chucha battles her. Can he discover her secrets? Can he put an end to her rampages? Bilingual Cherokee/English picture book paperback: ISBN 978-1-940310-56-5: $14.99. Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-940310-57-2; $21.99. 4RV Publishing

Contains 60 pages of full-color illustrations and text in English and Cherokee.

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