Losing St. Christopher: Book Two of the Cherokee Series. (Cherokee Trilogy: Volume Two). David Michael Harding. Q&CY Books. June 2014. 352 pp. ISBN#: 9780985728526.
This second book of the Cherokee Series opens with a disturbing premise. It seems that Albert Speer, a Hitler henchman, got his idea of ethnic cleansing from early white settlers in American history, those who were determined to get rid of the American Indian race no matter what the cost. It’s not for this reviewer to deny or agree with this horrific reality, but it is for the reader to follow the notion in this novel. Educated, so-called Christians are eager to have Cherokee men and women become educated, actually take part in the spread of Christianity among the Cherokee nation, but there the positive mission ends!
Chancellor is the son of well-known, respected leaders of the Cherokee nation. His mother dies tragically but makes Chancellor promise to get an education among the white men. He does so with much vigor and agrees to go along with all he is asked to do, although he finds it impossible to reconcile Christian principles of the “three in One God” with what he knows of the One Spirit God his Cherokee nation has believed and followed for many, many years. He is unable to share his skills in medicine, learned at the knees of his mother as they scouted nature to find herbs and plants of curative value, because white men cannot pray to the Spirit as they should while they administer this medicine. Ironically, it is this medicine that works many times when white doctors’ remedies are fruitless and actually cause harm rather than healing.
Tensions loom large when Cherokee mission students begin to marry and date white women. Prejudice is large with death threats, tarring and feathering, and other repulsive practices, meant to frighten the young Cherokee men into submission and obedience, which basically means to “stick to your own kind.” Monterey is a young woman with whom Chancellor has fallen in love; however, they must separate for a while.
Meanwhile Totsuhwa, Chancellor’s father, has survived his personal, spiritual crisis and travels to New Ocheta to meet his son. Both have matured with age and knowledge of the white man’s ruses, Chancellor in particular unjustly accused after a maritime altercation. On and the story goes, with one injustice after another told in a very real way, without drama and yet carrying the weight of slowly increasing defeat, all the way to the momentous last journey. The spirit of these incredible warriors is stronger than the travesties forced upon them by white men. Unique to this depiction is the process of how the Cherokee learned to read and write the white man’s language, which inspired them to create their own alphabet based on sounds and eventually allowed them to create a newspaper in which they strengthened the union of their people, a strategy quickly squelched again by the white man.
Losing St. Christopher… is a solid, fascinating read that depicts the degradation of the Cherokee nation, evidenced by the experiences of Totsuhwa, Chancellor and his family, and other notable Cherokee men. While many are guilty, the author gives credit to those who refused to take part in the extermination of an Indian tribe and gave respect and honor where it was due.
Daniel Michael Harding has crafted a series that deserves to be required reading in classrooms throughout the United States. Although it is fiction, it is clearly well-researched, carefully written historical fiction of the highest quality, a revelation of truths beyond comprehension that need to be understood and preserved as a permanent part of American history. Finely written, David Michael Harding!