Once again, dear world, I feel the need to apologize to your for my lack of content posting to this Bookshelf Blog; but with the new job and all the other "life" commitments, hopefully you can understand why I'm just now catching up.
However, late is better than never and I'm very excited to be sharing Citizens Creek with you today! First, a little aside on New York Times Best Selling Author Latita Tademy. You may have heard of Lalita thanks to her other award winning novel, Cane River. I got to meet Lalita this summer at the American Library Association's Annual Conference in San Francisco as she was being presenting with a literary award from the Black Caucus of ALA and as you can see from this picture below, we are practically best friends!
Jokes aside, let me tell you about Citizens Creek...
In this antebellum novel, we follow the life of the Alabama Slave, Cow Tom. As in almost every other slave novel I have read (which admittedly is not that many), our protagonist Cow Tom, seeks to do his work, marry the woman of his dreams and find a way to life as a freed man. HOWEVER, that's about all the familiar comfort Lalita offers as Cow Tom is most certainly not like any other slave you've ever read about. Cow Tom is owned by a Creek Chief! Yes, a few Southeastern Native American tribes during the late 18th and 19th centuries adopted the practice of maintaining chattel slaves. If you don't believe me HERE is a quick link to alieve your discomfort.
This is quite interesting, right?! I was hooked within the first few pages. Here is a story about the intersected history between two oppressed people groups and that I had never heard of. But aside from the initial shock value, allow me to tell you a little about Cow Tom. Cow Tom is a good man, and slave-owning notwithstanding, his owner, Chief Targee is also a good man. Early in the story Cow Tom and Chief Yargee agree upon a "fair" price for Cow Tom's freedom and despite the numerous obstacles life put in their path, Chief Yargee does uphold his end of the bargain when the time comes. Yet, this is not the story that Lalita is attempting to tell here; I believe it is merely an avenue of strengthening her character and providing him with depth. What drives the storyline is Cow Tom's adventure in the Civil War. Chief Yargee loans Cow Tom out to a Confederate general (not willingly, I might add) to work as a translator during the Indian Removal Conflict happening in Florida at the time.
You may remember this part of history. The early Americans for some reason found it absolutely necessary to remove all Native American tribes from the Southeastern region of the country in order to do what with I'm still not exactly sure. You may also remember that this "Removal" turned out to be a bloody and disastrous genocide known as the Trail of Tears. But that's another story for another day.
The part of this larger, more complicated story that takes place within Citizens Creek is of Cow Tom working as a translator to the reluctant tribes in Florida. Cow Tom' s job is to convince the Native American chiefs to agree to removal contracts, uproot their families from ancestral homes, and make the dangerous trek west to Indian Territory.
But as these things go, we can all imagine that this is not the end of the story as Eurocentric colonialism cannot quite be satisfied. But for that, my dear friends, you will have to read this for yourself!