What did America look like before Columbus?

What did America look like before Columbus?

What did America look like before Columbus? Was the land wild and untamed or were the indigenous people farmers and city builders? These are the question Charles Mann seeks to answer in his book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus. For century the common myth is that South and North America was a wild land with very few people. Archaeology discoveries, however, disprove this theory and show that 1/5 of the people alive in the 16th century lived in the Americas (i.e. there was close to 100 million people in the Americas with the world population being about 500 million). Sadly, disease and sickness (e.g. smallpox) brought over by Europeans killed large numbers of the indigenous people. In some places, 90% to 95% of the indigenous people died within a hundred years of Columbus’ first trip. This massive depopulation led to a restructuring of tribal cities, governments, farms, etc. It also allowed the Europeans to enter and settle the land without much resistance (though there was some, of course).   This isn’t a slam against the Europeans. Disease, viruses, and the like don’t care who you are; they are just bugs that seek to kill and harm. The importance of this book is that it seeks to tell a better story of the indigenous people of the Americas. History as taught in the USA tends to be very much Eurocentric with very little space or time given to the indigenous people of the land. While I understand the desire to tell the history of Europe, I also think it is important to tell the story of the...
History, Myths, and Sacred Formulas of the Cherokees

History, Myths, and Sacred Formulas of the Cherokees

James Mooney (from Wikipedia.org) In reading various books on the history of the Cherokee people I kept hearing one name mentioned repeatedly: James Mooney. So, I bought his book. =) Mooney was a first-generation Irish American who grew up on the stories of the old country. As a teenage in the mid-1800’s he started to memorize the names of all the Native American tribes in the North America. This led to a job with the newly formed Bureau of American Ethnology. From that point one Mooney would dedicate his life to recording the stories of the Cherokees and other Native American tribes across the country. His first book, The Sacred Formulas of the Cherokee, was published in 1891. Nine years later in 1900 his masterpiece Myths of the Cherokee was released. The first half of this book is devoted to telling the history of the Cherokees from their first contact with European explorers in the 1500’s to the end of the nineteenth century. History, Myths, and Sacred Formulas of the Cherokees by James Mooney In order to gain the information necessary for these books, Mooney spent years living among the Cherokees. Most of the time he was in North Carolina and Georgia among the Eastern Band of Cherokees, which were those people who remained in the ancestral land after the Trail of Tears (1838-1839). However, he did make a few visits to Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma (then Indian Territory) to collaborate the stories he was hearing in the east. On a personal level, it was awesome to hear the stories my ancestors would have told each other. Stories about...
The Vibe or Spirit of the Land

The Vibe or Spirit of the Land

“You can feel the youthfulness of the land. It’s like a child full of energy and unpredictability.” Those were my words as we walked through the woods a stone throw from the Sawtooth Wilderness. The two of us had left the trail a while back and were picking our way along a ridge north of Pettit Lake. Our conversation during this hike was wide ranging, but the land was front and center for most of it. Though it is easy to miss, the land around us has a vibe or spirit that telegraphs its character to those who listen. The Sawtooth Mountains, for example, sends a vibe of youthful energy. It is a young range with unpredictable mood swings – going from burning hot days to freezing cold nights to perhaps a lightening storm or two. The Ozark mountains where I spend my childhood telegraphs a different vibe. They are an old range full of history and stories. Every nook and hollow within the range has a story to tell. The few times I’ve visited the Appalachian Mountains I’ve felt a similar vibe though I have not had the honor of listening to their voices as much as I would like. Years ago when I first came to Idaho I worked in the high mountain deserts in the far south-west of the state. Deep canyons cut through the deserts like wrinkles on an aged face. The desert is a shy place, hiding its secrets from visitors. Only those who slow down and watch are given a glimpse into the deep mysteries of the desert. Cities and town also give...
Connecting With the Soul of the Reader

Connecting With the Soul of the Reader

Every author’s dream is to craft something that connects with the soul of the reader, transporting them into a realm beyond the black and white letters on the page. This type of experience is rare – for both the author and the reader. Hence why it is so powerful when it happens. This past Monday I had the honor of experiencing such an event for the first time as an author. I was sharing a chapter from my newest book with a local writers group when the air in the room began to change. The emotions and atmosphere shifted, moving the five of us on to a different plane of existence. It was quite simply amazing and humbling. wow…. perhaps one day I will be able to share this chapter with you all (hopefully in the form of a new book!!). In the meantime, thanks again for your support and prayers. May blessings pour down on you all....