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Posted October 31, 2011
I love books about Native Americans and this was no exception. The depth of our depravity towards these peoples always brings me to tears. This was the 3rd book of her's I've read and she does a very nice job telling the story.
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Posted August 12, 2008
Fine Historical Fiction
This iUniverse POD reprint of the Ballantine edition of LIGHT A DISTANT FIRE is a welcome find since the original version has gone out of print. Lucia St. Claire Robson has here given us a stirring retelling of the legend of Seminole war leader ('tastanagi thloko' or 'great warrior') Osceola. Born to a Creek mother in the Muskogee nation (called Maskokee by the author) and a possible white father named William Powell somewhere in Alabama among the Upper Creeks, young Powell was part of the rebellious Red Stick exodus to Florida after the devastating defeat of the Red Sticks by Andrew Jackson at Horseshoe Bend. Robson gives us Powell or 'Cricket' (the childhood Indian name she has assigned him, absent full knowledge of those times) being rescued by Indian kinsmen at Horseshoe Bend and, later, by a sympathetic white trader of English or Scottish extraction at the Negro Fort, an abandoned British stronghold from the War of 1812 which was taken over by a fugitive slave community and their Indian allies for a few years and destroyed, on Jackson's orders, to remove a refuge for Africans fleeing the chattel slavery of plantation life in the states bordering the Florida territory. Young Cricket grows up in the wild areas of the Florida peninsula where his clan and fellow tribesmen have fled for safe haven after Jackson destroyed their prosperous settlements on the Alachua Plain and along the Suwannee River to the north in what is known to history as the First Seminole War around 1817. Residing in the western coastal region along the Withlacoochie River and the Great Wahoo Swamp, Cricket grows to manhood and gains his manly name, Asi Yahola ''Black Drink Singer'', denoting his role in certain of the Maskokee rituals with the purgative elixir they called the asi or black drink. His name would later be corrupted by the whites to 'Osceola' of course. Also known as Talassee Tastanagi ('Great Warrior of the Talassee'), Osceola ultimately became instrumental in the decision by the various Seminole bands (including the Hitchti-speaking Mikasuki, the refugee Maskokee Red Sticks and the Hitchiti-speaking Occonee) to refuse to accept the decision of the federal government to relocate them in accord with the Indian Removal Act passed by Congress in 1830. By 1835, the white authorities in Florida had forced one treaty on the Seminole bands which confined most of them to a reservation on land in the south central part of Florida (the Treaty of Moultrie Creek) and then, reversing that agreement, a second which required them to accept relocation to Indian Territory in what is today's Oklahoma, west of the Mississippi (the Treaty of Payne's Landing). Osceola led the early resistance to the whites and for the first two years of what turned out to be a seven year struggle, had a string of remarkable successes against an unprepared U.S. Army. Fighting a guerrilla war in the harsh jungle environment of central and south Florida, the Seminole defeated the whites at the Dade Massacre, the Battle of the Withlacoochie, the Battle of Fort Izzard 'near the Withlacoochie' and the Battle of the Great Wahoo Swamp while raiding and wiping out plantations along Florida's eastern coast and in the north. But eventually the greater resources and manpower of the American Republic overcame the barely 5,000 Seminole and their fugitive slave allies, whittling them down in a relentless war of attrition. In the end, the Second Seminole War became the most costly to America in blood and treasure in its history to that time and the most expensive Indian war in constant dollars. Osceola, though he remains the best known hero of that conflict and is revered today as a freedom fighter and noble antagonist, only led the fight for two years, succumbing in 1837 to a fever 'probably malaria' which forced him to parley with the American Army's General Thomas Sydney Jesup. But Jesup, believing himself betrayed by the Seminole after an earlier peace agreement had bee
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Posted December 29, 2011