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Cherokee America por Margaret Verble

Cherokee America (edición 2019)

por Margaret Verble (Autor)

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1005220,901 (3.92)5
"From the author of the Pulitzer Prize finalist Maud's Line, an epic novel that follows a web of complex family alliances and culture clashes in the Cherokee Nation during the aftermath of the Civil War, and the unforgettable woman at its center"--

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This is a fascinating study of a family of mixed Cherokee and Caucasian background, living in the Cherokee nation after the Trail of Tears. Cherokee America, the main character, is known as Check. Her husband dies early in the novel and she is left to manage her sons and their large farm. The older sons are struggling into adulthood, with various women troubles. One of their workers, Puny, is a Black man, and we are given insights into his unique position relative to the other members of the community and the culture in the surrounding area. There are complex relationships among the characters and I would have benefited from having kept a guide of who's who.The author is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and, I believe, provides an authentic view into their culture. ( )
  bookfest | Oct 30, 2020 |
This book felt like unwrapping a Russian doll, with layers only slowly being revealed. The last layer, which I found the most fascinating, revealed that much of the novel was based on real people and events, with a healthy dose of fiction. While I remember learning about the Trail of Tears and the Cherokee (and other tribes) removal to Oklahoma, I never knew much about what the lives of the people were like after those events. This novel, set in the Cherokee Nation in the 1870s, presents a complex picture of the people and the nation they created. Action and mystery combine with a tense legal situation in this novel, which requires one to keep going through thick and thin. ( )
  wagner.sarah35 | Dec 1, 2019 |
Cherokee America is one of those rare novels that capture a place and a time so well that reading the book feels a little like what time travel must be like. In this instance, the place is the Cherokee reservation in Oklahoma, the time is 1875, and the book is about a mixed-race family trying to walk both sides of the line that marked the racial divides of the late nineteenth century.

Cherokee America and her family are the survivors of a people long accustomed to having the United States government snatch from them anything it has a use for, be it their property or their very lives. By 1875, many on the reservation have grown a little complacent about their situation, but people like Check (as she has come to be called) know better. They understand that little has really changed and that their security is best protected by not giving the local marshal and his deputies any excuse for coming on the reservation in the first place. But the new judge and his men are always looking for a reason to interfere with reservation law enforcement – and if not given a legitimate excuse, they are certainly capable of creating one for themselves.

Cherokee America is long, complicated story about the generational relationships of three reservation families: The Singers (of which Check is the matriarch), the Corderys, and the Bushyheads. The members and hired help of the three families interact so often and in so many different combinations that the two most important pages in Cherokee America may well be the ones used for the book’s “Cast of Characters,” a family tree of sorts that helps the reader keep all the players straight. I can’t, in fact, imagine anyone enjoyably reading this one without frequent reference to those two pages.

Check is married to Andrew, a white man on his death bed, and for Check, her five sons, and their hired help, life is pretty much on hold until Andrew’s passing. But on hold does not mean that young men are not going to get up to their usual mischief in the meantime – with not unexpected, but serious, repercussions. These people, whether related by blood or not, are family and what is good for one of them is good for all of them. Andrew’s funeral party is a perfect reflection of daily life on the reservation:

“For after the ground was packed, the son of the most famous Cherokee preacher prayed over his grave, first in the native language and then in English. Ceremonial smoke floated from small fires set by family groups. On a spot southeast of the bare earth, a few men and women danced to a chant. Others in the party included white frontier entrepreneurs, former slaves, and more than one man who’d escaped from the law in the United States. But mostly the mourners were a large group of mixed-blood people who shared a common history. They were neither Indian nor white, but both. And uniquely American.”

But how much longer will they be able to protect themselves from outsiders who want what they have and are willing to do whatever it takes to get it. After a young Indian girl suddenly disappears, an important member of the Cherokee Nation is murdered, and two white men are thought to be involved, Judge Isaac Parker (who came to be known as “the hanging judge”) is eager to use this excuse to extend his territorial control into the reservation itself. But the Singers, the Corderys, and the Bushyheads just might have something to say about that.

Bottom Line: Margaret Verble, author of Cherokee Nation, is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, and although the events of the novel are entirely fictional, the novel is loosely based upon members of her own family. Interestingly, one of the book’s more colorful characters is based upon the real-life grandmother of Will Rogers. Verble often uses humor to portray the deep connections between people and those places whose loss they mourn - and the other places they fight to keep. This one takes a little work (remember that “Cast of Characters” previously mentioned) but it’s worth the effort. ( )
  SamSattler | Sep 30, 2019 |
CHEROKEE AMERICA by Margaret Verble
Verble beautifully creates atmosphere in both culture and land in this prequel to her first (Pulitzer Prize nominated) novel, MAUD’S LINE. Cherokee America, known to all as Check, is the matriarch of a family still remembering the horrors of the Trail of Tears and now facing increasing pressure from Whites to sell, give or abandon their Cherokee Nation land.
Family is paramount to this extended family facing the death of Check’s husband, culture clashes with their white neighbors, disapproval of their employment of a former slave, their friendships across culture lines and family ties and, finally, the betrayal of family members by whites.
The first half of the novel introduces the various family, friends and enemies and establishes the ethnic and “national” background and clash points. The second half deals with the aftermath of betrayal and reads like an engrossing mystery. The cast of characters at the front is extremely helpful in keeping all of the players in this drama straight. The conflict and resolution are satisfying if unconventional.
My one hesitancy in highly recommending this novel is the emphasis on sexual behavior that pervades the entire book.
5 of 5 stars ( )
  beckyhaase | Jun 28, 2019 |
I didn’t realize when I began reading this book that Cherokee America was a woman’s name. Called Check for short, Cherokee America is the matriarch of a prosperous family living in the Cherokee Nation during the 1870’s.

Check’s husband is a white man who is on his death bed at the start of the novel. With a family of five boys and a potato farm to run, Check has her hands full as she tries to care for her husband in his final days.

It is during this time that some pivotal events occur in the lives of her boys and some of her closest neighbors. As Check grieves for her husband, she is distracted by the shooting involving one of her sons, the disappearance of a young neighbor girl and then the murder of a member of the Cherokee Nation.

While the story had some terrible events, I found the writing to have a sort of slap-stick humor at times. The characters were amusing and different. Also fascinating was the racial pecking order in the Indian Territory. Not too many years had passed since the Civil War and blacks who had been slaves were still at the bottom of the pecking order.

Because of the crimes in the territory, federal Marshalls were sent in to investigate. This was counter-productive to the Indians and threatened previous treaties with the white man. The Indians worked together to seek their own justice, while satisfying the goals of the federal Marshalls.

Readers who like historical fiction, westerns and Native American culture will enjoy this book. Sensitive readers should know there is no graphic violence, but there are some incidents involving the young men and their overactive libidos.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for allowing me to read an advance copy and give my honest review. ( )
  tamidale | Feb 13, 2019 |
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"From the author of the Pulitzer Prize finalist Maud's Line, an epic novel that follows a web of complex family alliances and culture clashes in the Cherokee Nation during the aftermath of the Civil War, and the unforgettable woman at its center"--

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