Book One of The Saga of the Seventh Generation
by C. J. Hotchkiss
THE ANCESTORS tells the personal, yet connected, stories of individuals in four families – Cherokee, English, Irish, and Ojibwe – who struggled to survive and define our nation in the 1800’s. It is the first book of a trilogy, The Saga of the Seventh Generation, providing an intimate context for the current struggles in the United States with the challenges of our diversity, the transgressions of our history, and our pressing environmental responsibilities to the future.
Its characters form the strengths and shadows of our current Seventh Generation.
Isha, a young Cherokee boy who inherits the dream of his grandfather and the responsibility for keeping the spirit of his people alive.
“The old Cherokee man had lived over 100 years. His thin, yellow white braid still fell to his waist, pulled back from his forehead and cheekbones that were a skeleton of the handsome bronze face of his youth. His toothless smile and soft, affectionate laugh made little children smile bashfully and pat his small, wrinkled hand. Their parents approached him also like children, petitioning his council, his comfort, or his approval. The old man’s advice was always some version of the same. “I am sorry that your journey is so hard. Try to keep the Eagle alive in yourself and in your children. It is good to see you, my friend.” While this only vaguely qualified as advise, the old man spoke with such kindness that it always helped.”
Elizabeth, a wealthy British twelve year old who must manage the family estate and her baby brother, Samuel, after their mother dies in childbirth and the family moves to Connecticut.
“The twelve-year-old girl looked down at the tiny life that had replaced her mother. She wanted to make him disappear. She wanted to trade him back for her mother, for her childhood, for her life as she had thought it would be. How could she care for him when he had so carelessly destroyed her safety and order? How could she not hate him for murdering her mother? The baby lay in Elizabeth’s arms, indifferent to her struggle or the power it would have in his life. He helplessly assumed that someone would take care of him, that he was entitled to her protection, perhaps, even her love. This primal infant arrogance in the face of all reason disarmed Elizabeth, as it had most women since Eve.”
Obediah, a solitary Irish immigrant boy who is indentured and crippled in a coal mine accident in Pennsylvania.
“Obediah was small for his age, skinny and long legged, with a friendly, reddish blonde cowlick that set off mischievous blue eyes. His capricious nature and quick wit got around the mining camp bullies, in spite of his size. For two years, Obediah kept his extra set of clothes neatly folded with his few belongings in a worn potato sack, ready at a moment’s notice for his father to come to get him. By the third year, the arrangement had become a habit, not really an expectation. In reality, none of the pit boys ever left the mines until they were eighteen. Then, they were either hired by the company or sent off on their own. If Obediah still held any hope of going home, he kept it to himself.
Mizheekey, an odd, but intriguing Ojibwe young woman who is raped after a battle with the Lakota’s and moves into the mountains by the great lake in Wisconsin to have her baby.
“Mizheekay was an odd little girl. She rarely made eye contact, but when she did, her almost black eyes seemed as if they looked directly into your soul – or maybe didn’t see you at all. She spoke infrequently and often to no one in particular. When she did speak, activity around her always stopped to listen. Some scoffed. Some smiled. Some were puzzled. But throughout the days, sometimes weeks, to follow, her words drifted in the minds of her unintended audience, forming thoughts, questions, or forgotten memories that made them wonder about this peculiar child and find excuses to be around her again. Some elders thought that Mizheekay would have sacred visions and bring great wisdom to their people. Others believed that she was just a simple-minded child. Mizheekay did not notice or care about either of their impressions.”
The families of these unlikely ancestors will cross each other in the growing sprawl of America, touching, nodding, or passing unknown. Innocent encounters will change their collective lives; random acts of courage, weakness, anger, or compassion will alter the course of their personal and combined histories.
In 1886, a passionate affair between Elizabeth’s brother, Samuel, and Mizheekey’s granddaughter, Morning Star, will be ended by the Meeker Massacre in White River, Colorado, evoking a curse that will dramatically impact the descendants of all four families. Their children and their children’s children will carry its scars and consequence as they shape the Seventh Generation that is our world today.
“In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations.”
From the Great Binding Law of the Iroquois Confederacy
comprised of the Mohawk, Onondaga, Oneida, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora peoples.