Book Two of The Saga of the Seventh Generation
by C. J. Hotchkiss
RIPPLES is the second book of the trilogy, The Saga of the Seventh Generation, which tells the stories of four families struggling to define America. At the end of the first book, Mato, has cursed Samuel Stanton for abandoning his daughter. It is a curse of anger and betrayal that plays out for both Samuel and Mato’s families. Each character of the second book builds a piece of the foundation of the Seventh Generation.
Willie Bear, the blue eyed, half breed son of Samuel and Morning Star, is a dangerous combination of spoiled love, shame, and anger.
“By six years of age, Willy Bear could not remember a world that contained an indulging father or an unworried mother. His father was quite suddenly gone. No one would speak of him, as if he had never existed in anyone’s memory. His mother had become quiet and distracted. She focused resolutely on the immediate tasks of the day while her mind threatened to unravel itself. His grandfather, Mato, had become preoccupied, talking to himself and begging forgiveness for something. With every passing day, the young Willy Bear began to hate the whiteness in his blood and the blueness of his eyes. He bullied younger children, splattered frogs, and ridiculed his elders, hoping to prove himself a warrior – an Indian warrior. Half-breeds, the intimate blend of sworn enemies, carried the full weight of broken promises and duplicity.”
Raven, the strong willed daughter of Willie Bear and Isha’s granddaughter, Willow, defiantly rejects the compromises of her ancestors and surrenders to neither world nor person that attempts to regulate or diminish her.
“Raven never met either of her grandfathers, but her gene pool swam with the powerful contradictions of these two men. From her father’s father, Samuel Stanton, she inherited a categorical sense of privilege, triggering her to buck and lash out at any restrictive definition of “Indian” or “woman” or “respectability”. This legacy then set fire to the outrage and resistance she had inherited from Awahili Geluhvsga, her mother’s father, the Screaming Eagle. Raven’s first childhood memory was of two large white men barging through the door of her third birthday party, dragging off her beloved father. She never saw him again.”
Mary Magdalene, Raven’s unwanted daughter, is left at The Holy Sacrament Abbey under the loving watch of Sister Catherine. A loving and curious baby, Maggie soon charms and heals the belligerent people charged with her care.
“By the time Maggie was walking, her laughter, playfulness, and generosity infused the Abbey with genuine charity. The girl still did not talk, but the happiness in her small, sparkling eyes required no words. Her gait was awkward and her hand movements clumsy, but none of the nuns, or even the parishioners who had also come to love the child, talked any more about the defects or imperfections that a more objective observer might easily ascribe to the effects of fetal alcohol. Maggie was a joy, complete and perfect. Whatever she could not do, someone felt privileged to do for her. When she did not understand something, it cultivated patience in her teacher. The child’s simple lovingness reminded each person of her or his own bedraggled innocence. With a loving pat on their hand, she rekindled their efforts to be a better person.”
Nick, Samuel’s grandson by his marriage to Abigail, is charmed by his grandfather’s stories of adventures in Colorado, especially tales of the beautiful Indian Princess and the adventurous boy named Willie Bear.
“Nick unwrapped the book and felt the soft deerskin that had held the pages together for so many years. They were pounded and sewn together with a softened sinew or cord. It plainly had been opened carefully, but many times, creasing the edge of each page so that the book lay flat at every turn. The drawings were mostly of nature, delicate and detailed, making each object familiar in retrospect. The Indian Princess had been an artist. Nick suddenly knew. For a long time, he had suspected that the characters in his grandfather’s stories were not imaginary at all. He was holding in his hands the cherished drawings of an artist, a real human being. As he turned the last page, he was rewarded with the mythical face of his imaginary friend. Willie Bear.”
Chastity, Maggie’s stolen daughter, is placed in a foster home in Gallup, New Mexico until she runs away with her best friend into a modern day ghetto of drugs and violence.
“So it was, that with all good intentions, Chastity, or Chaz as she was soon called, was watched and disciplined so carefully, that she became a tangled mess of everything she did wrong. The conflict between her parents’ preaching and her own defiance soon convinced the strong willed child of her own unworthiness. To Chaz, it was less painful to be defiant than disappointing. If truth were known, which it wasn’t, she wanted more than anything to be good, but no matter how hard she tried, she always let everyone down, including herself. So, with a shrug, she stopped trying. The easiest way she found to do this was to drink.”
Matthias, grandson of Nick, was drafted into the Vietnam War, and returned a broken and angry man, intent on fighting injustice in his world and in his family.
“ He wrote whatever he could articulate in the leather journal his grandfather had given him. Every day, he tried to find something good to believe in. He believed in the dark silent sky full of nameless stars that would still be there when the war was over. He believed in the shy smiles of the village children when he offered them a piece of candy. He believed in the men’s laughter when they gathered, alive at the end of a patrol. Matt believed in the friendship that held the squad together – no, not friendship, it was actually love. He believed that each one of them would risk his life to save him and, in spite of his own desperate desire to be home and safe, knew he would do the same. It was a rough, naked kind of goodness that he came to believe in. A glimpse of humanity that was still there when all the crap and ugliness was brushed away.“
As each family struggles with the curse of betrayal, battles are won and many lost. The secrets hidden in their lives reveal the cost and connections of diversity in a rugged, wounded land. Willie Bear falls in love with Isha’s granddaughter, Willow. Raven strikes out at the world, owning her own life, but giving up the vulnerability that would allow her to be a mother. Samuel reveals the hidden secret of his childhood and passes his stories on to his grandson, Nick. Nick follows those stories and becomes close friends with Sarah and her son, Charlie. Charlie and Nick’s offspring connect the world that their move to this new world has replaced. And hope is born in a child named Jessie.
“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.