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News and Views of The Wampum Keeper
September 13, 2004, The Toronto Public Library has recently acquired a copy of The Wampum Keeper. It is located at the Spadina Branch, in the Native Peoples collection.
July 6, 2004, The Canadian Book Review Annual has recently published its 2002 compilation. Here's what their reviewer, Gillian Kajganich, had to say about The Wampum Keeper:
"Set in 1651 in the Niagara region of Ontario and New York, this work of historical fiction recounts the trials and tribulations of a Chonnonton wampum keeper and his family after their community is attacked by an Iroquois League army. Interwoven with the family's physical struggle for survival is the psychological struggle of the Niagara natives to understand, and come to terms with, the "One God" theology imposed on many Huron converts by the French Jesuits.
An introduction by the author helps us to understand the historical basis of the novel, particularly the custom of ritual cannibalism, the traditional role of the wampum keeper, and the effects of European contact (particularly with respect to alcohol, disease, and trading) on Native American culture. Montague describes her fascination with her historical topic as a "germ" that fuelled her quest to understand. As readers, we come to share her fascination."
January 23, 2004, Some of my old journalism 'clips' may be of interest:
Guelph's Catholic Hill: A hotbed of Scottish Rite Freemasonry?
John A. Macdonald: Guelph's Most Famous Land Speculator
Guelph's Wheat King: Arthur Cutten
April 2003, Review of "The Wampum Keeper" from the Ontario Historical Society Bulletin, Issue 139:
"This is a fictional but well-researched account of the terrible dilemma of the Niagara region's aboriginal peoples in the mid-17th century. Shalinka, the wampum keeper and leader of his small clan, is torn with doubt as to how to save his followers. It is a time of crippling stress as his People of the Deer struggle to come to terms with the new life brought by the French traders with their 'marvellous' trade goods. Even less welcome are the Black Robes with their strange new religion and their horrendous diseases. War with their traditional enemies, the Iroquois, is intensified. In desperation, many of Shalinka's people want to join the Iroquois confederation; others want to fight to the death, mistrusting the duplicity of their enemies. It is a tale of strange visions, of treachery, of warfare and death by torture. Shalinka's longing for peace seems doomed."
Three reviews of The Wampum Keeper + a note from Pat
April 2, 2002, Interview with Lida E. Quillen, publisher of Twilight Times.
May 11, 2002, I signed a 4-year contract with Deron Douglas of Double Dragon Publishing -- for an English edition of The Wampum Keeper eBook. Double Dragon is based in Markham, Ontario; release date for Deron's edition of TWK, June 1, 2002. Deron also wants to publish a paper edition of TWK. He is a Mohawk, a member of the Iroquois League. "The Wampum Keeper" has caught his interest: I've told a story about his own people.
A few years ago, right after I finished writing TWK, I pledged to myself that I'd donate some of my profits to a scholarship fund for native and métis students. I pledged too that as I set out to exploit my TWK property rights I'd ask for a similar donation from my partners. Deron Douglas has offered to donate 5% of his TWK profits to this fund. With one partner signed up, my dream of a scholarship fund is on the road to reality.
May 14, 2002. I received a letter with kind words of praise from University of Ottawa historian Dr. C.J. Jaenen. I quote several times in my TWK Author's Introduction from C.J's Friend and Foe: Aspects of French-Amerindian Cultural Contact in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. I also quote him in my Explore the World page.
In his letter, Dr. Jaenen insisted that I read Divine Hunger: Cannibalism as a Cultural System by Peggy Reeves Sanday. I am doing so now.
July 18, 2002. In Divine Hunger: Cannibalism as a Cultural System, Peggy Sanday writes:
"The ferocity of the torture rituals cannot be separated from the severity of conditions during the seventeenth century where death, torture, disease, and warfare became a way of life. It was torture and warfare or give up altogether. In the end, the Huron did give up and fled. Two Huron "captains" came to the Jesuits and described their plight, saying, "Thou has seen more than 10 thousand of us dead at thy feet; if thou wait a little longer, not one of us will be left to thee."
July 24, 2002. Netting. In an early chapter of The Wampum Keeper, guests at the Hawk mother's hearth gathering sit with their fish netting materials in their laps. Making and repairing fishnets was an essential occupation for aborigines, one that I imagined went on with less tedium when done in company.
My interest in netting began in the mid-1980s with the start of the recycling movement. In search of an alternative to plastic shopping bags, I tried to find a netted string bag such as I had used in England twenty years earlier. I couldn't find one. I couldn't even find the tools to make one. Eventually, I carved a hardwood netting needle and mesh stick from designs found in a museum; a craft encyclopedia showed me how to use them. I then designed the string bag that you can see HERE
I invite those interested in netting string bags to avail themselves of the detailed instructions and diagrams that accompany the photo.
August 4, 2002. A good deal of The Wampum Keeper story takes place in what is now Ontario's Grand River Valley. After the dispersal of Tsouharissen's Deer people in the 1650's, this valley lay empty for nearly a hundred and fifty years. After the American Revolutionary War, two groups arrived to settle in the valley: Pennsylvania Mennonites and Six Nations Iroquois. HERE you can read an account of the Mennonites.
August 13, 2002. I've appended this new and much needed sentence to my main promotional piece: "The French Jesuits' ill-fated mission to the Hurons is a central focus of The Wampum Keeper."
Here's another sentence I added to a promotional piece I sent off to the Aboriginal YA Lit thread on the CAN/LIT e-mail List:
"Themes arising in the novel are suggested in the Table of Contents of my Author's Introduction: Ritual Cannibalism in the Northeast; Wampum Keepers; Ritual Cannibalism in Central America; Changes in Iroquoian Warfare; The High Chief Tsouharissen; Smallpox, Drunkenness, and Debauchery."
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