Book: Storykeeper (Nine-Rivers Valley) by Daniel A. Smithcategories: Book, Historical, Storytelling, Literary, Epic, Native American, Pre-American History
Daniel A. Smithabout this book: Spanish Conquistadors were the first Europeans to cross the Mississippi River in the summer of 1541 into Arkansas, the state I grew up in. It is common knowledge that the Hernando de Soto and an army of traveled through our state 460 years ago. Yet, almost no one knows much about what they discovered, a fertile, densely populated land of ten different nations speaking five different languages; a place and people who were completely different from the normal perception of Native Americans.
These first Arkansans lived in one and two-story log lodges inside large bustling towns with towering temple mounds and ceremonial plazas the size of football fields, all surrounded by massive fortified walls and man-made moats. The people of Casqui, one of the nations De Soto encountered, proclaimed him to be the "Son of the Sun" and begged for an object that they might worship after his departure.
De Soto ordered a cross, constructed from the land's tallest tree, to be planted on top of the seven-story temple mound of Casqui as thousands gather to watch the first recorded Catholic mass in America. The day-long consecration ceremony began with a grand procession of over a hundred Conquistadors in polished breastplates and shiny metal helmets riding atop never before seen armored horses, followed by hundreds of tattooed warriors and chiefs in brightly colored plumed headdresses.
Always on the hunt for the kinds of riches he had plundered from South America years before, De Soto left Casqui and marched on a larger neighboring nation. Thousands of their warriors retreat to a hastily fortified island in the middle of the Mississippi River. The Casquis provided hundreds of canoes and wondrous boats carved from a single giant cypress tree each capable of carrying forty to fifty warriors for the first amphibious assault on American soil.
These are a few of the visually sweeping, historically documented events relived through the perspective of the early inhabitants of America. The history and stories of the nations and people De Soto encountered have all faded from the land.
STORYKEEPER approaches that forgotten time in American history as a story of stories, not by design, but by dictate. For with these ancient people without a written language, the telling of stories was not only important, but essential to continuing their culture and way of life.
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