Friday, June 27, 2008

A Garden Walled Around Trilogy

Volume I: Call Me Bear
Volume II: Call Me Elle
Volume III: Call Me Survivor

This trilogy: Call Me Bear, Call Me Elle, and Call Me Survivor started it all for me. Initially one enormous 600+ page book, it has evolved into this more manageable trilogy. I’ve always been fascinated with Indians: when I was a child I read about them, as a teacher I did extensive classroom projects about them, and in my adulthood I worked as a summer missionary with them. When I started with one fictional white girl I never thought I’d end up in such awe of the tenacious resiliency of the eastern Cherokees. The facts I uncovered in my research could not have been conceived by even the most vivid of imaginations. In the end, I was humbled to have had the privilege of being able to use this magnificent people’s history to help tell my story.

Volume I: Call Me Bear She is Elle Graves. She is 14. She is a captive. She is alone. She is frightened. She is no better than a slave. But she is not a red savage. Her story is wrapped within the historical facts of the Cherokee Nation in the early 19th century at a time when they were at their best and ultimately driven to their worst. Elle experiences the worst of hatred and the best of love as she travels down her life path and strives to reconcile the two worlds that she knows; her white one that she can never escape and the red one that she has chosen to embrace. Elle discovers that family has nothing to do with blood. She learns that a life well lived involves difficult choices that transform you, making you not red, not white, but more closely pink. As she travels her life journey, which involves her head, her heart, and most importantly, her soul, she finds out that she was always a powerful woman even before she knew it.

Volume II: Call Me Elle Her name is Bear. She is happy here in the Indian village she has chosen to call home even though to look at her you would see that she has white skin. At 15, she is the mate of Bright Feather and the people of The Maple Forest are her family. All she loves and holds dear are in this special garden walled around. This is the story of a captive white girl named Elle Graves who transforms into a powerful Indian woman, mate, and mother. The book encompasses a period in the 19th century during which the Cherokee achieved great success. However, dark struggles are looming, threatening all the things that she treasures. The greatest of all threats comes from the white world, a place that Bear was born into but chooses to reject. Worst of all, could her precious garden walled around be in greater danger simply because of the choices she has made to stay? Bear discovers, the hardest of choices that anyone must make has to do with those you love.

Volume III: Call Me Survivor She is Bear, the mate of Bright Feather. She has matured from a frightened, captive, white girl to a mate, mother, and perhaps most importantly, Powerful Indian Woman. She is eighteen years old. Wrapped within the historical facts of the Cherokee Nation during the early 19th century, we watch The Nation struggle inside and outside its borders. During this period, Andrew Jackson becomes president and under this presidency we see their forced migration to land west of the Mississippi and the tragic Trail of Tears in 1839. We see deprivation and deception, broken promises and sorrow. But we also see determination, hope, faith and honesty. As the white world presses in on Bear’s precious garden walled around and all those she holds dear, she must fight to be able to call herself a survivor. For her ability to walk in both the white and the red world might be the best weapon they have to save them all.

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