Letters From Readers

Dear Mr. Wilkinson,

I am a retired Folklore professor at Indiana University, a native Texan from Abilene, a graduate of U.T., Austin (1965), and a registered member of the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma. I have kinsmen in both Oklahoma and in Qualla Boundary Reservation in North Carolina, as well as Texas, of course. I am a mixed blood Cherokee; Scottish is my other heritage, as my grandmother, several greats ago married a Scott who was fleeing George II after his war against Bonnie Prince Charlie. Grannie Scootie was the daughter of Kuna Shote, the first son of Amatooya. Kuna Shote was the fire-keeper of Echota in what is now Tennessee, and which lent its name to the later capital in Georgia. It was one of the sacred towns of the Overhill Cherokees. Major Ridge is the grandson of Amatoya by his second (or third) son, so I mark Ridge Walker as one of my kinsmen, along with the Waitie’s. Two of my ancestors fought in General Stand Waitie’s army and were killed by Yankees. They are buried in the same grave and share a single, double-arched tombstone.

I must tell you that I was captivated by your book Oblivion’s Altar from the first page on. I even read the acknowledgments at the end and the writings on the back cover. A few years ago I took the Cherokee history course, offered by the Nation. I was too ashamed to say anything about my kinship with the Ridges, even when our teacher, Miss Julia Coates, pointed out that his motivation was that he saw what was coming. Miss Julia is now my council representative. In fact, there was a noisy, unpleasant reaction to her statement from the people in the class. After reading your book, I will no longer bear the shame about my kinsman I have borne all these years. Yeah, I know, your book is fiction, but it is based upon fact, and in my discipline, I have learned that there is a thin line between history and fiction.

I have never before been able to look at the Ridge’s point-of-view as I have by reading your book. I began to cry in Charlie Blue’s chapter, and cried off and on for the rest of the book. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for writing this book. You have cured a pain in my heart that I have borne for many years. May the Creator grant you many more prosperous years, and hopefully inspire you to write another book about the great Cherokee Nation.

Yours most sincerely,
John Wm. Johnson
(Galvlo’i Awohat’li)

Dear David,

I purchased your book, on a whim, after you spoke at a luncheon in Dallas about six years ago. At that time, I was not a reader and only bought the book because I had never owned a book signed by the author. I grew up with undiagnosed ADD and had always regarded reading as torture rather than a pleasurable past time and had no illusion that I would read this one.

One day, after I grew tried of going through the paper during my commute to work each day, I finally picked up Not Between Brothers and thought I would attempt to read it. Within a few pages, and for the first time ever for me, my mind’s eye was seeing, hearing, and feeling the essence of each character and event. Each day I couldn’t wait to get on the bus to begin reading. There were many times that I would be so engulfed in my reading that I would only be brought back to reality when people started filing off the bus.

After I read Not Between Brothers, I read Kathryn Graham’s autobiography and The Private Life of Chairman Mao and many more.

I just finished Not Between Brothers for the second time. Of all the books that I have read between the first and second reading of your book, it still remains my favorite book. In fact, I liked it more the second time.

I promised myself that I would write you someday and thank you for the joy that your book started in my life, the joy of reading.

This is the first time that I have looked you up on the “web” and was happy to see that you have another book on the market. It will be my next read.

Thank you for your amazing gift to the literary world in this book. Thank you for your unwitting gift to me. I remain one of your most avid fans.

Mark Grimes