Don Diehl’s historical fictional novel is slated to appear in several Muscogee (Creek) Nation newspapers as early as next week. It’s the anniversary of the Wounded Knee massacre. A caption on the cover reveals the link: “Tomachichi’s Journey to Wounded Knee Creek in 1890”.
Wounded Knee doesn’t have much to do with the history of the Muscogee Nation in Oklahoma, spanning throughout the book, but it was the unintended destination of book hero Tommy Jon Harjo. Discreetly known as the “Tomahawk” by his classmates at the Eufaula Indian Mission School, the 15-year-old Indian Creek from Oktaha, Indian Territory, takes up his grandfather’s challenge to “go see the world” instead of further studies in the fall of 1890 The school attended by the Harjo children and their neighbors was destroyed by fire and is not expected to reopen anytime soon.
Tomachichi and Little Rosa are being raised by their grandparents Jon and Rose McSchmidt after two separate tragedies took the lives of their mother and father. McSchmidt, known as “Uncle Jon” in Oktaha Settlement, had been a cattle driver on the Chisholm Trail. He helps to trace the adventure and the young man sets out. His dog Bramble Boy is discovered following him on that first day and is part of the interesting entourage – an Indian teenager, his horse and his dog. Along the way, they encounter characters true to the story, including members of Chief Sapulpa’s family, outlaw Cherokee Bill, Pawnee Bill, and Cheyenne-Arapaho Chief Left Hand. On Kingfisher’s train to the Northern Plains, Tomahawk befriends writers and photographers covering the turmoil on the reservations and the Ghost Dance phenomenon.
In the introduction to the book, Diehl also explains its title: âINVASIONS: ‘Murder of the Indian’. This is not what you might think. As for the Wounded Knee massacre of nearly three hundred Lakota by US Army soldiers on December 29, 1890 in the Pine Ridge Reservation, Diehl offers the bare results of an invasion in which neither side wins but ends by getting along. âINVASIONS: ‘Killing of the Indian’â examines the history of America’s early occupants – the American Indians while focusing on the Muscogee (Creek) tribe. The setting of the story is the Muscogee Nation as it developed after the Indians moved to Oklahoma.
Unlike much that has been written as history and commented on by secular writers, Diehl approaches the subject with a Christian worldview. The young adventurer, on a journey through Indian country on horseback and by train, becomes a defender of the faith but in Wounded Knee Creek where he becomes an eyewitness to a historic massacre, his faith is called into question. There are surprises about who won Tommy’s faith and why.
Available via Barnes and Noble and Amazon the book is 400 pages long and features color illustrations by Sapulpa artist Russell Crosby. At $ 19.95 on B&N and $ 25.42 on Amazon, the paperback is quite pricey, but given all the color and background material, it’s still a steal.
Following initial comments, future plans call for the publication of an abridged edition early next year that will only contain the story of the adventure and less bibliography. This is essentially what is offered to readers of the newspaper series. The short edition will be cheaper and possibly more widely distributed. âOf course we would like to sell the manuscript and the rights to the film,â Diehl said, citing the current film about the Osage murders in âKillers of the Flower Moonâ. But history buffs and those interested in the Christian worldview will also see the value of the original edition, as its protagonist stands for “the faith” and (somehow by the way) advances the truth about ” a race, a blood, a creator God and a family made up of tribes, clans, languages ââand nations.