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Conversations with the High Priest of Coosa Paperback – April 28, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-0807854211 ISBN-10: 0807854212 Edition: 1st
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"I loved reading this book. Cleverly constructed, it affords us a portal into the minds and cosmos of the Southeastern Indians, a world of mounds, monsters, and supernatural beings. This is Charles Hudson at his best." - Jerald T. Milanich, author of Florida Indians from Ancient Times to the Present

Review

An impressive piece of informed imagination. . . . His portrait of particular aspects of sixteenth-century native life demonstrates an accomplished scholar's ability to transcend the source's limitations.--William and Mary Quarterly|A staggering intellectual achievement possible only by someone who has devoted a career to mastering the archaeological, ethnographic, and historical literature on Southeastern Native people.--Michael Green, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill|I loved reading this book. Cleverly constructed, it affords us a portal into the minds and cosmos of the Southeastern Indians, a world of mounds, monsters, and supernatural beings. This is Charles Hudson at his best.--Jerald T. Milanich, author of Florida Indians from Ancient Times to the Present|The most intimate exploration of southeastern Indian cosmology to date. . . . Groundbreaking work.--Florida Historical Quarterly
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press; 1 edition (April 28, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807854212
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807854211
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #988,951 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Michael Polich on December 27, 2003
Format: Paperback
"Conversations with the High Priest of Coosa" is neither good fiction nor good ethnography. Charles Hudson's Coosa worldview is inexplicably almost totally Cherokee in outlook. Hudson says he relied on Cherokee folklore because it was more internally consistent than Muskogean folklore, and that Cherokee had some stories that Muskogean folklore didn't that he thought exemplified the Coosan worldview. Hudson seems to ignore the fact that the Cherokees were different from the Muskogeans for a reason- they were Iroquoian. The Cherokees were not moundbuilders, so why would you rely on the stories of a people that were not moundbuilders to explain the worldview of a moundbuilding people?
Also, why would you totally make up stories? Hudson does just this, and some of the stories he makes up makes you wonder why he did so. For instance, why did he make up the Coosans celebrating a ceremony with dancers dressed up in a dragon costume, when there is NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER THAT THE COOSANS OR ANY OTHER MOUNDBUILDING PEOPLE EVER DID ANYTHING REMOTELY LIKE THAT! Hudson's explanation for doing this are equally as mystifying- he says he was influenced in part by CHINESE CELEBRATIONS FEATURING DANCERS DRESSED LIKE DRAGONS. Does Hudson now believe that the Mississippians were influenced by the Chinese??
Even looking at this book purely as fiction doesn't improve it any. The characters are totally one dimensional, there is no real plot, the narrative reads like a children's book of mostly Cherokee legends, and what little plot there is is boring.
If you're an anthropologist or folklorist, this book will make you tear out your hair with its inaccuracies and badly rationalized extrapolations. Historians and archaeologists should equally avoid this book. This book is bad as either a fictionalized ethnography, fiction, or ethnography.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Teresa on February 5, 2004
Format: Paperback
Ditto what Michael Polich said. More Cherokee than Creek/Muskogee - so why not use a Cherokee town name and say it is Cherokee? Or use John Swanton's Creek Religion and Medicine or Bill Grantham's Creation myths and legends if it is Muskogee? Or just make up a place and say unknown SE American Indian tribe/group/town?
I was just plain old disappointed with this effort by Dr. Hudson. He has done better (Southeastern Indians). This isn't much of a literary effort or "historical fiction."
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Format: Paperback
Charles Hudson apparently never got of his office in Athens, GA. In all his books he seemed to have a extremely inaccurate understanding of the geography and Native American history of the Southern Highlands. When he and his fellow profs visited my office in Asheville, NC on the journey to discover de Soto's path, he was told point blank by me and state archaeologists that there was no occupied Mississippian town in the French Broad Valley during the period when de Soto and Pardo were exploring. No Spanish artifacts had been found around Asheville. Yet that afternoon, the profs gave a press conference that announced that Asheville was the location of Guaxule, the ancient capital of the Cherokee Nation and de Soto had come through there. Guaxule is actually the Creek word for "Southerners." In regard to this book, caution should be taken. The village visited by the Spaniards in 1559 clearly was not in the same location as the Capital of Kusa. However, Hudson equated the two places. The priest, who accompanied them wrote that the village had only 30 houses and no mounds. Kusa was a massive town with 3000 houses and several temple mounds. The priest gave very detailed descriptions of the terrain and stated that two small rivers joined to form one river. The description perfectly matches a village named Ustanauli that was located where the Cherokee capital of New Echota was built. High Priest of Coosa describes several traditions that are totally unknown to the Creek Indians - such as the Chinese Dragon dance. He did not provide references to justify these deviations from Creek cultural tradition. The book is interesting to read, but do not take much of it as historical fact.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amari on June 28, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In the history of man, before religion, people believed in G-d. He was not the G-d that we are taught about today. This book examinees their beliefs. It also shows that they had stories about creation and the flood. Now something’s may be controversial to the average person. I am not saying everything contained in this book is all unquestionable truth, but you can learn about our ancestors and even see parallels to the common church teaching of today. Just keep your mind open.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By gene armistead on October 22, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought the book to do some research into another book I was reading. This book pulled me away. I would read chapters that didn't pertain to the research just because it captured my interest. Great book.
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