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Neespaugot: The Legend of the Indian's Coin Kindle Edition
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Over the course of 400 years, the reader witnesses the (mostly positive) transformative powers of the coin in the possession of a large and diverse cast of characters. These characters and their family members, who range from the despicable, to the tragic, to the heroic, share a common attribute – they all must deal with senseless prejudice, often manifested by hate and brutality, due to the color of their skin. Happily, the coin ends up in possession of a young women who is proud of her heritage, has inherited some of the best traits of developed by her determined and transcendent ancestors, and, in our relatively more-tolerant society, appears destined for success and happiness. As one of her ancestors might have proudly proclaimed, “She’s a mover, not a moper.”
This book, which is a testament to the benefits to society of immigrants and mixed ethnicities, is timely given today’s political climate in which nativism and immigration restrictions are driving forces. The book will also be of special interest to the growing ranks of amateur genealogists resulting from the proliferation of inexpensive DNA testing by family-tree websites (e.g., Ancestry.com, 23andMe, GEDmatch, etc.). Today’s myriad of genealogists, who are discovering the ethnic diversity of their own families and the hurdles cleared (and not cleared) by their ancestors, can relate to the incredible and rich generational stories that constitute this book.
Runinniduk, whose name means Snow Hare, is an interesting character. Although he is native he is fair skinned, blue eyed, and looks more like a white man than a member of his people. Once revered, when a tragedy caused by the white men causes the deaths of an entire village, Runinniduk is blamed because of his resemblance to the whites. After surviving a severe punishment, he returns to his people and is given a seat on the tribal council. It is his vote that allows the white people to survive and after many years he questions his decision. He is watching his people and the land they live on slowly being taken over by the strangers from across the sea, the People of the Boat.
Mugglebee skillfully integrates the language of the natives throughout these beginning chapters, setting an authentic tone for the book. The events that follow lead to the coin falling into the possession of Runinniduk’s granddaughter, Melba Blue Jay, who is as pale and blue eyed as her grandfather. When circumstances lead to her arrest, she is chained along with almost two hundred other natives and sent aboard a slave ship to the West Indies. Her name is changed to Clarisse where she is sold into a life of slavery and prostitution.
The descriptions of her life in the nightmare world of slavery are torturous and painful. Amazingly she survives and gives birth to children. A series of dramatic events lead to eventual freedom and she is allowed to escape along with her children. Arriving in New France, present day Canada, the land of the Iroquois and the Mohawk, she began a new life. In her heart, she hopes to someday return to Neespaugot. Eventually, she and her daughter make the long journey. The people they find on their return are the descendants of Massasoit, Metacomet, and Africans.
Following the coin through generations, Mugglebee weaves the voyage of the coin through the lives of the descendants of Runinniduk; a fascinating historical trail that leads from country to country, one hand to another, to the year 2015 and Ruth who is determined to wrest the coin from her uncle Ezra Roxxmott. He describes himself as a “…Native American and African, and Chinese, and Irish, and Russian and Jew and Muslim…”. The coin has returned to Neespaugot, completing a cycle that leads to yet another confrontation. The inscription is no longer readable, the purpose a mystery.
In this time in our history, the tale of the coin as it traversed the world, drawing from each culture and nation incorporated by the descendants, is the tale of America. We are all a blend of the paths our forebears have traveled and Neespaugot is, in many ways, the story of each of us. Capturing the flavors of the past and incorporating them into one final blend of biological uniqueness, Mugglebee holds up a mirror in which every reader might see their own exceptional identity.
I adore books that take a seemingly obscure object and explore the history connected with that object. When I come across a family heirloom I often wonder where that object got its start, whose hands it has passed through, and how it may have influenced the lives of others. Add in true historical facts and I'm hooked. It is my belief that if history was taught through story-telling more of us might have been interested.
In Neespaugot: The Legend of the Indian's Coin we are treated to a wonderfully written and researched story that highlights several social problems still alive today. In fact, the Indian Runinniduk is himself of mixed origin with blonde hair and blue eyes - a pariah of sorts within his own tribe. We also follow along as the village of Neespaugot grows over the centuries into a modern town with all the vices and virtues thereof. Some readers may find the early chapters a bit slow but I urge you to stick with the story. Plenty of action, adventure, intrigue, and a bit of Puritan style romance make this a well rounded book.
I received a copy of this book from Teddy at Virtual Authors Tour; this in no way influenced my review.
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Powerful and fascinating men and women that carry out the vision of their ancestors...Read more