To celebrate the launch of his STONE MAN AND THE TRAIL OF TEARS on 8th October, I'm pleased to host a guest article from author Charles Suddeth. I learned about the Choctaw and their donation to Ireland during the Great Famine back when I was in Primary school and it's a story that has always stayed with me. 

The Choctaw

By Charles Suddeth


The Choctaw call themselves Hacha hatak, River People. In 1492, they lived primarily in the state of Mississippi. Contrary to views about most Native Americans, the Choctaw were farmers. The three sisters—corn, beans, and squash/pumpkins were their staple crops. They lived in chukka, houses covered in mud and grass. They were Mound Builders who they lived in towns Their temples were located on earthen mounds similar to pyramids.


In the 1830s, the US federal government sent several tribes west to the state of Oklahoma to make room for white settlers. Many Native Americans died, so it was called the Trail of Tears. The Choctaw Trail of Tears took place over 3 years: falls of 1831, 1832, and 1833. About 16,000 Choctaw went west. In 1831, a blizzard hit, and food supplies were scarce. Many Choctaw starved to death. In 1832, cholera hit. At least 2,500 Choctaw died, so when the Irish famine hit a few years later, the Choctaw knew of the horrors of starvation.


Today, the Choctaw have 3 federal reservations, small ones in Mississippi and Louisiana, and the main reservation in Oklahoma. Smaller, state-recognized bands also exist in Alabama (1 band), Louisianan (4 bands), Mississippi (1 band), and Texas (1 band). The Choctaw language is still spoken. The Choctaw national sport is ishtaboli, stickball, a type of lacrosse. “Okla” means “people” and “homa” means red—the state of Oklahoma is Choctaw for Red People.


Though I am of Cherokee descent, my great-great grandfather never signed a government roll, so I cannot claim Cherokee citizenship. The Cherokee and Choctaw have many similarities. Both were Mound Builders, farmers, suffered on the Trail of Tears, wore turbans (this surprises many people), and today, they meet yearly for stickball games.


As the Choctaw say, Yakoke. Thank you.

Charles Suddeth has published poetry, picture books, middle reader’s books, young adult thrillers, and adult mysteries in English, Cherokee, and Turkish. He is active with Green River Writers and leads a monthly SCBWI Social. He lives in Louisville and teaches for the Jefferson County Schools. 


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Driven to Stone Man’s trail...


After U.S. soldiers attack twelve-year-old Tsatsi’s Cherokee village, his family flees to the Smokey Mountains. Facing storms, flood, and hunger, they’re forced to go where Stone Man, a monstrous giant, is rumored to live. 


His family seeks shelter in an abandoned village, but soldiers hunt them down. Tsatsi and his sister Sali escape, but Sali falls ill and is kidnapped by Stone Man. Tsatsi gives chase and confronts the giant, only to learn this monster isn’t what he seems.


Their journey is a dangerous one. Will Tsatsi find the strength to become a Cherokee warrior? And will they ever find their family?


Print ISBN 9781939844620

EBook ISBN 9781939844651

Release date – October 8, 2019


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