Tademy, Lalita. Citizens Creek. New York, NY: Atria Books, 2014.
Review submitted by Marsha Lytle, Book Review Editor
Lalita Tademy, author of New York Times bestselling novel, Cane River, has captured the spirit and challenges of a family of African-American/Creek Indians in Alabama starting in 1822. Cow Tom is valuable to his master because of his expertise in cattle, translation, and negotiation skills. He hopes to earn enough to buy both his and his wife’s freedom. When he gets a chance to fight the Seminoles in Florida, he has two motives—to find his mother, who was captured by Seminole raiders, and earn more money towards his freedom. He makes a friend for life, Harry, during the war and also rescues his mother.
Years later, Cow Tom has earned his freedom and runs his own farm in Indian Country, but the Civil War comes to Oklahoma. Once more, Cow Tom is forced to move on with his family, now encompassing four generations. With the shelter of a fort to protect them, they are safe from the raids, but starvation is an everyday occurrence in the vast tent city that springs up. Cow Tom is valuable to the leaders and is able to provide for his family better than most.
Rose, his youngest granddaughter, is most like him. She admires her grandfather and the respect he receives. At their new ranch in Oklahoma, they prosper with many cattle, but Cow Tom is getting old and won’t live much longer. Eventually Rose leaves home to work for a family in town, where she meets her future husband. Rose’s growing family prospers, but with the discovery of oil and the impending statehood, new challenges arise when whites arrive to try to trick Indians into selling their land.
This historical fiction novel covers years of events that affected the Native American population in the South and Midwest. A great story.