Illuminating History’s Shadows Through Fiction

Illuminating History’s Shadows Through Fiction

Before the Civil War, Before the Trail of Tears…

… the little-known story of John Ridge, a Cherokee man dedicated to his people and his White wife, Sarah, a woman devoted to his search for justice…

In 1818, at the dawn of America’s Second Great Awakening, Skaleeloskee – accomplished son of a Cherokee tribal leader – embarks on a journey that will forever change him and the history of his people. With a thirst for knowledge, and now known as John Ridge, he and his cousin Elias are selected to attend the Foreign Mission School in Connecticut for a gentlemen’s education. John’s thoughtful mind excels, and Elias is held as exemplar for his pious and humble Christian nature.
Untainted by prejudice in an era of progressive movements, John falls in love with the school steward’s independant daughter, Sarah Northrop. A firestorm of controversy is set off by the marriage between a Red man and a White woman. John and Sarah return to the Cherokee Nation envisioning a better world, a world they can have a hand in shaping.

Capitol View, Charles Burton

Following his father, Kanuntaclage – The Ridge – into politics, John and his family devote themselves to seeing Cherokee society flourish. A vision of autonomy in their homeland appears within reach when tensions arise with the State of Georgia and the rising power of Southern Democrats led by Andrew Jackson. John and his family are thrust into the Indian Removal Crisis threatening to destroy the American Union, and lead to their people’s extinction.


American Writing Awards – Finalist, Historical Fiction

Feathered Quill Awards – Finalist, Historical Fiction

Chanticleer International Book Awards (CIBA) – Finalist, Laramie Award for Americana Fiction.

Eric Hoffer Book Awards – Finalist, Da Vinci Eye Award.

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Reviews for Red Clay, Running Waters

“Red Clay, Running Waters is the creation of something sweeping yet intimate, historically accurate yet reflective of current issues, and, through it all, written with precision, grace and lyrical elegance. This is a splendid, splendid work.”

—GREG FIELDS, author of ‘Through the Waters and the Wild’

Timely and Relevant

President Andrew Jackson

As relevant today as the events were two hundred years ago, Red Clay, Running Waters looks behind the devastating Cherokee Trail of Tears, to a time when America’s promise of Liberty and Justice for all was violated.

The legacy of America’s Indian Removal policy on Native American peoples is horrific, the generational impact nearly incomprehensible. Nevertheless, First Nations people have endured, with cultures that continue to influence American Society – in spite of Andrew Jackson’s Southern Democrats best efforts. Sadly, our lives and cultural memories are short, often becoming unbalanced by the scales of common wisdom and the voices of the victors.

While a work of fiction, all the major events and individuals in this story are real historical figures, many of whom have had a significant impact on the events of their times and beyond. John Ridge’s life was a  tangram of critical events, one that continues to intrigue me, and to grip my heart. His life and the lives of the Ridge Family continue to have an impact in the Cherokee community to this day. Many of the letters, spoken words, speeches, and writings are from original sources, only modified slightly for readability. They are woven into the prose, the words aligned with the times  they were spoken ( or written).

Click here for the curated list of references used on the Resources page

America still lives with the questions that linger from the crisis surrounding ‘The Indian Question’ – questions about sovereignty, justice and rights, unresolved questions posed in Red Clay, Running Waters that still drive our society today.