I’m celebrating the publication of my novel, Catharine, Queen of the Tumbling Waters, with a book tour. I began with a book launch in Havana Glen, Montour Falls, the very site of the village where my protagonist, Catharine Montour, lived with her people before and during the American Revolution. She was real, another hidden woman of history, an unsung heroine, except to those of us who grew up in the land of her spirit. There is an inscription in Iroquois and English on a memorial rock to Queen Catharine Montour, “Every one of you, always remember this.” Remember what? Some history, conflated and contradictory…a mystery. But we have all loved her and felt her presence in this gorgeous land.
This is the land of the Iroquois, known as the Haudenosaunee, and the Six Nations, a confederacy of Native Americans and First Nations people. They lived in Ontario, upstate New York, and Pennsylvania. Today, they live primarily in New York and Canada, but many live around the United States.
Why would I, a white woman who knew very little about the Iroquois and Catharine Montour, an Iroquois and French woman who lived through the French and Indian War and the American Revolution dare to write a novel about her? To put it simply, and yet there was no simplicity about it, Catharine Montour chose me. Come along with me on my book tour as I blog about my experiences and entice you with Catharine Montour’s life story.
Here are a few photos from my book launch in Havana Glen, Montour Falls, NY
Here is an excerpt from my novel:
“I’m not like your white women who lose their tongues and wits in a house full of men.”
So says Catharine Montour to her white captive during the Indian depredations of the 1750s. Catharine Montour, a métis, born during Pennsylvania’s Long Peace, is nurtured by her grandmother, the celebrated Madame Montour, an interpreter for the British colonies. Her uncle, Andrew Montour, is also an interpreter and sits on the Council of the Iroquois. The Montours are an unconventional, yet highly regarded family who host diverse and fascinating assemblies of fur traders, missionaries, Indians, and colonial leaders in their home.
As the Long Peace ends and the French and Indian War, and eventually the American Revolution occur, Catharine, desiring only to live quietly by a waterfall in New York, becomes a fearless, determined, and passionate leader who demands loyalty to peace in her village and for all. And then in 1779 when General John Sullivan leads the campaign to destroy all Iroquois villages, Queen Catharine, heroically guides her people to Fort Niagara. Today as American exceptionalism prevails against the recognition of indigenous peoples, Catharine’s relevant and fact-based story spans two wars and enlightens and makes visible the unwritten truths of early American history.
Tell all the truth but tell it slant --
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth's superb surprise
As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind --
- Emily Dickinson