Melissa Hardy. Broken Road. Holstein, ON: Exile Editions, 2009.

Cherokee mythology includes the legend of the ulunsuti, the powerful transparent stone taken from the forehead of an enormous horned serpent, an uktena. Anyone in possession of the ulunsuti has vast power, enjoys great strength, and can find unknown, beautiful places; however, custody of the magical crystal can be both a blessing and a curse. Keepers of the stones are expected to pass them down to members of their families, keeping the whereabouts of the stones a secret.

In Broken Road Melissa Hardy follows the story of the individuals who possess the ulunsuti in Qualla, which is located in southwest North Carolina near the Great Smokey Mountains. Starting with Groundhog’s Mother, members of his family find the benefits and troubles associated with the ulunsuti. For example, his descendants who hold the stone find great business success when they use practices of the white traders. However, there is also much heartbreak within their families, and many of the men turn to alcohol.

One feature of possessing the ulunsuti is being able to see into the future, which means anticipating the violent relocation of the Cherokee people to Oklahoma in 1838. As the ulunsuti is passed down generations, relationships evolve with white individuals such as Miss Sawyer, a schoolteacher whose Christian beliefs are challenged when she decides to move to Qualla and is given the stone. Although the Cherokee are forced to leave their homes, their traditions remain in tact and they stay true to Eloheh, their word for land, history, culture, and religion.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2009, Hardy, Melissa, Historical, Jackson, Mountains, Swain

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