The Singing Bird: A Cherokee Novel, a new book edited by Timothy Powell, a former faculty member in UGA’s English department, and Melinda Smith Mullikin, former media editor of The New Georgia Encyclopedia, is a rediscovered novel that portrays Cherokees in transition. The director of UGA’s Institute of Native American Studies, Jace Weaver, wrote the foreword.
John Milton Oskison was a mixed-blood Cherokee known for his writing and his activism on behalf of Indian causes. The Singing Bird, never before published, is quite possibly the first historical novel written by a Cherokee. Set in the 1840s and 1850s when conflict erupted between the Eastern and Western Cherokees after their removal to Indian territory, The Singing Bird relates the adventures and tangled relationships of missionaries to the Cherokees, including the promiscuous, selfish Ellen, the “Singing Bird” of the title. The fictional characters mingle with such historical figures as Sequoyah and Sam Houston, embedding the novel in actual events.
The Singing Bird celebrates Native American cultural complexity and revitalization.