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Song of Tides

Tom Joseph

Publication Year: 2008

Beginning with their battle against the forces of Ponce de Leon, the Calusa Indians of southwest Florida entered a dark period of European invasion and native resistance, which changed the nature and course of life on the North American continent.
Song of the Tides is a work of anthropological fiction that is set during the period of the Spanish entrada into southwest Florida and their encounters with the Calusa. Relying on letters and memoirs, especially those of explorer Pedro Menendez de Aviles, shipwrecked captive Escalante Fontaneda, and the Jesuit priest Juan Rogel, Joseph has woven a tale of vivid historical detail and compelling human drama. Working with Calusa scholars, the author has created a superbly written account of the clash of two proud and dominant cultures. Told through the voice of Aesha, daughter of the great Calusa chief Caalus, as well as those of other political and spiritual leaders, the fictional narrative spans half a century of conflict with Spanish soldiers and Jesuits, infighting between bands, struggle to preserve their culture, and eventual defeat of the Spanish through wit and deceit.

Published by: The University of Alabama Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7

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Author's Note

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pp. vii-ix

Though Song of the Tides is a work of fiction, every attempt has been made to follow accurately the written accounts from the era made by European visitors. Unfortunately, while archeologists have compiled a wealth of material knowledge of Calusa culture and history, theirs was not a written language; nor do oral records survive. ...


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pp. x-xi

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pp. 1-6

To many, the idea of a female leader was preposterous. But my father, Caalus, was the great unifier of the people of Escampaba, the people who now bear his name. It was his duty to pass to his offspring the royal insignia. Caalus produced no sons, though, only me. To wear the beaded leggings, ...

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pp. 7-20

Caalus stood before the temple, the shadow of his compact, muscled body projecting oddly long and angular onto the latticed walls. He dared not go inside for fear of disturbing Ishkara. For eight days now, his brother had secluded himself in the sanctuary of the inner temple. Only a journey of great import would have kept him there so long. ...

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pp. 21-28

The people now shared a common name, Calusa, the followers of Caalus. Caalus’s storehouses overflowed with treasures both fundamental and fanciful: deer hides, antlers, and bones; barracuda, mackerel, and shark jaws; egret, heron, eagle, and osprey feathers; tortoise and sea turtle shells; cypress knees and gumbo-limbo knots. ...

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pp. 29-40

As if a ride on the royal barge were not wonder enough, First-born arrived to find both Father and Ishkara already seated on the high platform spanning the two pine canoes. What luck having Father here. For the longest time he’d not come to play with her or to stroke her hair as she fell asleep, ...

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pp. 41-60

In the moon of turtle laying, when the air hung soggy over the tepid bay, Carlos wed Aesha and Stepana wed Escuru in a single ceremony. The idea had been Ishkara’s. Why not? There was already widespread whispering that Stepana’s marriage to Escuru would give him status equal to the young heir’s. ...

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pp. 61-80

Aesha leapt off the loaded canoe when it was still in waist-deep water, nearly capsizing the dugout and dumping both Iqi and Escalante in the bay. She splashed to shore, the touch of the island bringing shiver bumps to her flesh. It was even more beautiful than she remembered, though its attraction was hard to pinpoint. ...

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pp. 81-96

Ishkara wasn’t sure why he felt so fatigued. True, he was entering his sixtieth sun, not ancient but certainly exceeding the norm now. Aricata, Odobro, and others of his age had set forth on their journeys to the land beyond. An increasingly persuasive voice told him the time was nearing to join them. ...

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pp. 97-108

They traveled with a sizeable staff of servants charged with paddling for them and protecting them, but Carlos preferred to take the lead in a solo canoe, and Escalante usually followed just behind. Upon reaching their destination, the exotic Spaniard would shock the audience by speaking in the Spanish tongue ...

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pp. 109-124

Nine-times-nine cypress posts set in a wide circle served as the bones of the great building, each carved and painted in a story scene. A skin of woven palm walls was lashed tight to the posts, with open-air windows in every third span to help dissipate the heat of all the anticipated bodies. ...

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pp. 125-140

In the moon of numbing waters, biting winds could heave the sea and make a choppy mess of the bay, rendering any journey a wet and miserable one. Iqi didn’t relish traveling to Caalus. Perhaps he’d even be forced to take refuge at a settlement along the way. When the occasional traveler washed onto the shore of the Thumb, ...

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pp. 141-166

And oh glorious night. The stars are out, the ones that will lead me home. Such a word, home. Would that I could leave tonight for Salamanca, the home I’ve never known. At least sleep with my brother Christians. But the Adelantado begged me to remain with the Indians, to open my ears, to relay any mischief they may have planned. ...

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pp. 167-184

Ask anyone, child or elder, ground dweller or noble, which moon marked the change from dry season to wet and they would answer the same: it was the moon of the purple hands. With the warming of the sea came moist air borne on gentle breezes, blown by the sun from the east in the morning and from the west in the afternoon. ...

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pp. 185-196

Despite his promise, I did not believe the Adelantado would ever return. As great a leader as he was—is—still the man does not know these Indians as I, only I, do. I pleaded with him not to leave so small a contingent, only fifty men, in Caalus; but now I am a soldier and must obey orders. ...

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pp. 197-220

Finally, a flock of his own, a purpose. The endless string of misfortunes, of suffering, anguish, and loss, that had so long accompanied Father Juan Rogel only strengthened his conviction that at last he’d found his sacred calling. On this island of savages, he was utterly without support, for the soldiers the Adelantado had left behind ...

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pp. 221-230

“Or did you mean to force the Christians to recognize the power of our gods?” She sat numbly, her eyes following the smoke from the still smoldering staff. It wafted toward the now-closed gate of the fort, found the cracks and spaces, and entered the Spaniards’ compound. ...

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pp. 231-256

Poor Father Rogel. How he suffers in the sun, the heat building up inside his black cassock, beads of sweat running down his sideburns and staining his collar. The soldiers joke that the reason he holds his head so high in the air is to spare his nose from the stench of his body. ...

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pp. 257-268

Never again would he put himself in that position. Father Rogel was devastated by the weakness he had shown, but angry, too. Exploiting vulnerabilities was the devil’s signature. Aesha the temptress had lured him into a trap; in his arrogance, he’d strolled right into it. The Lord had rescued him from the precipice of the sins of vanity and lust once. ...

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pp. 269-280

Aesha sat in the sanctuary’s candlelight, casine cup at her side, the heavy Christian text resting upon her moss skirt. She bent to put her nose on the tawny outer covering, inhaling its ancient, leathery aroma. Opening the cover, she began to turn pages, not even looking at what was on them, just marveling at their perfect uniformity in size and thickness. ...

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pp. 281-300

He hadn’t intended to stay so long in Spain, just long enough to secure the King’s support and financing. But when Pedro Menéndez arrived in Madrid, back in July the year past, he’d had to refute the slanders of Governor Osorio of Havana and of the handful of deserters from La Florida who’d returned safely to Spain. ...

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pp. 301-320

Iqi sat on a low stool in the temple’s healing area as Aesha boiled firebush leaves, then poured the hot brew on a moss poultice and pressed it hard to his shoulder. “There’s no need to thank me,” he said. “Leave me now. The people need you. Your people.” ...

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pp. 321-322

The ship is loaded, its hold heavy with the Indians’ gold. Even now the soldiers are boarding. A bedraggled lot they are, their scabbed, bony arms poking from torn uniforms, barely able to heft rusted weapons. The queens, Doña Antonia and the others, cluster together on deck, comforting each other. ...

E-ISBN-13: 9780817382889
E-ISBN-10: 0817382887
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817354848
Print-ISBN-10: 0817354840

Page Count: 336
Illustrations: 3 Illustrations
Publication Year: 2008