“The Spanish Bit Saga” by Don Coldsmith

When I lived in Romania, I had a friend who was a history teacher from a Christian school in Tennessee who used to like to come to Romania and spend summers and eventually stayed for a while and taught at the Pedagogical High School in Sibiu.  He handed me an extremely interesting set of historical novels.  They were completely research ed, and about the American Indians.  They were not actual stories, and none of the tribes are mentioned by name, but they are about the way that life used to be, and the author made up names for the tribes.  For example, all the tribes were afraid of the “Blue Paints,” but we never learn exactly who they were, but we learn their traits, and if we know about the different Indian tribes, we can figure out who they are. I really recommend this set of books.

native american chief photography
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I read every one in this series. It was really worth my time.  One of this teacher’s students liked to come and help us in Romania too, and he was from a family like mine that was part Indian, and this student’s parents liked him to learn about Indians. He read the series too, and anyone who is Indian or part Indian or just interested in Indians should read these books.

They are supposed to be about before the white men came to American, but there is one little hitch because there had been someone from Spain there who left his influence.  I really liked the book about the Traveler.  I could relate to him, and I wondered if he was a Cherokee.  He learned the languages of all the tribes, and no one was afraid of him.  He told stories, and he traded.  He went from tribe to tribe freely because no one was afraid of him.

two gray frying pans hanging on wall
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I always remembered that the American Indian ladies were extremely happy about pots and pans when the Europeans brought them.  The books explain how the American Indian ladies cooked before pots and pans.  They all had “cooking stones.”  They would build a fire, and next to the fire, they would dig a hole.  They would line the hole with an animal skin.  They filled the animal skin with water.  They put their cooking stone into the fire, and then into the water, into the fire, and then into the water.  That is how they heated the water so they could make stews and soups or just boil their meat and vegetables.  It was very interesting to read about. No wonder they wanted pots and pans so badly!

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I also read about the buffalo hunts.  I was shocked to find out that after they Indians killed a buffalo, they would cut the liver and out and eat it raw because they thought that was when it had the most vitamins.  The books also talked about them making beef jerky to have meat to eat through the winter.

The knowledge I have about the origin of the Pow Wows, the big Indian meetings, came from these books.  They were originally family reunions.  If it was hot outside and hard to sleep, I learned there was a way for them to cook their tepees off by raising them.

zoo bear
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It was interesting to learn that many tribes would not kill bears.  Bears walk on two legs, and it made the Indians feel like they were their brothers.  They felt related to the bears, so wouldn’t kill them.  The books also told about the vision quests and how they got their spirit guides.

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There is a story about the witch doctor. It tells how the witch doctors are chosen and what they do. It is their job to maintain the belief in the witch doctor,  and only the ones trained as witch doctors have the knowledge of the witch doctors.  I read an extremely interesting story about how a witch doctor found a tick on someone who was running a fever, but he didn’t just remove the tick.  He did an elaborate ceremony to keep the belief in the witch doctor going. During that ceremony, he blew a cloud of smoke into the air, and in that smoke, he removed the tick when no one could see him.  After the ceremony, he told the people the sick person would get better, and he did. They thought it was because of the ceremony, but it was because he removed the tick. His elaborate deception kept them believing in the witch doctor because often the witch doctor could use the belief to cure them.  It is like when the doctor today gives us a placebo.  We believe the doctor is giving us a pill to cure our problems, so we get better because we believe.  The witch doctor used the same method.  He was also trained in the knowledge of a lot of different healing plants.  When I read this account, it helped me understand many things about the world, not just about the American Indians, but also about how the wizards probably were in old England, how the Juju men work in Nigeria, and how many others who seem to do magic work.

I really recommend this book series.  It will open your eyes about so many things in the world just be recounting history.  As I said, the stories are not real, but the situations and the way of doing things were carefully researched, and written into these stories.  They were recommend to me by my friend who was a history teacher, and they are well worth reading. They help us understand how the Indians lived, but they also help us understand other cultures around the world, and on top of that are very interesting stories.

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