Teacher of American History Gives a Voice to the Native Americans of Roanoke Island – by Harold Titus

Teacher of American History Gives a Voice to the Native Americans of Roanoke Island – by Harold Titus

As a young teacher of American history, I read several books about England’s attempts to establish a colony on Roanoke Island, and related highlights of the attempts to my students, I was well familiar with what could be called the Roanoke story before I thought to write Alsoomse and Wanchese.

Most of what historians know about the story comes from reports written by eye-witness Englishmen. Missing from their reports is any detailed understanding of the native Algonquians, as human as any Englishman that stepped then on North American soil.

Historian Michael Leroy Oberg wrote: “Indians are pushed to the margins, at best playing bit parts in a story centered on the English. … Roanoke is as much a Native American story as an English one. … We should take a close look at the Indians who greeted and confronted Raleigh’s colonists. … Because Wingina’s people, and his allies and enemies, in the end, determined so much of the fate of the Roanoke ventures, it seems only fair that we concentrate upon them, and how they understood the arrival of the English.

I thought, “Why repeat what other authors of fiction have written about the Roanoke story, almost all of which feature a romantic relationship between an English settler and a local native? Why not, instead, write a story about human conflict within a society that few readers know anything about, making certain that it is character driven, and drawing parallels between its characters and people, and societies today?”

Think for a moment of all the Native American people that inhabited America before the White Man crossed the ocean and began his conquest. These people had no alphabet to form written words to record their life experiences. Any human being – famous or anonymous – who has suffered hardships has a compelling story to tell. Who were these North Carolina flood plain/Outer Bank/Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds Algonquians? What was their culture? Their societal structure? Their rules, beliefs, aspirations, conflicts? How were they similar to Twenty-First Century man, or humankind of any time period?

Two years of research enabled me to weave cultural information into the plot of my story. For example, the first words of the first chapter of Alsoomse and Wanchese reference an important aspect of Algonquian ossuary burials: the preparation of disinterred tribal members originally buried or stored elsewhere for reburial in a single collective grave.

Using a moistened scrap of deerskin, Alsoomse removed dirt and decayed skin cells from the left humerus of her mother’s skeleton.

“I need to know so much,” she whispered. “What I never asked.”

Turning her head, she placed the deerskin on the rim of the clay pot that contained the hot water. She was, maybe, half finished.

She had not cried.

Alsoomse and Wanchese begins in late August 1583 and concludes a year later, several days after English explorers had come to Roanoke, and departed. Their brief presence is but a complication to ongoing Algonquian tribal conflict.

Within every society – advanced or not – exist independent-minded individuals, each compelled to march to the cadence of his own drum. I wanted my two protagonists to be exceptional characters, beings whom my readers would swiftly care about. Rejecting tribal conformity, deciding what is true, what is just, desiring independence, accomplishment, fulfillment, 17-year-old Alsoomse and her 19-year-old brother Wanchese experience tribal blowback. Alsoomse pushes continuously against societal convention, the imposed role of women, the dictatorial authority of men, rulers, and priests.

Wanchese’s short-temper, certain-mindedness, and quest to prove himself worthy of his deceased father’s expectations lead him into life and death situations and dangerous conflict with one of his tribal ruler’s essential subordinates.

Are their actions foolish? Courageous? Praiseworthy? You, the reader, and Alsoomse and Wanchese, separately, will decide.

About the Book

September 1583. Roanoke Island. 17-year-old Alsoomse and 19-year-old Wanchese, sister and brother – strong-willed, quick to oppose injustices – are about to endure a series of events that will test their commitment to realize ambitious goals that endanger their lives and the welfare of individuals close to them.

Wanchese’s short-temper and quest to prove himself worthy of his deceased father’s expectations lead him several times into mortal combat: twice on a trading mission and several times when his tribe attacks its worst enemy. Standing in his way to achieve high status as a warrior is the tribal war chief, Andacon, whose enmity Wanchese incites early in the novel.

Alsoomse pushes continuously against tribal convention, the imposed role of women, and the dictatorial authority of men, rulers and priests. Her outspokenness causes her great hardship during her weroansqua’s tribal visit to Croatoan, and much later when she unwittingly challenges religious belief.

Evil, personified by Askook, brother of the tribe’s weroansqua, disrupts continuously the well-being of the main characters and their friends.

English interest in colonization is narrated intermittently. Explorers and Algonquians interact at the story’s end.

Harold Titus graduated from UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in history. He taught intermediate school English, American history, and a drama elective many years in Orinda, California. He coached many of the school’s boys’ and girls’ sports teams. He is the author of Crossing the River, a historical novel about English and American participants in the first two battles of the American Revolution. He writes about American history and historical fiction on his blog site: http://authorharoldtitus.blogspot.com. He lives with his wife on the central Oregon coast.

This book is available from the publisher, BookLocker.com, as well as from Amazon, BarnesandNoble.com, and many other stores. If purchasing from BookLocker, use this discount code when checking out to get 10% off: Backstory

How do authors get their ideas for books? And, at what point in their lives did these creative individuals decide they wanted to be authors??  READ MORE BOOK BACKSTORIES AND AUTHOR BACKSTORIES RIGHT HERE!






Writing FAST: How to Write Anything with Lightning Speed

A systematic approach to writing that generates better quality quickly!

Chock full of ideas, tips, techniques and inspiration, this down-to-earth book is easy to read, and even easier to apply. Let author Jeff Bollow take you through a process that brings your ideas to the page faster, more powerfully and easier than ever before.

Read more here:


90+ DAYS OF PROMOTING YOUR BOOK ONLINE: Your Book's Daily Marketing Plan by Angela Hoy and Richard Hoy

Promoting your book online should be considered at least a part-time job. Highly successful authors spend more time promoting a book than they do writing it - a lot more.

We know what you're thinking. You're an author, not a marketer. Not to worry! We have more than a decade of successful online book selling experience under our belts and we're going to teach you how to promote your book effectively online...and almost all of our techniques are FREE!

Online book promotion is not only simple but, if you have a step-by-step, day-to-day marketing plan (this book!), it can also be a very artistic endeavor, which makes it fun for creative folks like you!

Yes, online book promoting can be EASY and FUN! Let us show you how, from Day 1 through Day 90...and beyond!


7.625 STRATEGIES IN EVERY BEST-SELLER - Revised and Expanded Edition

At this moment, thousands of would-be authors are slaving away on their keyboards, dreaming of literary success. But their efforts won’t count for much. Of all those manuscripts, trade book editors will sign up only a slim fraction.

And of those titles--ones that that editors paid thousands of dollars to contract, print and publicize--an unhealthy percentage never sell enough copies to earn back their advances. Two years later, most will be out of print!

Acquisition Editor Tam Mossman shares seven essentials every book needs to stay in print, and sell!

Read more here: