September 2013 - Vol. 10 No. 9

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Karen Coody Cooper is looking back at war and peace, but not the lengthy novel that so many of us were required to read sometime between the 11th and 15th years of our educational endeavors.

Coody Cooper’s new book, a compact, yet concise composition entitled Cherokee Wampum - War & Peace Belts: 1730 to Present explores the storied history of the traditional wampum belt. Tribal leaders used wampum, which consists of hand-crafted beads made of sea shell and other precious yields from nature, to not only tell their stories of trials and tribulation, but also to forecast a future of hope and peace for generations to come.

Cherokee Wampum is an enlightening, educational read that Native American history enthusiasts will eat up; it’s rich with lore and dialogue decoded from actual accounts, some of which are hundreds of years old, including that of great leaders of several Indian nations from across the eastern seaboard. I also think anybody with an interest in the history of our area will greatly benefit from reading this short, yet stout work. Another interesting factoid I picked up on was the slow, yet steady effort by both non-Indian and Indian tribal leaders to bring the native people to terms with “modern civilization” and “progress” of the times.

This is not the first book of Coody Cooper’s and it shows; Cherokee Wampum can at times feel like a textbook or brief, but it’s filled with enough mystery, raw accounts of warfare and real human struggle to keep your curiosity at its peak. After all, you know from the minute you pick up the book you can finish it in just a handful of hours. Coody Cooper also happens to have authored several award-winning collections of poetry and short stories, and recently retired from posts at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., as well as the Cherokee Heritage Center in Tahlequah.

You can order your copy of Cherokee Wampum via e-mail from Soddenbank Press at, or pick one up at the NSU Tahlequah Campus Book Store, the Cherokee Heritage Center in Tahlequah, or the Five Civilized Tribes Museum in Muskogee. For more information visit