Visions of Teaoga

Written by Jim Remsen
Review by Joanne Dobson

Visions of Teaoga takes place in Tioga, northern Pennsylvania, during two very different time periods, one contemporary and one historical. It’s the historical era, however – the 1790 Summit meeting between the Iroquois tribes and Colonial leaders – that comes to life most unforgettably and vitally informs the present-day tale.

In the present-day story, Maddy Winter, a young girl in the throes of teenage angst, comes to Tioga to visit her father, an engineer for a drilling company on long-term assignment there. As a junior counsellor at a museum history day camp, Maddy becomes fascinated with the history of the area, especially with Queen Esther, an American Indian reviled by some as a bloodthirsty killer.

It’s the character of Queen Esther that brings this novel to dramatic life as she and her cohort of Iroquois, especially the unhappy young girl, Sisketung, meet with hostile settlers to determine the future of the land in the post-Revolutionary-War Eastern United States. The time periods merge nicely with spirit meetings between Maddy and Sisketung, the merging of a dual consciousness on land made sacred by Queen Esther whose wish is for “the Way of the Preserver” to prevail, peace between the two peoples of the land.

Admirably researched and beautifully written, Visions of Teaoga as a whole will appeal particularly to middle-schoolers, but the vibrantly imagined story of the 1790 meeting of Colonials and American Indians at the ancient Teaoga treaty grounds will appeal to all ages.