For one New Mexico State University professor, the Black Lives Matter movement stirred emotions going back hundreds of years to when his Native American ancestors were targeted by the United States government.
NMSU creative writing professor, Brandon Hobson, was inspired to write his recent novel, “The Removed,” to shed light on the generational trauma and violence against Native Americans that are still happening today - with little to no national attention.
“I was reading an article about a police officer who shot a Native teenager. Then I read another article about the same things, and another, and soon I realized there were lots of these cases that weren't making national news,” said Hobson.
“Most of these articles blamed the victims for mental issues rather than identifying whether police brutality or racism was a factor. At the same time, I was reading some of the old Cherokee traditional stories, call it folklore if you want, and trying to figure out how to thread those stories with the violence against Natives that began two hundred years ago when the U.S. government forced tribes to be removed from their land in one of the worst events in U.S. history.”
Hobson was born and raised in Oklahoma and is an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated with his Ph.D. in creative writing from Oklahoma State University. Hobson moved to Las Cruces in 2019 to teach at NMSU.
The 288-page novel published by Ecco Press in February was a recommended book by “USA Today,” “O, the Oprah Magazine” and “Entertainment Weekly,” among others.
Novelist Tommy Orange wrote Hobson’s book is “a haunted work, full of voices old and new. It is about a family’s reckoning with loss and injustice and it is about a people trying for the same. The journey of this family’s way home is full—in equal measure—of melancholy and love.”
“The Removed” follows a Cherokee family's trials after losing their child to police brutality. “This book is about the Echota family who have lost a child to a shooting by a police officer and how they're still trying to heal from that trauma fifteen years after the event,” Hobson said.
“I also wanted to have a spirit ancestor named Tsala who tells about his death and leading up to the Trail of Tears. There's also a foster child who serves as a sort of healing for the family.”
Hobson hopes professors and teachers use the book in their classes to help students start thinking about racism against Native tribes and how they relate to the events happening today. He is hopeful readers of his novel will begin to have needed conversations about trauma and violence against Native Americans in the U.S. and learn how to begin to survive and heal after these tragedies.
Hobson’s writing reflects his passion to start conversations about the past and present injustices that the Cherokee tribe has faced.
“I hope this is an important story to think about healing through generational trauma and trauma in general,” Hobson said.
Learn more about Hobson’s book and his research at https://brandonhobson.com/.