ROOT AND BRANCH is a work of fiction, yet based on fact and documented by the social history of California, Boston, and Kwangtung,China of the 1850’s.
YANA , Native American woman warrior-shaman from Mt. Shasta, must choose between maintaining a future peace or fighting present enemies who want to exterminate her tribe. TAI-YING, famous “Red Stick” martial hero of Kwangtung, finds the “Gold Mountain” of California to be a dark labyrinth of illegal trade between the Triads, the U.S. government, and even his own spiritual mentor. LIVINGSTON LOWE, from Back Bay Boston old money, is determined to earn his spurs as a canny predator in the wild arena of unbridled American commerce, at any price—even murder. And ISHI, the young son of YANA and TAI-YING, comes of age at a time when ranchers and miners hunt his head for bounty.
As warrior-shaman of her people, YANA undergoes rigorous integral training that burdens her with choosing between a spiritual response to racial extinction or immediate retaliation to save her people. Her epiphany occurs in dialogue with her Gods during a medicine lodge ceremony.
She is captured fighting government forces and ranchers, and is thrown into Sailors Prison in S.F., where she meets TAI-YING. While being transported to government stockades aboard ship, she and the remnants of her tribe escape to resist another day.
TAI-YING, famous “Red Stick” martial hero of Canton, arrives in S.F. Chinatown as problem solver for newly-arrived Chinese laborers, landing smack in middle of a turf war between Tongs, Irish toughs, and Anglo businessmen. He is immediately tossed into the clink, and is later busted out by a competing tong which has purchased his freedom. He finds “Gold Mountain” to be riddled with dark labyrinths of illegal trade between the Triads, the police, and even his own spiritual mentor.
The destinies of YANA and TAI-YING intertwine to fight for the rights of their son ISHI, and their peoples to have better options than beheading, hanging or slavery.
LIVINGSTON LOWE flees his stifling parents and the pre-ordained existence of Back Bay Boston old money. His determination to earn his own spurs in American commerce confronts the raw, unbridled reality of frontier life. Forced to face his dark side, Livingston chooses to do what’s necessary to survive and to succeed in business—even murder and sex-slaving.
ISHI comes of age when ranchers hunt his head for bounty. He is sent away to the remote White Lotus Monastery in the Trinity Mountains to save his skin and the blue jade key guarding an 800 year-old family treasure. There Ishi matures and unfolds into manhood under the tutelage of ABBOT CHAN, MARTIAL MASTER PENG, and BIG-EARED TU. Ishi’s inner journey to peace is conflicted by the violence suffered by both parents fighting for their right to exist..