Cedar Birds is a fictional work that ordains the beliefs of the coastal Carolina Indian through their worship of the spirits, their connection with and nurturing of all that lives. These beliefs and behaviors are compared with the brutal killing of the docile right whales by the white man and his destructive, selfish domination of and exploitation of the earth in general. For example, the whale is killed for nothing more than the melting down of the huge carcass to render oil to fuel their lanterns. But darkness always returns.
Cedar Birds reveals its magic through the eyes and voice of the sensitive coastal boy Davey. He also appears as a changed man who, years later, returns to his coastal home town after the horrors and his losses in Vietnam. Killing of any kind—whether of whales or of other humans—makes him ponder the mystical wisdom and spiritualistic practices of the shaman. Davey eventually comes to understand that he is of the Coree shaman bloodline; his extraordinary senses and instincts were responsible for saving him in Vietnam. The mystical connection with the spirits also delivers him from his deadly drug addiction and gives him the power to save others. Davey visits the site of the old Indian village, Cwarioc. His senses have told him that the shaman has died. He comes to open the portal through which the shaman’s spirit is to be delivered to the ancients where he becomes one of the “faces in the wind”—into the mystic. But will the spirit be delivered? Have we killed it all, or can the spirits bring the healing? Has the last whale died? Is this the beginning or the ending? Will the ending become the beginning?