A dear friend, Jennifer Jacobson sent me a link to an article on a wonderful artist, Felice House. It’s her amazing work you see in this post. Her paintings and Evan Porter’s write up got me thinking more than usual about heroes and heroines.
We all love a strong, confident hero. The phrase alpha male comes to mind. When I started writing, I attended countless workshops on how to create a strong hero. But writing this, I paused and thought for a moment. How many workshops had I taken on how to create a self-assured, strong heroine? I’ve attended a few, though not nearly as many as ones on heroes. That thought led me to realize whether I’m reading a book or writing one, for me, the stronger the hero’s personality, the stronger the heroine must be. She can’t be a wimpy Missy Miss who crumbles under a strong wind or the hero’s stinging retort.
I want a heroine who doesn’t need a man in her life because she’s fine just the way she is, thank you very much. But should she find one, she believes he’s lucky to have her in his life. She has skills she’s proud of and helps the hero as much, often more, than he helps her. She’s not sitting back moping about the obstacles fate has thrown in her path. No, sir. Instead, she tugs on her big girl panties and develops a strategy to overcome her problems. And if the hero is one of those obstacles? He’d better watch out.
Felice House’s painting reminded me of that type of heroine. When House moved from Massachusetts to Texas, like many of us, she fell in love with “western” culture: the clothes, cowboy boots, music, the whole thing. However, when she watched classic western movies starring actors such as John Wayne, Clint Eastwood and James Dean, she found women’s portrayal as helpless damsels in distress disturbing. House described the situation as “the empowered and the powerless.” Already familiar with creating work that fought stereotypical women’s images, House set out to re-envision these cowboy heroes with women.
As you can see from House’s paintings, she and her models succeeded in portraying woman every bit as formidable, compelling and fierce as the original actors. To add emphasis, House made the paintings 1.25 times larger than life to ensure these western women towered over people. These paintings portray images of strong, capable women who can handle anything life sends their way.
House’s paintings have inspired a 2019 goal for me—create heroines half as awe-inspiring, assertive, and frankly, badass as the women in Felice House’s paintings. If I can do that, I’ll be more than happy.
Now it’s your turn. Leave a comment about what you think makes a compelling heroine to be entered to win a copy of To Catch A Texas Cowboy. I’m interested in hearing your thoughts.
To read Evan Porter’s article click here. All images of Felice House’s work are used with permission. To view more of her paintings click here.
People often ask where I get my story ideas. Once I’ve conceived the series concept, individual stories come from the characters, a lot of brainstorming, and research. My series ideas, however, often come out of the blue like my Wishing, Texas Series.
I was driving home and wondered if my oldest son was on his way to Athens, Texas, to meet his friends from the Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M University. I thought about how close he and his squadron buddies were, and I predicted they’d still be friends in ten years.
My Spidey sense tingled, telling me I had something special. What if I showed A&M squadron friends ten years after graduation? What if they still met at one friend’s east Texas ranch at least once every year? What if they were there for each other through life’s ups and downs?
When I got home, I jotted down notes. One would run the family ranch. Another would be in law enforcement. Because of A&M’s phenomenal vet med program, one would be a veterinarian. For some reason, I settled on a computer related field for my last hero.
The relationships between these men would provide the series backbone—the heart. Even now working on book three, my favorite scenes to write are when the heroes are together.
Here’s an excerpt from To Love A Texas Cowboy.
“Is there anything else you need, Ty?” The Horseshoe Grill’s waitress Tiffani, a woman he’d known since middle school, asked as she leaned forward showing off her recently enhanced cleavage.
“We’re good,” he said, staring at the pool table as he sorted out his shot.
“Let me know if you change your mind about anything,” Tiffani said before she sashayed away.
Cooper, Ty’s eight ball partner, elbowed him in the ribs and nodded toward
the departing waitress. “Are you going to take her up on the invitation?”
While easy on the eyes, with long, blonde hair a man would love to run his hands through, tall, curvy in all the right places, and good-natured enough, with her marital track record—oh for three—Ty doubted the good sense of any man who took Tiffani up on her offer.
“Anyone else notice she didn’t care if the rest of us needed anything?” AJ asked.
“Mind if I throw my hook into the water?” Zane asked his gaze locked on the waitress as she flitted around the restaurant. “She looks like she knows how to have a good time.”
“Come on. Give someone else a chance. Like maybe me.” Of all of them, AJ craved the connection and belonging that came with a serious relationship. After a six-year stint in the military and traveling around the world, he was more than ready to put down roots, but most of the women he met were leery of getting involved with an FBI agent. Poor schmuck.
“You’ve got more women on the line that you know what to do with.”
After sending the three ball into the side pocket, Zane turned to AJ. “Weren’t you thinking about going exclusive with Megan? Though why any sane man would do that is beyond me.”
Ty shook his head and smiled, feeling like the ring master of a three-ring circus. Despite that, he wouldn’t trade one of his friends for fifty-yard line tickets to an A&M /Alabama game in Kyle Field. Good friends like these could get a man through just about any rough patch.
“We broke up,” AJ said referring to Megan.
Before anyone could comment, “Chicken Fried” by the Zac Brown band rang out.
“Next round’s on you, Zane,” Ty said even before his cousin reached for his phone.
They’d instituted the cell phones on vibrate rule and the violations penalty two years ago when Zane’s girlfriend of the month drove them nuts with constant calls and texts. The man always had a woman desperate to claim, keep, or regain his attention. Hell, usually more than one. Zane was a master juggler, but that didn’t mean the rest of them wanted to be part of the act.
To read the first chapter of To Love A Texas Cowboy which includes the excerpt above, click here.
To be entered to win the horseshoe pictured, leave a comment on which hero– Ty, AJ, Cooper or Zane–you like best and why based on the short scene above. BTW, the excerpt occurred in Wishing’s favorite hot spot, The Horseshoe Grill. 🙂
The Pinkerton Detective Agency is a fascinating part of our history. Are you envisioning a clever, handsome man in a well-cut suit and matching black Stetson? (like James Garner in Maverick? Okay, so I’m showing my age!) A fascinating mix of cowboy and secret agent? Is it the idea that “they never sleep” until they’ve “gotten their man”?
The Pinkerton Detective Agency came about when Scottish immigrant Allen Pinkerton, working in a
small business in a Chicago suburb, turned in some information on illegal activity he’d been watching in his neighborhood. In a matter of years he’d become a trusted private detective and gathered the notice of the government well before the time of the CIA or FBI. Before Abraham Lincoln took office, Pinkertons were at work behind the scenes to ensure his safety, and went on to work for the Union Army. Post war, their offices expanded across the country due to high demand by business owners, politicians and law enforcement agencies.
Pinkertons were hired as detectives (public inquiry) or operatives (undercover) and sometimes on a temporary basis. At one time, those employed by the agency numbered more than those enlisted in the armed services.
While we romanticize their lives, it was both dangerous and isolating. An undercover operative might live under a false identity for years just to infiltrate an organization. And, as a ‘for-hire’ agency, Pinkertons often became enemies of the working class because of their association with big business and big government, including their reputation as union-busters.
Allen Pinkerton was an unusual self-made man driven by the idea that justice was above all part of a healthy democracy, even if justice meant living a lie… a means to an end. We have to assume he enjoyed intrigue and danger, as did most of his agents and operatives. They weren’t paid well, and living conditions were often difficult. After all, to infiltrate the Molly McGuires, Operative James McParland worked in the coal mines and took part in what amounted to brutal gang warfare, just to keep his cover over a three-year period.
Women were also agents—the original and most famous was Kate Warne—often acting as spies during the Civil War. Oooh! I smell a story!
Needless to say, the Pinkertons, or at least their legend, continues to fuel fictional stories…like mine.
A DANGEROUS DECEPTION
Jerome, Arizona Territory, 1899
When Andromeda Barr left her colorful past behind in pursuit of a normal—albeit solo—life, she didn’t exactly settle for the mundane. Performing is in her blood, and right now she has to believe she’s lying for all the right reasons—justice for the excluded, the overlooked of society—a debt she owes to the two unusual people who raised her.
Pinkerton Agent Connell O’Brien is on the trail of a wanted murderer holed up in ‘the wickedest town in the west.’ Hiding his identity is part of the job, but when he meets the surprising Miss Barrington, he begins to wonder how many secrets are too many.
Two close calls with disaster seem to suggest it’s time they both stop running from the guilt of the past and let mercy catch up, but will these two solo acts join forces before the danger of discovery becomes a matter of life or death?
If you’ve read my books, you know I love pairing a cowboy with a city girl. My characters usually wonder how they can be attracted to someone who fails to hit even one item on their this-is-what-I’m-looking-for-in-a-potential-date list, and this creates great conflict. But another reason I love throwing cowboys and city women together is it creates great dialogue and can even increase sexual tension.
Here are some sayings that have great dialogue potential. I’ve tweaked some a little the way I would if I used them in dialogue. ?
• Woman, you’re as friendly as a fire ant.
• Darlin’, I’m so country I think a seven-course meal is a possum and a six pack. (I can see my hero saying this one with a wry grin.)
• If a trip around the world cost a dollar, I couldn’t get to the Oklahoma state line.
• You look like you were sent for and couldn’t go. (Can’t you see the sparks flying if my cowboy hero said this to a heroine?!)
• You’re so skinny you have to stand twice to make a shadow. (More sparks flying, I think as my heroine wonders if this is a compliment or a diss.)
• You look like the cheese fell off your cracker.
• Honey, you make a hornet look cuddly.
• Woman, you talk any faster and you’ll catch up to yesterday.
• You look like you’ve been rode hard and put away wet. Or, it’s twin, you look like you’ve been chewed up, spit out, and stepped on. (This one has potential for a tender moment, as the hero asks her what on earth happened. When she asks why he thinks something is wrong, he uses a soft husky voice and says, “Sweetheart, you look like you’ve been chewed up, spit out, and stepped on.” Of course, what he says shatters her control. She confides in him. He understands and consoles her. Bond forms, and there you go, sexual tension.)
• Woman, you could talk the legs off a chair.
• Are you two sandwiches short of a picnic?
• Don’t dig up more snakes than you can kill. (Can’t you imagine a city girl trying to understand what the hero means by this one and him trying to explain it?)
• Don’t write a check your ass can’t cash.
• He’s all hat, no cattle.
• You can put your boots in the oven, but that don’t make ‘em biscuits.
• Same trailer, different park. (In response to being asked how you’re doing.)
• Dang, if you aren’t double-backboned (I can see my hero saying this to a heroine when he’s impressed with her strength of will or character. Of course, she won’t quite get the compliment, and when he explains it, she’ll just melt all over his boots.)
• Woman, you’d charge hell with a bucket of ice water.
Not only can a western saying add color and realism to a story, it can add humor, reveal character or even create sexual tension. But best of all, it’s fun as all get out to write.
Now mosey on over to leave a comment about one of the sayings above or your own personal favorite and be entered for a chance to win the snack set and a copy of To Catch A Texas Cowboy featuring AJ, a Texas Aggie cowboy and New York City girl Grace Henry.
A few weeks ago when I received an invitation to join the fabulous Fillies here at Petticoats & Pistols, I had to read it three times before I could fully latch onto the fact that I was going to be a Filly!
From the first time these wonderful ladies asked me to be a guest on the blog, I’ve been so impressed with them and the great community they’ve built here. And now I get to be part of it! It’s hard to picture this lil’ ol’ farm girl getting to hang out here, but I’m sure excited to be counted among the Fillies.
Circa 1970-something… me with a fawn our neighbor rescued
I’ve possessed a love of books, reading, and creating stories for as long as I can remember. I also loved growing up on a farm where my dad let me tag after him all the time. (You can find a few of our adventures together in Farm Girl– humorous takes on true things that happened during my childhood.)
In fact, he kept a blanket, one of my baby dolls, storybooks, and a supply of candy in the swather so I could ride with him whenever it was hay-cutting time.
While I trailed Dad like a shadow, I learned about rural life, country living, cowboys, and heroes.
Much of what I saw, experienced, and lived during my formative years is woven into the threads of the sweet contemporary and historical stories I write. My 50th book just released last week, so I’ve had many opportunities to incorporate a variety of details from my background, but there’s one thing I keep circling my wagon around.
The heroes in my books are often rugged guys who can be a little rough around the edges, but they generally hold a healthy respect toward women and stick to an unspoken code of chivalry we may never know or decipher.
While some may think these types of men exist only in my fertile imagination, I know they are real. Honestly, they continually inspire me.
My own beloved husband, Captain Cavedweller, is a great source of gallant deeds. Although he isn’t much of a talker, if I can get him to be serious for five minutes, he typically manages to say something that melts my heart. (But don’t tell him I shared that with you. I think that breaks rule #63 in the code.)
When I look for validation that the code is alive and well in others of the male species beyond Captain Cavedweller, I find it.
For example, I recently met a PRCA bull rider. He’d never seen me before. Didn’t know me from Adam’s off ox. In fact, he couldn’t be blamed if he was full of himself since he’s quite successful in his line of work. The opposite seemed true, though. When we were introduced, he quickly snatched off his hat, politely tipped his head, and called me “ma’am.” Respectful, kind, and genuine are words I could easily use to describe him. He couldn’t have been more mannerly if Miss Etiquette had been whispering in his ear.
In one of my contemporary romances, Learnin’ The Ropes, the bossy, crusty ranch foreman outlines what he believes to be the code all men should live by to the new greenhorn his boss hired.
The rules are as follows:
Once you give your word and a handshake, it’s as binding as signing a contract.
Never betray a trust.
Never lie, cheat or steal.
Treat all children, animals, and old folks like you want to be treated.
Call your elders sir and ma’am.
Treat women with respect and care.
Always tip your hat to a lady and take it off at the dinner table and in church.
Work hard and give your boss an honest day for your pay.
If someone needs a hand, lend yours to the task.
Respect the flag and our nation.
Be clean – both on the outside and inside of your person.
Never stop learning.
Never make fun of someone who gave it their best.
Never wear your spurs or dirty boots in the house.
Fight fair, be brave, and stand up for what’s right.
Despite what others might say, the Cowboy Code rides on. I’m so, so glad it does. I need those amazing heroes to counter the strong, independent, sassy women in the stories I write. A milksop hero just won’t do for them. Nope, not at all.
I think one of the reasons we love to read western romances is because the stories and characters are full of strength, hope, and love. My new release, set in the Wild West town of Pendleton, Oregon, during WWII, centers on the theme of hope.
In the story, (based on the famous Doolittle Raid… did you know 79 of the 80 men on the mission were based at Pendleton? I should probably provide ample warning that I love researching historical details for my stories!) our hero, Klayne, is convinced he’s going to die on a secret mission. Desperate to leave something, someone, behind, he talks a rancher’s daughter into marrying him, in name only, of course. Too bad Delaney has far different plans…
As a thank you for joining us today, I hope you’ll download a free copy of Heart of Clay, the very first romance I wrote.
Easy-going cowboy Clay Matthews is a respected college professor. He’s the man family and friends turn to for help, or when they need a good laugh. Life would be almost perfect if he could figure out the mysterious, mind-boggling woman who was his wife…
Howdy! And welcome to another fabulous Tuesday. And we have with us today best-selling author, and fellow filly, Phyliss Miranda! Welcome to the Tuesday — and birthday — blog. Happy Birthday to P & P! Happy Birthday to P & P! Happy Birthday Dear P & P, Happy Birthday to us. (And many more…)
For the birthday bash, Phyliss and I decided to talk a little bit about Western Heroes. And, as you know, there were many, many Western Heroes, real and fictional. But today, we’re only going to look at 10 of them. So let’s get started.
Sitting Bull: Sitting Bull was a Hunkpapa Lakota Indian (Sioux). He was a Medicine Man and Holy Man. He led his people during their struggle with the United States government policies. He actually didn’t fight in the Custer Fight, but he did lead many of his people into Canada after that fight. Did you know that he also toured with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, and that he considered Annie Oakley (or Little Sure Shot as he named her) an adopted daughter? A sterling example of a man who put the welfare of his people before his own.
Chief Joseph: Chief Joseph was a Nez Perce Chief who tried to lead his people out of danger after tensions arose between his own people and the white people. He tried to bring his people to safety into Canada. His retreat is considered to this day to be one of the greatest military strategies ever conceived by man. His name is In-mut-too-yah-lat-lat, and means Thunder coming up over the land from the water (from Indians.org).
Sacagawea: Sacagawea was a Lemhi Shoshone Indian. She was married to Toussaint Charbonneau, a Frenchman who had been hired by Lewis and Clark as an interpreter — but only after they learned that his wife, Sacagawea, spoke Shoshone, and they needed her help with the Shoshone tribe during expedition into Indian country. Sacagawea was pregnant when Lewis and Clark set out upon their expedition and she gave birth to a healthy boy during the expedition. Clark called her Janey. Without her help, their expedition might have failed due to the Shoshone’s antagonism toward invaders into their country. She is an American Legend.
Crazy Horse: Crazy Horse was an Oglala Lakota Indian (Sioux), who was a contemporary of Sitting Bull, and who joined Sitting Bull in leading the opposition to the reservation system. Crazy Horse was known as being an extraordinarily handsome man, not overly tall in statue, but he was depicted as being a gentle, handsome, and courteous young man. Crazy Horse was born a warrior and led his people in their struggle remain free men and women. He is chiefly credited with the success of the Battle of the Little Big Horn. He remains a hero to this very day.
Red Cloud: Red Cloud was another Oglala Lakota Indian (Sioux). Red Cloud is best known for what is called Red Cloud’s War. The Bozeman Trail was destroying Indian life and Indian hunting grounds, and when no meeting of mind’s could be found, Red Cloud led an attack that is known as one of the most successful attacks on the miliary, causing the military forts along this route to close.
And Now for Phyliss’s post.
Bat Masterson was born in Quebec, Canada and his birth name was Bartalomiew. After being raised in New York, he ended up in Wichita, Kansas, where he met Wyatt Earp and they became staunch friends. Both being rough, tough buffalo hunters they became “crack shots”. Although Masterson was alleged to have been a part of the shoot-out at the O.K. Corral, he wasn’t, as he had left two days prior to return to Dodge City.
Calamity Jane definitely was part prime and proper Pioneer Woman and a wild and wooly Woman of the West. From 1878 to mid-1800’s, she appeared in nearly twenty Deadwood Dick dime novels.
One of the most famous of all fictional characters wasRoy Rogers and Trigger, his golden Palomino. Here’s a few facts of interest: Roy Rogers was a Master Mason. He played Wild Bill Hickok, William F. Cody (Buffalo Bill) and Jesse James, three of the West’s greatest legends.
After the closure of the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Museum in Branson, Missouri, cable network RFD-TV purchased Roy’s dog Bullet who had been preserved after his death for $35,000.00; while Trigger (who was also preserved) was sold for $266,000.00. Trigger had a double Trigger, Jr.. Dale Evans wrote Happy Trails.
Of interest, Wyatt Earp’s Colt .45 revolved, he carried to the famous shootout at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, was sold at auction in 2014 for $225,000.00.
“Texas Panhandle, 1881 …
Not only was he tired, hungry, and dirty, but technically, Hayden McGraw guessed, he was still on suspension from the Texas Rangers. The last thing he needed was to become involved in the quarrel that seemed to be brewing in Buffalo Spring, Texas. It wasn’t any of his concern … yet.”
First paragraph to my story “One Woman, One Ranger” in “Give Me a Texas Ranger” anthology by Linda Broday, Jodi Thomas, the late DeWanna Pace and me. The picture was taken at the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum in Waco, Texas, where our book was put on display in the “Writing the Ranger” exhibit, along with stories and comic books by many famous fictional and real heroes.
Who is your favorite fictional or real cowboy?
And who is your favorite American Indian hero?
Karen Kay will be giving away a free Tradepaper copy of SENECA SURRENDER to one lucky blogger today, and one mass market copy of SOARING EAGLE’S EMBRACE to another lucky blogger.
To one lucky reader who leaves a comment, Phyliss is giving away both a copy of Give Me a Texas Ranger and a gift card from Bath & Body Works.
Don’t forget to enter the giant birthday bash giveaway (separate from this daily giveaway).
You can find all the details along with the entry form HERE.
Lately I’ve wondered how an Iowa city girl ended up writing romances with cowboy heroes. Or, I’ve wondered about the reasons other than the obvious—that cowboys are incredibly sexy. For my first official blog as a filly at Petticoats and Pistols, I’m sharing what fascinates me about cowboys.
For me, a cowboy isn’t as much about the occupation as the state of mind and attitude. Sure when I think of a cowboy, I see a man in form fitting Levi’s or Wranglers. I see dusty, worn cowboy boots and a cowboy hat, but it’s more than that, too. There’s something about the way he moves in a slow, yet deliberate way, that says he’ll take his time with what matters in life. If you’ve seen Scott Eastwood in The Longest Ride, you know what I mean. If not, watch it now. I’ll wait.
Now that we’re done drooling over Scott, back to the topic at hand. Cowboys have a connection to the land that goes deeper than most people’s. That taps into my love of my grandparents’ farm in Decorah, Iowa. I spent hours wandering over that land spinning stories and imaging my life living on a similar place. Writing about my heroes and heroines strolling over their land or walking along Wishing’s streets fill me with the same warm affection. That intense bond with the ZSAER%^land was a big inspiration behind my Wishing, Texas series. For those heroes, their link Ty Barnett’s ranch, The Bar 7 and each other anchor their lives.
As to a cowboy’s attitude and mind-set—people see him as a loner, and he is, but I also see his strong tie to family. Family, however he defines it, is allowed past his guard. When I wrote my first novel for Harlequin, I wanted my hero so desperate for money he’d model in New York. But I wanted something different. What does a cowboy love more than his ranch and horse? His mama. That one detail told me everything I needed to know about my hero.
A cowboy has a sense of honor that factors into every decision. In my first Wishing, Texas book, To Love A Texas Cowboy, Ty Barnett’s world is turned upside down because of a promise to a friend. One he’ll keep even if it means dealing with Cassie Reynolds. This unwavering honor paired with a good dose of Alpha male, makes writing stories with cowboy heroes fun when I turn the tables on them. In To Catch A Texas Cowboy, AJ Quinn’s sick of hearing “let’s just be friends” from women. Poor cowboy. I had a blast torturing AJ giving him what he asked, but not what he bargained for, in New Yorker Grace Henry.
For me, these characteristics make cowboys fascinating, and oh so hero-worthy. Now it’s your turn. Tell me what it about cowboys makes you swoon or say that’s a hero?
I’m giving away a copy of To Catch A Texas Cowboy and a wine glass. Post a comment to enter.
Good Morning, Afternoon or Evening (depending on when you’re joining us today)! I will be giving away the book, LONE ARROW’S PRIDE, to some lucky blogger. So come on in and leave a comment. Also, remember that if I pick your name, you must contain me personally (email) to claim your prize.
Today I thought we’d journey into the past, but the more recent past. Usually I blog about the early or mid 1800’s, but today I hope you’ll come along with me as I tell you the story of an incredible man, Robert Yellowtail, a Crow Indian hero.
The picture to the left is not of Robert, but of a handsome youth taken about this same time in history. He is definitely Crow — easily identified by the style of his hair and accessories. Robert may have looked similar in his youth. Robert Yellowtail was born on August 4, 1889, but was boarded at a government school, away from any his parents and any influence from his tribe at an early age. He was only four years old. The 1890’s were an extremely difficult time for the American Indian in general. Not only was it forbidden by “do-gooders” and government agents for the American Indian to practice their traditional way of life, but Indian land was being looked upon as desirable by powerful corporations who had influence over the government and Indian agents. Land was needed. Land was important. And here were the Indians with “lots” of land, or so it was said.
It was also a tough life at government schools. No youngster was allowed to speak his own language, or to practice any skill that might be similar to that of the old ways. The idea was to “kill” the Indian and “give birth” to a “red-white-man.” Yellowtail was both intelligent and stubborn and gave his teachers much trouble (so would I have done, I like to think). So much was this the case that Robert was sent to the Sherman Institute in Riverside, California. California was more tolerant in those days, and here he did very well and graduated in 1907. He studied law at the Extension Law School in Los Angeles, where he would go on to earn a law degree via correspondence courses. His main interest was to use the law to help his people. He also learned to play the clarinet. ?
In 1910, senator Thomas Walsh introduced a bill to open up the Crow reservation to homesteaders. Crow Chief Plenty Coups (one of the most famous chiefs of the Crow) knew he needed someone with knowledge of the law, someone with knowledge of the white man’s ways, and someone stubborn and intelligent enough to fight for the Crow. He called upon Yellowtail, and Yellowtail rose to the occasion.
It was a seven year struggle, a battle that was fought in courts and in Congress, with Walsh attacking the Crow and Yellowtail in particular ferociously. However, finally, the Crow won this battle much because Yellowtail was an experienced orator and he went on to speak for hours at the Senate — much like a filibuster. He simply refused to give up. At last he won, and the reservation lands were kept under the control of the Crow. Yellowtail was only twenty-eight years old.
In the following years, Yellowtail’s accomplishments grew even more incredible:
In 1919, Yellowtail was needed again in Washington D.C. to help write and fight for (if need be) the 1920 “Crow Act.” Here he shined. Using his experience in law for the good of his people, he went on to ensure that Crow Lands would never be able to be taken away from the Crow again.
It’s also important to note that because of Yellowtail’s work, the American Indians were at last “given” the right to vote in 1924.
In 1934, Yellowtail went on to become the Superintendent of the Crow Indian Reservation. This might not sound like the accomplishment that it was because he was the first Indian superintendent of his own tribe. Working under the duty to improve his people’s lot in life, the culture of the Crow flourished under his leadership.
Yellowtail was also a prosperous rancher. And sometime in the mid-30’s he managed to get the ranchers (whites in the area) to return 40,000 acres of land. Under his leadership buffalo were brought back to the reservation, as well as some breeds of horses and cattle.
This photo to the left, by the way, is one of my most favorite photos of the Crow. It has served me well as images of handsome Indian warriors.
The only controversy that shadowed Robert Yellowtail’s life was what happened at Bighorn River. Commissioners and unelected officials wanted to damn up the Bighorn River. Yellowtail was completely against it. In fact fighting that damn consumed him. The Bighorn Canyon (which the damn would cause to be flooded) was considered sacred. The tribal council sided with Yellowtail, but as we know, those with unscrupulous morals often take underhanded roles to accomplish what they want.
Unity of the Crow began to crumble under the onslaught of rumor campaigns. Yellowtail, himself, was said to be willing to sell out the tribe. It was all a lie, but even to this day, this haunts his image. In the end, Yellowtail was forced to negotiate or lose everything. He rose to the challenge and demanded the government pay the Crow tribe $1 million a year for 50 years. And when those 50 years were finished, the Crow would get their land back.
More rumor campaigns ensued. In the end, Yellowtail lost and the government got everything and paid an equivalent of only $600 per tribal member. Yellowtail was downtrodden, and the funny thing about it is that the damn is named after him.
But there was another battle ahead, which came much later, in the 1970’s. This time it was over mineral rights (coal) and this time, despite rumor campaigns and attempts to blacken his name, he won.
Yellowtail lived to a ripe old age of 98, but he lives on in the legacy that he left. Because of him, the reservation retained most of their land, they were able to govern themselves and they hadn’t sold away their mineral rights (and by the way, the offer was a pittance). It was a different sort of war that he fought, he was a different sort of warrior, but he will never be forgotten so long as the Crow people live.
Off to the left here, is the cover of a book that I wrote about the Crow, LONE ARROW’S PRIDE. I’ll be giving away a copy of that e-book today. And off to the right here is a picture of the cover for SENECA SURRENDER, on sale now.
Now, here’s my question for you today: In an age where criminality becomes more and more the “norm” for a society, do you think a hero, similar to Robert Yellowtail, with honest concern for his people, has a chance to exist?
All I can say is I certainly hope so. Come on in, leave a comment
And welcome to another Tuesday post, and another free give-away. Today I’ll be giving away a free Mass Market copy of RED HAWK’S WOMAN. Please do have a look at the Give Away Guidelines on the front page of our post. The rules are simple, but one rule I should stress is that unlike some other sites, in order to claim your prize, you have to come back to the site either tomorrow or in a few days to see if you are the winner. We don’t normally contact you. Okay? So please check back late tomorrow evening or the next day.
That said, my next book (which I’m in the process of writing) is about a scout in the Lakota tribe. The Lakota were the first tribe of people that I wrote about, and I’m particularly fond of these people. And so since my nose is in history and language books of these people at present, I thought I’d post about one of the most famous of all the Lakota Indians, Sitting Bull.
When I grew up, Sitting Bull was known by every child in school. And although most of us didn’t know much about him, he was often spoken of as being a great warrior.
Sitting Bull wasn’t technically a warrior. Although he had skills as a hunter and a warrior, he was a holy man of the tribe — a medicine man. He was born around 1830 or 1831 on the Grand River in South Dakota. He was a Hunkpapa Sioux (or Lakota). The Sioux (Lakota) tribe has different bands that make up the tribe. A band is typically several different families, many of whom are related.
As a child, he had a nickname of “Slow.” His father, Returns Again was an esteemed warrior and so Sitting Bull seemed destined to be the same, except that as a child he showed little skills as a warrior, thus his name, “Slow.”
Interestingly, he received the name Sitting Bull (I have read several different accounts on how he received his name — but this is an unusual one) because of a fight that he had with another young Indian boy who was from a rival tribe, I believe. In the fight, he killed the other Indian boy (so the story goes), but was, himself, injured and he was called from then on Lame Bull or Sitting Bull because of the injury he received, which made him permanently lame.
But he rose above that and became fearless in everything that he did — he was also an excellent rider, an extremely good shot and could endure much fatigue without showing it.. He shot his first buffalo calf when he was 10 and another story goes that because his father was considered rich by Indian standards, the meat from his hunting was often given to the poor. Because Sitting Bull’s tribe hunted to the far north of the country, they had little dealings with the in-coming culture. It wasn’t until 1862, when the Santee Sioux from Minnesota were pushed West, that Sitting Bull’s tribe learned about what life might hold on one of the reservations.
The 1860’s started in a bad way, and more ill-feelings between the Lakota Sioux and the United States government ensued. In 1865, Sitting Bull led a party and attacked Fort Rice in North Dakota. He so distinguished himself that within 3 years, he had become a chief of the Lakota people. It was also in 1868 that the Lakota made peace with the United States government in treaty. But that treaty was quickly broken by the United States government in the 1870’s when gold was discovered in the Black Hills. And thus began the famous Sioux Indian wars of the 1870’s, culminating in the complete destruction of the 7th Cavalry under George Armstrong Custer.
Sitting Bull did not participate in that fight, but having survived the fight, he took his people north into Canada, where they lived for a period of four years. However, his people began to starve due to harsh conditions, and they demanded to go back to their own country. Sitting Bull counseled them to remain where they were and tried to assure them that they could survive in Canada, but most were determined to return, and Sitting Bull led them back to the United States in 1881. (As a note, there were several different families from Sitting Bull’s band that remained in Canada, and their ancestors still live there today.)
He was held prisoner until 1883, and in 1885, he joined Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show after he had become friends with Annie Oakley. Although the pay was good, Sitting Bull could little understand the poverty he came to witness while on the road. He was also routinely booed by the show’s audience, and Sitting Bull is quoted as saying, “[I] would rather die an Indian than live a white man,.” He quit after only one season.
In the end, Sitting Bull came back to the place where he had been born. There, he came to support the famous Ghost Dance. His support of this dance (which determined that the ancestors of the Indians would come back to claim their land), frightened government officials. It was this, really, that spelled the end of his days. He was killed by Indian police, in a staged incident where the police insisted he had been resisting arrest. It was a tragic end, only because this man gave so much of himself for his people.
But there is something to be learned from the life of this very famous man. It has been said, and I forget by who, that those who do not know history (real history, not that which is generally taught in school) are destined to repeat it. And so to this end, I would like to cut and paste a piece written by an unknown Lakota upon the anniversary of the death of Sitting Bull.
By: ~Anonymous Lakota
Saturday, December 15th, 2002 was the 112th Memorial anniversary of the assassination of Tatanka Iyotaka, more commonly known as Sitting Bull. This inspirational leader was murdered deep within Lakota Nation territory, a vast area encompassing much of the central and northern Great Plains. Tatanka Iyotaka in his day was one of the most influential leaders on the prairie. Today, he is the most recognizable Indian in the world.
Tatanka Iyotaka was not impressed by white society and their version of civilization. He was shocked and saddened to see the number of homeless people living on the streets of American cities. He gave money to hungry white people many times when he was in the large cities.
He counseled his people to be wary of what they accept from white culture. He saw some things which might benefit his people; but cautioned Indian people to accept only those things that were useful to us, and to leave everything else alone. Tatanka Iyotaka was a man of clear vision and pure motivation.
Sitting Bull autograph dated on card’s reverse June 12th 1889.
As is often the case with extraordinary people, Tatanka Iyotaka was murdered by his own people. The colonial force set the weak of his own race against him. A tactic they continue to use. Indian police today carry on the tradition started by the assassins of Tatanka Iyotaka and Tasunke Witko. Indian police harassing, arresting, even killing other Indian people keeps the colony in control. Seeing that their paychecks, just like those of the elected tribal/band councilors, come from the colonial government points to that quite clearly.
The unrelenting love for his land and his people caused the enemies of the Lakota to fear Tatanka Iyotaka. The Hunkpapa Oyate and the Titonwan Lakota had many powerful leaders, but Tatanka Iyotaka will forever remain the icon of traditional, full-blood strength and dignity
Taken from the website: www.sittingbull.org
What is the moral of this story you might ask? What is to be learned from it? I think it would go something like this: beware the person, people or agency who would tell you bad things about those to whom you are close — and also those who are different from you. Before you believe what is told to you about another, question that person yourself. Live in his shoes for a few days before deciding you’re angry. Unfortunately, there are those who specialize in evil, and there are those who profit from brother fighting brother. Such people are the real crazy ones — those who would sell their soul for worldly profit. So that’s what I would take away from this.
Well, that’s all for today. RED HAWK’S WOMAN is on sale here: http://www.samhainpublishing.com/book/5168/red-hawks-woman — there also another cover for the Mass Market version of RED HAWK’S WOMAN.
Please come on in and share your thoughts with me about this great man.
“It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us–that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion–that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.”
–Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address, November 19, 1863
HEADQUARTERS GRAND ARMY OF THE REPUBLIC
General Orders No.11, WASHINGTON, D.C., May 5, 1868
The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet church-yard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.
We are organized, comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose among other things, “of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors, and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion.” What can aid more to assure this result than cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foes? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their deaths the tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms. We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.
If other eyes grow dull, other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain to us.
Let us, then, at the time appointed gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with the choicest flowers of spring-time; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from dishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon a nation’s gratitude, the soldier’s and sailor’s widow and orphan.
It is the purpose of the Commander-in-Chief to inaugurate this observance with the hope that it will be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades. He earnestly desires the public press to lend its friendly aid in bringing to the notice of comrades in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith.
Department commanders will use efforts to make this order effective.
By order of
JOHN A. LOGAN, Commander-in-Chief
N.P. CHIPMAN, Adjutant General
Official: WM. T. COLLINS, A.A.G.
Today we celebrate Memorial Day, though celebrate may not be the best word. We remember—that’s more appropriate. Originally called Decoration Day, it was meant to be a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service. Though it has turned into the unofficial first weekend of summer and most of us spend it picnicking and boating and barbecuing with friends and family, we shouldn’t lose sight of its meaning—its reason.
“Memorial Day commemorates the men and women who died while in military service
to the United States of America.”
Today, let’s take a minute out of our day of boating, eating and celebrating, to remember. Put down the hot dogs, the baseball bats, the sunscreen, and remember all those who sacrificed for us—both those in the past and those doing so right now—so we may enjoy a wonderful summertime tradition.