horseheader11.jpgGood Morning!

Hope you all had a terrific Memorial Day.  Mine was spent touring bookstores, I’m afraid.  But that’s only because I have a new book out, and I’m one of those people who think one should visit local bookstores when the book first comes out.  I’d love to hear how you spent the day, however.

crow-fair-2007-017Keeping with the theme of Memorial Day, and all those who gave their lives that we might live in freedom and prosper, I thought I’d take you on a tour through early Native America, and those who gave this country some precious gifts.  We are all pretty well aware of the gifts given in terms of food. There was corn and squash, pumpkins, potatoes, tobacco, maple syrup and hundreds of herbs.  In fact the first Europeans who arrived here would not have made it had it not been for the Native Americans helping them — bringing them food and showing them how to plant the various foods for this part of the world.


But what about some other gifts?  According to John Smith’s writings, Native America was not a wilderness, as we have been led to believe.  Forests were purposely kept trimmed, using fire and other means to keep the grass short and weeds at a minimum, creating park-like conditions — he writes of being able to ride through the Forests easily and without worry because they were kept neat.  There were villages that kept crops cultivated close to their villages.  Children and women were responsible for the crops and there were scarecrows and as well as other means to scare away animals from the fields.  Men hunted for meat, thus the necessity to keep the forests easy to traverse.

sacagaweaBut the gift I’m thinking about now, due to Memorial Day, is the gift of a particular kind of mind-set.  What was that mind-set?  I forget when I first noticed it, maybe 20 years ago.  I was talking to and getting to know several people from Germany, England and other European countries.  I noticed then that their idea of freedom was quite different from mine.  They thought nothing of another telling them what to do, what to think, what to wear, how you should run your life, etc.  More times than I care to count, they would bow to the “wiser” authority.  Whereas I objected and would argue with someone who thought they had a “right” to tell me what to do.  At the time, I didn’t know what it was — all I knew was that my ideas of freedom and the Europeans were amazingly different.

So let’s have a look at this.  I think the mind-set that I’m talking about is this: That all men are created equal in the eyes of the Creator.  That all men are independent and are entitled to think as they see fit and argue their viewpoints with others if they feel so inclined.  That one is not ruled or subject to another man’s whim, and that leaders are responsible not to themselves,but to the people.  And how about this mind-set that flourished in Native America?  That women have the right to reverse anything the men agree upon if they feel it adversely affects the tribe.

images15Dr. William B. Newell, an anthropologist, as well as an historian writes: “Indian political theories as embraced in the League of the Iroquois are important and stand out in marked contrast to the European theory of the ‘Divine Right of Kings’ which flourished in Europe at the time of the discovery of America.  The individual rights of man were recognized in America long before the Europeans awakened to this political philosophy.  Ideas of freedom, liberty, and equality existed and were engraved in the hearts of the Iroquois when Europeans were boiled or roasted alive for daring to speak against the state or church.”

adam-beach.jpgAlso, this author writes:  “One of the outstanding differences between the European and the American Indian was the fact that in America the Indian was permitted freedom of thought while in Europe an individual’s thinking was done for him by autocratic ad dogmatic leaders….”Among the Iroquois, dictators were unknown.  No man could tell another what he must do.  Every man and every woman was allowed freedom of expression.  Every person was allowed to decide for himself what he should do…’We counsel together’ was a famour phrase of the Iroquois.”

aqc6x8mca4euxxtcaq1jn5eca2lcekbca89ky7lcajfcub6cagef195cabnjmmqcaxqalipca4bzeegcaww0d67cau8xhhfcatn4k7pcapxpm2pca9igqdzcafgagquca8eeyooca7ojao1canuae9thorsesAnother writer, Felix S. Cohen, says this:  “American Democracy, freedom, and tolerance are more American than European and have deep aboriginal roots in our land.”

And another writer, even yet, writes this:  “Under the influence of modern theories of race and climate, it has been fashionalbe to trace the roots of American freedom to the Anglo-Saxon inhabitants of dark German forests, most of whom were serfs.  These historians forget that there were free men in America before the first white settlers arrived with their slaves and indentured servants.  There is more truth in a popular account of America widely circulated in Great Britain in 1776: ‘The daring passion of the American is liberty and that in its fullest extent; nor is it the original natives only to whom this passion is confined, our colonists sent thither seem to have imbibed the same principles.  Truly the passion for liberty as practiced by the Iroquois was a contagious thing.”

quanahAnd so ends a mystery that I’ve carried for several years.  The  urge to be free, to think our own thoughts, to go our own way is embedded deep in our roots, I think.  It’s in the air that we breathe.  It’s as much a part of this land as the giant cottonwoods and gentle weeping willows.  It’s a wish from our ancestors — a wish given to us by Haiwatha and the person they call the Peacemaker  so long ago that people to this day argue over when it really took place.  All I know is that they set into motion a wish that all men would be free, that all men would come to be friends, and that the land they called Turtle Island (North America) would lead the way to freedom and a land free of war…forever.

yukon-river5Okay, so now that we’ve talked about this a little, let me ask you this?  Can you feel it?  Can you feel that wish that is still alive to this very day?  I think that our Veterans felt it.  I think that those who gave their lives for their country understood how very precious freedom is and how much it is our heritage.  I think it’s still alive and well to this very day.  And perhaps this is what makes a man great — to set into motion an idea that leads others to envision a way of life that is free from tryanny, where another is free to say what he thinks, to believe what he thinks and to live his life as he sees fit, so long as he realizes that others also have this right.

Well, that’s all for today. So tell me, what do you think?  Did you know this?  Or is it coming from out of the blue?  Let me know your thoughts and also what you did on Memorial Day.

And now before I end this for the day, please allow me to say that if you don’t already have your copy, please pick up a copy of BLACK EAGLE today — it is a story of the famous Iroquois (a Mohawk warrior), the same people who Haiwatha and the Peacemaker lead to freedom all those hundreds of years ago.

Available Now!


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KAREN KAY aka GEN BAILEY is the multi-published author of American Indian Historical Romances. She has written for such prestigious publishers as AVON/HarperCollins, Berkley/Penguin/Putnam and Samhain Publishing. KAREN KAY’S great grandmother was Choctaw Indian and Kay is honored to be able to write about the American Indian Culture.
Please refer to https://petticoatsandpistols.com/sweepstakesrules for all contest rules.


  1. What a beautiful blog. I enjoyed read ing tremendously. I love the mindset part in particular. thanks

  2. Great post, Kay. I can honestly say I didn’t know about any of this. I can see the how they would use the deadwood and underbrush thereby keeping the forests clean because they have an affinity for living creatures and a tree, after all, is a living thing.

    It must be hard for all of you south of the border to understand the mentality of Canadians because we consider ourselves free and yet are tied to the British monarchy. But it isn’t like it was before. I’m not sure how much you all know of Cdn history, but an agreement signed between Canada and Britain in 1980 transferred the Consititution from British rule to Canadian parliamnet. So, even though we still feature the queen on our coins, she is little more than a figurehead with no say in the running of our country.

    We don’t celebrate Memorial Day in May. We remember all those who died fighting for our country on Nov 11, Remembrance Day. Even so, in honour of Memorial Day, I wrote a blogpost yesterday thanking those those who are called by God to serve protecting freedom and their country.

  3. Wonderful blog, Karen. Until you blogged about it, I was unaware of the League of the Iroquois. Now I need to do some more reading on the subject. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Great blog. Thanks for sharing a perspective I never gave much thought to before. I like having my mind set challenged and now refreshingly expanded.

  5. I enjoyed this blog today very much. I am one of those people who believe in doing what needs to be done with out dictatorship and the first north american’s lived in this land in a freedom many have never known. And our Vetrens are always to be thanked and repected for keeping us all free to beable to make our our own decesions. I love a bumper sticker we have here “If you love your Freedom thank a Vet”.

  6. Kay, what a wonderful post with some great food for thought. One of my favorite “walk the walk” for research was my visit with Birdy Burdick with the Oneida Indian Nation at the Shako:wi Cultural Center in Oneida, New York. I became interested in the Oneida’s because Amarillo was originally named Oneida by the railroad, and later changed. The Five Nations, as I believe the British called them (Mohawk, Oneida, Onondago, Cayuga and Seneca, hopefully, I spelled the correct), were so differen than how the Plains Indian around these parts were depicted. I’m at awe … you have more knowledge of the American Indian in your little finger than I have in my whole body, research and all. I love your post.

  7. Gen/Kay,

    This was very interesting. I know our ancestors are looking down now. The Mother Earth screams for help. I walk in peace and harmony everyday, always thinking positive.

    On Memorial Day I spent it with my wonderful husband and kids. We thought of my father in law who passed away in 2001, he was a veteran.

    What a wonderful blog today.

    Walk in peace and harmony,

    Melinda author of “Native Dreams”

  8. HI Janet!

    Thank you so much for visiting the blog today — and yes, I’ll go and have a look at what you did for Memorial Day — your posts always bring a smile to my face.

    Have a super day!

  9. Wow! Anita Mae I didn’t know all that you say. I did think that Canada was still under British rule. And I didn’t know that you had Remembrance Day — I like the sound of that very much. Thanks for bringing all of this to mind.

  10. Good morning, Kathy — at least it’s still morning out here in California. Thank you so much for your thoughts and viewpoint. LIke you I like to have my mind stimulated with different points of view from time to time.

    Have a super day!

  11. Hi Kathleen!

    I like that bumper sticker, too. Yes, this country really set into motion something that I hope will never be suppressed — and that is the idea that we are all free to live our lives as we see fit so long as we remember also that others have that right, too.

    Have a super day!

  12. Hi Phyliss!

    Thank you for your wonderful compliments. You are, indeed, very gracious. I didn’t know that Amarillo was first called Oneida. Wow! The Oneida were quite a people. While the Mohawk fought on the side of the British (not all Mohawks, by the way), the Oneida fought on the side of the Patriots in the War for Independence in 1776.

    Interestingly enough, the 5-6 Nations (there were six at that time) of the Iroquois couldn’t get a unaminous vote on which side to join and though they wanted to stay neutral and tried to do this at first, they weren’t ever going to be allowed to be neutral since their land was inbetween the warring parties. It was the first time they went against the teachings of Haiwatha and the Peacemaker and they took action without being united.

    It was a decision that destroyed their nation. United they were strong, divided, they could be destroyed.

    Sometimes I think that getting history right and learning what really happened and what cause brought about what effect is the only way to maintain one’s freedom. By seeing for oneself the mistakes that brought on defeat, only in this way can one realize that the path taken then was not one of survival.

    Thus, I think we should look long and hard at what the Iroquois did during the War for Independence. They forgot about the teachings of their founders and they each went their own way. Interesting.

    Thanks for your thoughts.

  13. Hi Stacey!

    Thanks so much for your thoughts. And thanks for your help with the blog last night when I was a bit frustrated. : )

    Have a super day!

  14. I loved this post, Karen. We do tend to believe that our country is rooted in Europe, but honestly it is rooted in people who wanted to escape from Europe. Very different.

    A really thought provoking post.

  15. Wonderful blog, Karen. Lots of information about Native Americans that many who live in today’s world don’t know. Unfortunately, very little of this important history is now taught in school. Thanks for being here to keep this free concept alive.

    Regarding Memorial Day, it serves to remind us that freedom is indeed not free. We have to work at it every day no matter where we are.

    Thanks, Karen.

  16. I would love to read this book, it sounds so interesting. If you are having a contest please enter me.


  17. Karen–Yes, I knew some of this. I do far too much research for any Western Romance I’m writing.It’s fascinating, so I just read and keep looking, forgetting to return to my WIP. The tribes of the West and the Southwest are closer in proximity and my heart, I guess. The Comanche intrigue me the most, the Lord of the Plains, and I’ve used them in two novels–one published and one unpublished.I enjoyed this very muhc–you did a wonderful job. Celia

  18. Hi Kay, as always a terrific, heart-felt post. (And a peek at Adam doesn’t hurt either 🙂 I highly value the heritage of our Native American forebears and decry the genocide they suffered. They offer such shining examples for us even today. I didn’t even know about the Iriquois constitution being the basis for ours until I taught American lit. And I’d already studied AL several times during my education. WowL!!

    Thanks for the grat post. oxoxoxoxo

  19. Hi Celia!

    Your books sound fascinating. That’s quite a reputation — Lords of the Plains. The Blackfeet had a similar title, although it depended on who was saying what. One was Tigers of the Plains and another was “Gentlemen of the Plains.

    Love it!

  20. Linda, I don’t know why you’re having trouble — I know sometimes the site gives us trouble — I had problems posting at all today.

    I’ll let our moderator know, okay?

  21. Thank you for such an interesting and informative post. Your new book looks quite interesting, and if my family hadn’t joined the ranks of the unemployed last month, it would head my TBR pile. 🙁

    I just wanted to share. Not long ago, I received an email with a video about how to thank a vet without words. The video described how placing your hand over your heart and then extending your hand palm up toward the person in uniform meant the same. I decided to try it out at the airport not long ago, thinking people would probably consider me a loon. Instead, the smiles and nods I received verified that sometimes life is like writing…you can SHOW instead of TELL. 🙂

  22. Hi Karen. What a wonderfully insightful blog. I enjoyed reading about the influence the Iroquois had on our European forebears. I’m definitely going to pick up my copy of Black Eagle.

  23. Karen, I enjoyed reading and contemplating what you had written. Our freedoms have always been an important part of my life and my father faught to insure that we would continue to have those freedoms.
    I have been watching for your book. Hope to find it soon.

  24. It is always interesting to learn more about the lives that Indians led in the past, even how they are living today. To consider them savages is a great disservice, for they had many great ways that we learned from. This is an interesting blog.

    How did I spend Memorial Day? Hubby barbecued in our backyard and I am afraid I spent a great deal of my time eating. We are still enjoying the efforts of his barbecuing today. Yummy! But with a husband who is a retired Air Force guy, we also honored the war dead with prayer and remembrance.

  25. Hi Karen and P&P! I just heard that you were the same author as Gen Bailey! I remember meeting you a few years ago on your book tour with Lois Greiman! I was so thrilled to meet you but I ended up freezing up and not saying all I wanted to! I hope that opportunity happens again some day and I won’t freeze up 🙂

    I love these tours of history from you on Native Americans. I was not aware of this and it makes me have so much more to appreciate and thank too. We visited my Father In Law yesterday and he was at the VFW post which he loves to go to and socialize with his buddies that he was in WWII with as well as so many others from the many events soldiers have helped us with. I love to chat with him too and share with him what I learn too. I’ll be sure to share this with him too. Thanks.

  26. Hi Karen, Fascinating blog! Freedom is precious, yet we so often take it for granted, or we don’t take responsibility for it. Being free doesn’t mean being lawless. It means being respectful of each other, nature, lots of things.

    Until now, I hadn’t read anything about how native Americans cared for the forests. Fascinating stuff! Thank you for the insight!

  27. Loved reading about the Native Americans once again, as I love your books Karen.
    My husband is a vet and we just spent our day together at home listening to music and reading, and then he took me out to dinner.
    we were going to go the cemetery but have been twice in two months, we lost his Mother, and then I lost my niece, and it was a little to hard for him at this time.
    Take care and God Bless
    Thank you once again for the education.

  28. Hey Kay,

    So nice seein’ ya at the OCC RWA chapter meeting!

    As usual, you have much knowlegde and are so willing to share it. Honored to call ya my gal pal!


    Mortimer Literary Agency

  29. I enjoyed this. Maybe this is why I hate anyone controlling me. I have always felt as a wife even I still am not controlled by man. We are to be a team.
    Memorial Day was spent on computer as it rained all day but didn’t storm.
    My husband slept and worked last night so was just a quiet day.
    My daughter did invite us over for lasagna.

  30. Spent Memorial weekend working in my gardens. It was the first chance i”d had this year. Spent some quality time with my husband (a veteran) before taking him to the VA hospital this morning for surgery. I just got home (I can’t do 4 AM wake ups very well anymore!). He is doing well and should come home tomorrow.
    Do I feel the tradition of freedom that is the heritage of this country? Most definitely. I grew up in the land of the Iroquois and the region is full of individualists. Unfortunately, if you look what has happened to this country over the past decade or two, we seem to be reverting to the King’s Rule. Small groups of conservatively minded people feel their way is the only way and no one else should be allowed to live their lives in a manner this group deems unacceptable. I certainly don’t think it should be a free for all, but it is getting harder all the time to express a differing opinion without being condemned as “Un-american.”
    They seem to be in a time warp. Women and minorities aren’t as smart or deserving as white males. A woman’s place is at home raising a family and not competing in the work place. Their religion and their religious beliefs are the only ones that are correct and should be the rule of law. They deny certain couples happiness and declare the sanctity of marriage and family. At the same time many of them cheat on their spouse and neglect or abuse their children. There are so many children languishing in the foster system because singles and “gay” couples are not good enough to care for them. What they refuse to see is that being a homosexual and a pedophile are not the same thing. Just because you were raised by a “gay” does not mean you will be a homosexual. A native Hawaiian told me many years ago that the native society there had a special place for the feminine homosexual males. They were the childcare givers. They held a trusted place in the society. Again a Native society that is more open to acceptance than the European mold. Sorry, this rant was brought on by today’s ruling in the California court. We have know several same sex couples who have had long, devoted relationships. We have also seen some sad situations where vindictive unforgiving families have done awful things to individuals as “punishment” for their way of life.
    It will be a wonderful day when we can all accept everyone for who they are and what they are. It doesn’t diminish us to accept someone who believes differently. If they harm no one by their life choice, who are you to say your way is right and theirs is wrong.
    Thank you for another wonderful post!!!

  31. Hi Ginger!

    Thanks so much for your info. What a great sign to use. I do think it would communicate without words. Yes, these are hard times we are living in.

    On the other hand, I’ve heard that there is money to be made by being self-employed. At least we know this: This, too, will pass.

  32. Hi Connie!

    Yes, my father fought for our freedoms, also, and my husband’s father, as well. I have cousins who fought in various wars as well and so freedom does mean alot.

    Just so you know, if you can’t find the book on the bookshelf, chances are it’s in the back and hasn’t been put out yet. If you ask, they’ll almost always find it. : )

  33. Hi Caffey!

    Wow,that tour that I did with Lois — that was what — about 5 years ago or so? That was a fun tour. What town did we meet at? Sometimes triggering that memory, I might still remember.

    Sounds like a wonderful day, darlin’.

  34. Hi Victoria!

    Yes, it is fascinating, isn’t it? I share your views with regard to respecting the rights of others. Only in this way are we all free.

    It’s a sign of greatness, I think, when one truly considers others and their rights, too.

  35. Hi Pat!

    It sounds like a lovely day, and thank you so much for your compliments. Any day spent with the hubby is a wonderful day in my opinion. : )

  36. Wow, Pat, thanks for all your insightful comments. I agree that we are losing our freedoms today, but I think it’s more because of TV and propaganda and downright criminality than anything else. People don’t get out anymore and talk and debate and participate in their government any more — “just give me the next handout” not realizing that those handouts are never free — always there are strings attached.

    Intolerance is simply that, intolerance — although the criminal of the land is trying to warp the word so that it means “tolerance of criminality.” The word simply doesn’t mean that.

    Thanks for speaking your mind, darlin’. I wish we all did it a little more often. : )

  37. Wow, most fascinating!
    “in America the Indian was permitted freedom of thought while in Europe an individual’s thinking was done for him by autocratic ad dogmatic leaders..” Very interesting to think about!

    And I also didn’t know that they kept the forests trimmed and cleaned up.

    Great information!!
    I enjoyed the post.

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