Our American Indian Heritage


I’ll be giving away a couple of free e-books to a couple of lucky bloggers today.  It might be you.  So come on in, join the discussion and leave a comment.  A word about winning.  Here at the Junction (as we call it) we have a few rules on our give-aways.  One is that you must be 18 to participate in the drawing, another is that you must live within the United States.  You can read about these rules here:  https://petticoatsandpistols.com/sweepstakesrules.  One thing that makes our give-aways different is that we depend on you to come back either tomorrow or in a few days to see if you have won or not.  Unlike many other sites, we don’t contact you — if you win, we give you instructions on how to claim your prize.  That said, it breaks my heart sometimes to draw names and then never hear from the people who actually do win.  So please do check back tomorrow (Wednesday) evening to see if you have won.  Okay?

Okay, so that said, let’s get on with the discussion.  Perhaps it’s the times in which we live.  Or maybe it’s something else that joggles my memory to recall  things I’ve read, things I’ve experienced.  And my mind turns over and over again to America before the advent of its exploration — to all the things that are a part of our heritage as Americans, each and every one of us, regardless of whether or not we have a drop of American Indian blood running through our veins or not.

But what exactly did the Indians give us.  If you’re at all like me, I don’t recall learning any of these things in school.  This all comes from research.  Yes, we hear of Thanksgiving and of other Indian ceremonies.  But what else did the American Indian contribute to our society — the society that we live in right this very moment?  Can you guess?

Okay, so what did Native America give to our society?  Well, probably the most obvious gift is that of names…Mississippi…Iroquois…Illinois…Kansas…Dakota…Iowa, Ohio, Missouri — how about phrases like “bury the hatchet,” we council together,” or organizations like “boy scouts,” “girl scouts.”  Their names for places, their ideas and many of their ideas on government remain with us to this day.

It was the Iroquois who gifted us with the game of LaCrosse — the Indians of the plains who taught us our most common swimming stroke — the Indians who gave us corn, beans, squash.  Even some of our ceremonies date to the American Indian (Thanksgiving was one of the seasonal celebrations of the Iroquois and Eastern Indians.)

Probably one of the most important accomplishments that the American Indian gave to our culture was the idea of the liberty of the individual and the sovereignty of the individual.  Remember that the European who came to this continent was escaping oppression and tyranny.  But here in America he met a new being.  A man who considered himself free of all government ties.

In fact, not too many people are aware that the Iroquois had probably the longest running “republic” on this planet.  Yes, the Greeks strived for it, wrote about republics,  so did the Romans.  But these attempts were relatively short lived.  How many people are aware that the Iroquois founded and enjoyed a true “Of the People, By the People, For the People” government (1140 A.D. — dated by the elders of the Iroquois — to around 1778 — when they lost their Independence just as we gained ours).

Interesting, too, that after the Iroquois Confederation was formed in 1142, it lasted in a peaceful fashion up until the European invasion.  Europe was at war — often Native Americans were recruited to fight those wars on behalf of the European powers.  But even more important than war — that changed the face of the continent — was that was trade.  Europe had gadgets and things that Native America couldn’t manufacture on their own.  Gadgets that made life easier.

Tribes went to war to secure that trade because whoever had the best trade with the European powers, could control the continent and keep their people free…and most of all, enjoy the comforts that Europe brought.

Personally, I think it was a high price to pay.  Some trinkets, pots, pans, material for clothes.  All, in the end, bought for the price of enslavement…or if not enslavement, then at least banishment from one’s home grounds.  As a result, the Iroquois who so grandly postulated the peaceful end of war forever in this part of the world (America) were scattered all over the American Continent after the Revolutionary war, their land bought up by the large corporations that were already starting to spring up on the Eastern seaboard.

To my mind it was way, way too high a price to pay.  But then, aren’t we involved in a similar situation today?  Is the price of gadgets and “things to make life easier or more enjoyable” to be paid by the surrender of one’s sovereignty?  Perhaps it’s a mute question — perhaps many have already paid this price already.  But there are still some — maybe us romantics — who remember their history, who remember a time when we were truly free, free to choose our own way, free to speak and to be heard, free to think as one sees fit.  As Nathanial says in THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS, — “I don’t call myself subject to much at all.”  Indeed, there were no subjects to be found on the American continent.  At least not at this time period in history.

Perhaps this is the greatest gift that the American Indian gave to us:  the memory of a truly free, independent, and happy people.  But more than that, perhaps the idea that America would lead the world to peace — to a world without war, a world where grief was ended forever, and a world where nations could live with one another without the need to try to “change” them into the image of oneself.

These are true gifts.  We carry that heritage in our bones, each one of us.  And it’s in the West, the cowboys and Indians, where that tradition is carried on to this day.  Ah, how I love the Indians … and cowboys.





Karen Kay

A woman on the run…a warrior’s vow…an assassin on their trail.

The Warriors of the Iroquois, Book 1

With the English and the French at each others throats, struggling for control of the North American continent, the battle lines have been drawn. But Marisa Jameson is witness to treachery closer to home.

After she overhears her uncle’s plot to destroy a Dutch town for his own gain, she threatens to expose him—and is forced to run for her life.

When the mesmerizing beauty says she needs a guide to visit a friend, Mohawk warrior Black Eagle volunteers. He knows the wild forests of New England like the back of his hand, but soon senses danger is dogging their heels and suspects there’s more to Marisa’s anxiety to move swiftly than her eagerness to “visit a friend”.

Caught in the crossfire of a war and with a deadly assassin hot on their trail, Marisa and Black Eagle discover that trusting each other is the only way to outrun the enemy—and that love may be the only way to survive.

Website | + posts

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.

28 thoughts on “Our American Indian Heritage”

  1. I love the west and good looking cowboys. I always thought it was a shame I had to grow up in New England. LOL Reading about western life is almost as good. Almost… I did spend a few years in south Louisiana and had several horses, then spent a few more years in Austin. Sure miss those days….

    • Hi Kathy!

      I hear you on this. I grew up in the Mid-West, Illiniois. But when I went West, I fell in love, a love which I have to this very day. I’ve relocated to the East in order to be close to my grandchildren, but the West is in my heart — probably always will be.

    • Hi Geralyn,

      I know. I know. It’s why I love doing research on history. It’s almost always different — the truth, that is — from what one learned in school.

  2. I enjoyed reading your blog. I also had not given much thought to what the Indians contributed. Although, I have always thought that they lost more than they gained.

  3. What an eloquent post and tribute to the Iroquois! When you mentioned “Is the price of gadgets and “things to make life easier or more enjoyable” to be paid by the surrender of one’s sovereignty?” I thought of all the things that are from China now and all the foreign cars here in the U.S. So…very true. Like you mentioned of your own learning…I learned nothing of this in school. Thanks for enlightening me!

    • Gosh, Kathryn,

      I feel humbled by your post. Like you, I look at all the things from China and sometimes weep, remembering a time when it was all made here — and made so very much better. I have an electric mixer my mother-in-law bought in 1946. It’s a better mixer still to this day than anything one can buy in the store. I value it so greatly.

  4. Thank you for so much information. There is never enough written about the Iroquois and what has been given us by the native tribes.
    Your new book cries out to be read. Congratulations on this new release!

  5. I love westerns and Historical western with native American story lines, they are by far my favorite genre.

  6. Very informative.

    I love the native American’s respect for our earth and for the Great Spirit. I love how they told stories to pass values and rules to live by on to their children. I like how they shared their knowledge of growing plants for food and health benefits to others.

  7. I truly enjoy reading your posts, even though I can’t participate in the giveaways as I’m in Canada. I have Native Indian blood from both sides of my family – Attikamek on my Mom’s side and Iroquois on my Dad’s side. On my Mom’s side, my grandmother was part-Indian and on my Dad’s side, if I’m not mistaken, it was his maternal grandmother.

    • Hi Liette!

      Lucky you to have all that heritage. And thank you so much for your post. You have quite a beautiful history and heritage behind you. I have Choctaw heritage, but it is probably not more than 1/8, but that 1/8th I honor. : )

  8. When you mentioned the price of gadgets, I thought about the price of gadgets that comes from the fact that these days many of them seem to be made in such a way that they break down almost as soon as the guarantee period is over and they can’t necessarily even be fixed. And that’s not a good thing for so many reasons.

    • I so agree, Minna. I remember a time when things were made to not break — it was a matter of personal pride. We’ve gone a bit downhill from there, I think.

  9. Historical romances are my favorite because I believe I lived there in another life. This would be my dream to go back in time to the Cowboys and indians. I myself am part Cherokee and my great grandfather was half Cherokee. Can’t wait to read this book!

  10. Hi, really enjoy reading your blogs and your books! I write western historial romance and love to daydream that I lived during that time when things were less political and you counted on yourself to survive. Look forward to reading more of your writing! Great Job!!!

  11. All around my area are names of towns, rivers etc, reminding us of who was here first, the American Indian. When I hear the hawks outside my home, or when I work with my crystals & herbs, I’ll think about the American Indians & wish I had the knowledge they had/have because they believed in what was around them. They listened to the earth, the wind, the animals, & most of all their stories from generation to generation. They are a wise people, & we could have learned a lot from them if we just stopped, opened our eyes, & listened. They deserved so much respect because they respected everything, but none was given. We can still learn from them.

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