A Little Bit of Fiction — A Little Bit of History — An excerpt & a Give-Away

Howdy!  Welcome to another terrific Tuesday.

Have you ever wondered what it might be like to watch a Rain Dance?  And to watch it from the “roof” of a 19th Century Mandan lodge?

Ever wonder if the men who tried to make it rain all those years ago were successful?

Interestingly, George Catlin — who visited the West in the 1830’s — wrote much about the Mandan Indians, about their rain dances, their ceremonies and religious practices, even the way their lodges looked.  Of course we who write historical romances often find ourselves completely captivated by the facts and outright interesting characters and happenings that we find in our research.  Often the facts of the matter are so outrageous, that an author might feel no one would believe it, and so she might write a scene around it, but “tone it down” a bit — just to make it believable.

I think the rain dance is one of those kinds of ceremonies, and yet it is a fact that many men tried to make it rain by testing their “medicine” against the elements, and that many were quite successful.  The following scene is written within the Minataree village.  The Minataree were a tribe of Indians who lived on the cliffs above the Missouri River.  They had a permanent village and very interesting customs.  These scene of course is romantic, but it also takes into account the terrific sight of a man pitting his strength against the elements in order to help his tribe by making it rain.




As they approached the Minatarree village, they were at once treated to the sight of a horse race in full swing. The track was set upon the prairie and a good deal of the village had turned out to watch.

From a distance, unobserved, unnoticed, High Wolf and Sierra sat and watched the race for several moments, before deciding to go on. At last, they approached the main Minatarree village, and Sierra was the first to note the sounds of many drums from within the village.

“There seem to be more drums beating there than what I remember. Do you know why?”

“Perhaps the Minatarree are having a dance. Or maybe, if my vision is correct from this distance, we might find that there are Rain Makers on top of the council house.”


“Rain Makers.”

“I have never heard of such a thing. What are they?”

High Wolf, who had been crawling through the shrub, stopped and turned toward her, his manner relaxed and full of good humor. He enlightened her, saying, “Have you seen that the Minatarree raise a great deal of corn and vegetables?”

“I have.”

“Have you also noticed that there has been no rain since we have been in this country, which is almost three weeks? That is a long time to go without rain, if one is raising crops.”

“Ah, I begin to understand.”

“Do you? Here is what happens. When the crops are failing, the women, who raise the corn, appeal to the medicine men of the tribe to help. And if the women’s cries are sufficient, these wise, old men will parley in the council lodge. Here they will burn sage and other medicine herbs, and then they will appeal to the Creator for help.

“Now, this lodge is closed to all but a few—perhaps fifteen young men. These are the young men who are willing to risk their reputations against the force of nature. With their own medicine, they appeal to the spirits to make it rain.

“If one of them fails, he will, then, never become a medicine man.  But if he succeeds, he will become a man of some importance.  Now, if I am correct, this could be the source of the drumming. Would you like to go and see?”

“Most definitely. But if this is a ceremony, won’t we interrupt it?”

“No one will notice our coming and going. There is too much taking place here today, and people will be watching the dancers, not us. But hurry, let us go there quickly and find a good location where we could sit and watch, for I believe you will find it interesting.”

Slowly, he turned around and started in the direction of the river, where they might wash the mud from their bodies before approaching the village. But Sierra tapped him on the shoulder and asked, “Tell me, have any of these young men ever made it rain?”

“If their medicine is good.”

“Oh, really?”

“It is so..”

“And do you believe that one of them will do so now?”

“I do.”

“All because they implore the Creator for help?”

“That,” he agreed, “and because some of them have much medicine of their own, and can talk to the spirits.  I have known such people.”

Her eyes filled with humor, and she laughed. “Well, I, for one, don’t believe it.”

He grinned at her. “Would you like to make a bet?”

“Hmmm. Perhaps,” she felt non-committal. “What would we be betting?”

His eyes twinkled as he suggested, “It is my opinion that a good, long back rub would be in order.”

“Very well.” She raised an eyebrow at him. “I seem to remember you asking for a massage once before. However, I feel I should warn you that in this case, I will be the winner.” She gave him a merry, lopsided grin. “What do you think?”

He stretched, yawning. “Ah, I’ve always loved a good back rub…”


Entering the village as unobtrusively as possible, they made their way toward Yellow Moccasin’s lodge. Once there, they were able to quickly find a seat atop his earth lodge, sitting directly at the hut’s apex. That they shared their seat with several of the youngsters made it seem to Sierra as though she were on a picnic.

“Now there”—High Wolf pointed to a particular earth lodge—“is the council lodge, and inside are the medicine men who are singing and beating the drum.  Do you smell the herbs? They are burning them, so that the Creator will be pleased and will take pity on them.”

“And the man on top of the lodge?”

“That is one of the young men, who is determined to test his prowess.  This man I am told is Gray Elk.  Look, he is about to start.”

Gray Elk was certainly an extraordinary man, Sierra decided. Tall, big-boned and well built, he wore a most beautiful costume of what must be elk skin, for it was bleached white. He also carried in one hand a war shield, and in his other, his bow and two arrows.

Then, taking position and brandishing his bow and arrows toward the skies, he began to sing, as though the very air were filled with spirits.

“What is he saying?”

High Wolf leaned close, and whispered, “At present, he is telling the crowd that on this day, their woes are at an end. He is here to sacrifice himself to the task of making it rain, for he knows well that if he fails, he will be disgraced. He says that his shield will draw a great cloud, which will give them all rain.”

Sierra glanced around her, at the cloudless heavens overhead, and queried with good humor, “Is he a dreamer?”

“Perhaps. But he is given all day to make the rain fall from the sky. We have happened upon the fourth man to try.”

“The fourth?”

Haa’he, and Gray Elk will be on top of that lodge most of the day, pleading to the heavens.”

“Do you think he will make it rain and win you the bet?”


Again, she smiled. Such strange customs. Still, she glanced right and left, noticing that behind her, arising, from the west, was a small cloud.

“High Wolf,” she pointed. “Look there.”

He did so, then slanted her a look of delight. “Ah, I will enjoy that back rub very much.”

She chuckled, her glance skimming over the heads of the villagers, who had also spotted the cloud. As Gray Elk’s pleas became more urgent, Sierra suddenly caught sight of something…someone on one of the other rooftops. An image of someone familiar…someone with dark hair, hair that was liberally sprinkled with gray, an oddity for one so young.

But it was not a Minatarree man. It was a white man. A white man she recognized…  Dear Lord, it was the prince.

Prince Alathom?  Here?

But wasn’t he dead? Hadn’t they sung songs over his grave?

Was he a ghost?

No, he looked real, for he was talking and laughing with some children, who were gathered round him.

Her head spun.  What did this mean? Or more importantly, what was she supposed to feel? Relief that a friend was still among the living?

Or remorse?

That’s when it happened. The reality of what this would mean to her, to High Wolf, to them, took hold of her.


“Someday, I will have to leave this place, and when that day arrives, there will be no room in my life, nor in my heart for you.  If you would love me, then you must do so knowing that this day will yet come.”


It had come. She would lose High Wolf.

No! This could not be. She could change her mind, couldn’t she? She shut her eyes, rubbing her forehead as her very own words came back to haunt her.


“We are not bound by rules so much as we are by duty. Duty to do the best that we can for our people and our countries. Rules can always be changed; duty cannot.”



High Wolf could return home with her. High Wolf would become her prince. Not…not Alathom.


“I was adopted by the prince’s father and mother. Perhaps I could ease the situation between your countries.”

“I’m afraid that would make little difference,” Sierra had told him. “Your relationship to Alathom’s family is not that of a blood lineage. You cannot inherit the throne or rule. It has to be the prince or no one.”



She and High Wolf had at last found happiness, had at last obtained peace with themselves. Hadn’t they only realized that they would be blessed with the rest of their lives together?

Yet her duty would be to…

Perhaps it didn’t matter.  Hadn’t she and High Wolf decided that Alathom had done what he had for them? So that the two of them could spend the rest of their lives together?


“A man can steal the wife of an enemy with little regard for his actions. But not so a brother. If your brother lives, you must give her up.”


Even Grandfather’s words came back to consume her.

No! Perhaps she could pretend she hadn’t seen him. Could she sneak away? Or was that a coward’s way out?

Surreptitiously, she glanced to the side, where High Wolf still sat beside her, unaware of the momentous occasion so unceremoniously thrust upon them. She caught him in the throes of a great deal of humor, as, leaning toward her, he so very sexually suggested, “Would you like to start that back rub now?”

But then he looked at her, really looked at her, and he must have sensed what was in her mind, in her heart, and most likely emblazed upon her countenance, for he asked, “Princess, are you all right? You look pale.  Is something wrong?”

It took Sierra a few moments to speak, and even then, she had no idea what to say. So when she at last spoke, saying, “He is alive,” it was no wonder that High Wolf frowned, gazing at her as though she had taken leave of her senses.

What was wrong with her? she wondered. Surely she could talk, although her tongue seemed oddly thick for her mouth. She found herself stumbling over her own words, as though she were a child of two. However, at last she managed to utter, “The prince…he’s alive.” And that’s when she pointed…


The Princess and the Wolf


Karen Kay



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.

26 thoughts on “A Little Bit of Fiction — A Little Bit of History — An excerpt & a Give-Away”

  1. Hello Karen!!! Just saw this before I went to bed. Tomorrow I go to texas oncology for my iv infusion for my iron. It was at a 16 low. But I wanted to read this before I went to bed. Beautiful read about the rain dance!!!! I still love the front cover of the book!!!! Nite!!!!

    • Hi Arlene!

      I must’ve gone to bed shortly before you last night. Do well in Texas with the oncologist. Thank you for your compliments, and please keep in touch — let me know that all is well. : ) Send you love…

      • Thank you Karen!! The Iv infusion I had yesterday gave me some energy. But I will find out how my iron count is with my next bloodtest.

  2. wonderful book cover. The excerpt of THE PRINCESS AND THE WOLF sounds good. Have a good week. Thank you for the opportunity to win.

    • Hi Emma!

      Thank you so much. The cover artist is Angela WAters, and I absolutely love her work. She really “gets” the romance genre, I think, and captures not only the romance, but the beauty of romance. So nice to see you here on the blog.

  3. Thank you for the excerpt. It is hard seeing or realizing that someone you thought was dead is alive. In most cases that is a thing to celebrate. In this case, it is a cherished relationship the is endangered. I have not watched a rain dance as far as I know. I remember several ceremonial dances being done on difference occasions , but not specifically a rain dance. Who is to say that it doesn’t work. We have tried many other odd things.

    • Hi Patricia!

      As always, I love your insightful posts. What an observant comment on the relationship between these characters. I’ve never seen a rain dance, either, but George Catlin did, and he wrote about it, inspiring me to do the same. Beautiful, I think. And I’m with you. Who are we to say that these men didn’t communicate with their Creator and make it rain? Works for me…

    • Hi Debra!

      This is an insightful post, too. It is said that the Indians in general were extremely observant about the heavens and about the weather. But I think also that sometimes they needed a little help to make it rain, otherwise their crops would fail — this tribe of Indians did not follow the buffalo, as did the others, so they did rely on their crops and on the trade.

  4. That would be an interesting thing to see! I can only imagine the intense emotions that went into the dances by the people who believed they worked.

    • I so believe this, too. My brother-in-law used to tell me of the “god” or “being” who inhabited the Superstitious Mountains, even to a few years ago. My brother-in-law once dared that being to make it rain — and according to him, it did rain — almost at once. So I do find this interesting. I’ve never had this sort of experience, but my brother-in-law swore that this really happened. Both my husband and my brother-in-law used to mine in the desert and also in the Superstitious Mountains — so many incredible stories they tell.

  5. I can’t imagine what it is like to see someone, alive and well, whom you thought was dead. What an emotional upheaval that must be!

    To be willing to stake your reputation just on your ability to pray shows either great faith, great ego, or both. But to risk your reputation for the good of your people also shows great love.

    • Hi Janine!

      So sorry. It appears this is a duplicate message. Thank you so much. It is my favorite cover It captures the heart of the story, I think. Thanks so much for coming here today.

    • Hi Karen,

      Yes, I think it shows all these things, too. But, like you saw, I, too, believe the men who tried this, even if they were unsuccessful, were heroes. They put their own people’s welfare before their own, willing to risk their reputations to help. So admirable.

  6. A question about the rain dance, is that where the expression “have you been doing a snow dance” comes from? Also, what are some hard to believe facts that you’ve come across? Great excerpt!

    • Hi Sally,

      I don’t know the answer to your question, but I would bet that it could be. I remember when I was growing up in the farm belt of the nation, that many farmers would “threaten” to do a rain dance occasionally. I do believe that this could have come from the Native Americans doing the same.

      Some of the hard facts that I’ve come across. So very many, and when I do run across one, I generally write about it. One of the “hard facts” was a man who married a woman, but who had had to go on the warpath. When he returned, he learned that his wife had died. However, his wife, in spirit, still remained with him, and kept house for him, even fixing his meals. This happening completely stumped the other tribal members, but it was told nonetheless.

      I wrote about this one in SENECA SURRENDER.

      Another fact that is one of the most beautiful facts that I can think of is the kindred appeal — which I wrote about in PROUD WOLF’S WOMAN. This actual event is so moving and so beautiful, that even as I wrote about it, I cried. Just recently I re-edited that book, and found myself crying as though I were a child. It is one of the most beautiful concepts I’ve ever run across and is — when it can be done — the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard of.

      There are many of these — and when I run across them — I do tend to write about them.

  7. Karen, I would love to watch a rain dance! Thank you for this fascinating post! Love the excerpt.

    • Hi Caryl!

      Thank you so much. Would very much like to witness one, too. I never have. But George Catlin did, and thank goodness for us, he did write about it. Thanks so much for your post.

  8. Hi Karen! I loved the excerpt! I wanted to keep reading! I always enjoy learning about your research into the customs of Native Americans. I’m so thankful for men like George Catlin who recognized the need that these things should be recorded and cherished.

    • Hi Kathryn!

      Me, too. I so love that he — and Prince Maximillian (excuse the spelling) — took the time to go there and to record that bit of history. George Catlin realized that it was a culture that was timely — so his books are particularly significant. : )

  9. A lovely post Karen. Just to experience the intensity and emotion of the rain dance would be wonderful. Love the excerpt. Thank you for sharing.

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