New Release and Two & a Half Weeks Before Christmas


Welcome to another Terrific Tuesday!

Is it really only two and a half weeks before Christmas?  Wow!  Time is going a little too fast for me.  Rush…rush…rush…

But, if I can take a moment in the midst of all the rush, I’d like to talk about the concept of giving and how it was a little different in Native America.

In the days of old, before the white man came to this country and influenced the American Indian into other traditions, giving gifts to others was a point of survival.  No chief could become chief who did not give to the needy and the less well to do.  Often the chief of the tribe was the poorest person in the tribe because he gave away almost all that he had.  However, contrary to a more socialist point of view, this was not pure socialism, because the giving was never regulated and never mandatory.  (Compare that to our income tax system.)  Only the strong, the wise and the kindhearted could be counted on to give, and it was considered one of the most aspired-to attributes.

Actually, it requires a bit of mind change to grasp the American Indian idea of giving.  If a man attained a higher state or did some great deed, he was not given something by the tribe, but rather, he gave gifts to others.  If a woman attained some desired state (a young girl attaining puberty for instance — or an older woman being praised for her handicraft) she and her relatives worked night and day to give gifts to others.  An example of this might be this:  Say it is your birthday, but instead of you getting gifts on your birthday, you and your relatives would work for months and months in order to have a feast, where one would give to the community in celebration of something one attained.  This was considered the highest honor one might place upon a family member.

This tradition is still carried on in Native America today.  When a family wishes to distinguish one of its own, members of the family will work for many months (sometimes years) to produce goods, not for oneself, but to give away to others — in honor of the family member.  In this manner, we have an example of giving something that cannot be measured in terms of finance.  The gift of caring, the gift of giving of oneself and one’s time.

These presents in Native America weren’t wrapped.  Sometimes the offerings were simply in the form of food or clothing or blankets.  Sometimes, in the case of a marriage or some other big event, items such as a tepee were donated to the cause (remember in the movie, Dances With Wolves and the tepee the star of the movie was given?)  When one couldn’t give because one didn’t have the wherewithal to do so, that person might give away all that he had.  In this way such articles were kept afloat in the society.  Sometimes one bestowed the very best possession that he treasured most, especially so if there were a sickness in the family and one wanted to ensure their beloved one’s  recovery.  Sometimes the donation was in the form of gifting a service to one’s people.  Certain societies had stringent rules about bundles or other sacred items and most people didn’t want the responsibility of taking care of these items (such as becoming a bundle holder.)  In this case the bequest would be in the form of the entire family taking on the responsibility, in order to preserve the spiritual traditions of the people.

This picture was taken at a give-away celebration that my friend, Patricia gave many years ago.  Another aspect to the American Indian’s way of thinking, was that it was considered a great honor if one gave in such a way that the other person didn’t feel they had to return the favor.  This happened to George Catlin in the 1830’s when a young warrior bestowed him with the diary that Catlin had lost.  The giving was done in such a way that Catlin was unable to give-back, since he was embarking upon a ship.

There is yet another example of giving by the American Indian comes to us from the Iroquois.  The Iroquois (which was composed of originally 5 tribes and eventually 6) had a system of government that was truly Of the people, For the people, and By the people.  Men served and were never permitted to draw any kind of pay for serving — it was simply considered their duty and their way of helping the tribe.  Such service is still in operation today.

I’d like to disagree with corporate America for a moment if I might.  I think the most potent gifts are those that one cannot measure by physical means.  When my kids were growing up, they used to give me coupons for Christmas — I still have them to this day — little chores they would do for me upon presentation of the coupon.  I guess the point is that one can always give something of themselves to another.

And here’s the most beautiful gift of all — something that those who crave material wealth over all else will never understand nor will they ever receive this gift (though some might pretend an affection) — the gift of love — true love.   No gold, no silver, can ever replace these gifts, since they have their roots in one’s heart and one’s nature.

And so, I would like to make this wish during this New Year’s season:  That the reasons for war — and the profit received from war — will perish from this earth.

And with this thought in mind, I leave you with a YouTube video of a song performed by Keith Whitley (who I believe is one of the best country singers to every grace the stage).

And speaking of gifts, I will be giving away a free copy of my newest release, IRON WOLF’S BRIDE — just look over to the side here for the Giveaway Guidelines.

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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.
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37 thoughts on “New Release and Two & a Half Weeks Before Christmas”

  1. I’m currently reading The Princess and the Wolf, and I LOVE the research and attention to detail you include in your work, this blog post included. Thank you for teaching me about the spirit of giving that was ever-present among the tribes. I never knew that the tribal leaders gave so much to help those around them, and it’s truly an inspiring concept!

    • Hi Lauren,
      Thank you so much. Ah, The Princess and the Wolf — I’d just learned about the incredible person the tribes called, their wolves — or their scouts. They had some abilities that I’d never heard of before — they were trained as children to track ants — even over rocks. It was well known — even amongst the cavalry — that unless a scout wished to be found, one would never see him or be able to find him. Amazing. The new series also takes in the scouts because I am so totally fascinated by them. Thanks so much for your compliment. What a terrific way to start the day.

  2. When our girls were growing up, they would have a Christmas wish list. They then removed whatever # item we chose, and the cost of that item was donated to buying gifts anonymously for a family through our church. They got to shop with us and pick things out, and they got very good at getting the most present for the money they had to spend. I think in a way they were giving something of their own to another for the best achievement of all!

  3. Karen, I’ve always been taught that it is better to give than receive. It just does something special to our heart. Those coupons you received from your kids are priceless! Merry Christmas ?. Thanks for coming today bearing a few gifts too. How sweet of you.

  4. I haven’t read any of your books but the bits of chapters I’ve seen online are intriguing. I’m an avid reader of Historical Romance. I enjoyed learning this bit of history regarding Native Americans. Thanks for educating us.

    • Hi! Thanks so much for leaving a comment. Are you also a writer? I do believe that we writers tend to be avid readers of romance and pretty much all kinds of things. Have a Merry Christmas!

  5. I can’t wait tot start reading these books, I really like historical romance books, I can learn some history and be entertained also.

    • Hi Emma,
      I know you read the hard copy of the book and we hope to be getting it out soon. There are so many more steps to putting out a paperback, but we hoping it will accomplished soon. Thanks for your kind words.

  6. I am so glad that this book came out. I really love the other books in the series!
    Oh I can’t wait to read it!
    And thank you for the stories about they giving down by the Native Americans. It’s truly inspiring.
    Your friend, Marilyn

    • Oh, Marilyn, it is wonderful to see you here at Petticoats and Pistols. How I treasure our friendship. Wish we still lived close together. May all things good be yours this season.

  7. Hi Karen, I so enjoyed reading your book The Flame and the Eagle and I am so looking forward to reading the sequel! Thank you for sharing this post and it very interesting . Have a Great rest of the week and stay safe.

    • Hi Alicia,

      It’s wonderful to see you here on the blog. Thanks so much for all your help when the book was being released. Meant a lot to me. Kindness I will always remember.

  8. It’s so true that most in today’s society value financial wants, having to have the “latest and greatest”, as I call them, in everything! They buy these things for their gifts and expect to receive the same back in return. No more waiting until the TV dies today, although that’s what I still do…seems like they NEVER die!…? Anyway, I personally place much more value on the giving of myself into someone’s gift — or at least a lot of time and thought into planning what that person would really appreciate (trying to find a story or connection behind the gift somehow) — much more memorable. I found it very interesting that when a person became gifted at a skill, the Indians shared that person’s talents as gifts to everyone on behalf of the family, that being their outpouring of love to others in the tribe. Great blog! Thanks for this opportunity! Keeping my ?? to win!

  9. Hi Venetia,

    How lovely your thoughts are on this matter and i really enjoyed your post. I, too, find this interesting. I so wish that our cultures could have come together like they do person to person. I believe there was so much there to share — and perhaps there still is.

  10. Sadly many people have forgotten that the best gift they can give is the gift of themselves. Just be there for someone when they need you. Do something unexpected and anonymously. It will make you both feel good. For many older people, they don’t need any more stuff. We stopped giving our grandparents things for Christmas not long after we got married. We would bring several bags and boxes of grocery staples for them instead. They need groceries and often can’t afford extras. We always made sure to include a few things we knew they liked but wouldn’t buy. More than that, we called them at least once a week no matter where we were, even when we were living on the other side of the country. We visited often when we lived close by and included them in special outings or just a drive in the country. Your time and love are the most precious gifts you can give anyone.
    One gift “tradition” I acquired shortly after we married was Love Knots. My husband was shipped out to the Vietnam War 5 weeks after we got married. Something the wives had started was the Jar of Love Notes. We cut strips of paper and wrote coupons on them. Some simple like “Redeem for one Kiss”, others more involved – “Good for one Dinner and a Movie.” We would roll them up and tie them each with a ribbon. You could put whatever you wanted on the papers and do as man as you wanted. Almost 49 years later, the jar and some of the Love Knots are still on our dresser.
    Realistically, no one in our culture is going to give all they have away, putting themselves into poverty. However, we can still show the same generosity of spirit and service by supporting organizations and charities that serve the needs of the community and society. Think how much better off we would all be if everyone gave just a little bit. Several years ago, our oldest daughter’s family’s gift to us was a card that said in lieu of a gift they had “adopted” a child from an Angel Tree and bought her winter clothes and toys. What a lovely idea. We don’t need anything and are so happy they decided to do something like that instead. I enjoy watching everyone open their gifts and that is gift enough.

    I hope you have a wonderful Holiday Season and great New Year. Stay safe and Healthy.

    • Hi Patricia,

      As always i’m in awe of your posts and the kindness of your heart that shines through. What lovely ideas you have put here. And the care that you gave to your grandparents is inspirational. Thanks for this post.

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