Mythology, the Thunderer and Native America

horseheader1.jpeGood Morning!

Soon, within a few weeks, my latest effort, THE LAST WARRIOR, will be hitting the stands (early March 2008).   Because this book is the last in a series that is set not only within historical times, but within the framework of Native American Mythology, I thought it might be fitting to talk about some of the legends of Native America.

lastwarrior.jpgThe Thunder Being (or sometimes referred to as the Thunder Bird or Thunder God or Thunderer) is one of the main characters in this latest series of my books.   His anger has been stirred by acts of violence against himself and his children by a clan that is part of the Blackfoot Indians — The Lost Clan as they are called in these stories.  Interestingly, the Thunder Being plays a dominant role in most Native American tribes — perhaps because when one is living so closely to nature, the Thunderer, who can produce so much damage, would be a subject of much legend.  In this series of books, the Lost Clan has been  relegated into the “mist” by the Creator, who intervened on the people’s behalf when the Thunderer was bent on destroying every single member of the clan.  Imprisoned within that mist, each band within the clan is given a chance within every new generation to choose a boy to go out into the real world, who is charged with the task of undoing the curse, thus freeing his people from what would be an everlasting punishment (they are neither real, nor dead).  But, not only must the boy be brave and intelligent (there are puzzles to solve within every book), he must also show kindness to the enemy.

july06-yukon-photo-3.jpgLet’s have a look at the Thunderer and some of the different lord about this being.  In Blackfeet lore, the Thunderer often steals women.  He also will often take the image of a very large bird — his wings creating the thunder and his eyes shooting out the lightning.  In Lakota lore, if one dreams about the Thunder god, he becomes a backwards person.   He must do everything backwards.  He washes in sand, become dirty in water, walks backwards, says exactly what he doesn’t mean, etc., etc.  The dream is so powerful that it is thought that if one fails to do these things, he courts certain death.  In THE LAST WARRIOR, because the last warrior has been adopted by the Lakota,  he believes this last to be true.  And so when our heroine dreams of the Thunderer, our hero is at once worried and seeks to protect her all the more.

RedwoodsThere is also a legend of the Thunder Being in the Iroquois Nation.  In this legend, a young woman becomes the bride of the Thunderer and through him saves her village from a huge snake that burrows under her village, thus endangering the lives of everyone in her village.  There is still another legend about the Thunder which you can watch on the Movie called Dream Makers — well, I think that’s the name of the movie (if I am wrong about that name, please do correct me).   In this legend, which is also an Eastern Indian tribe, a young woman marries the Thunderer and goes to live with him in the above world, only to be returned to her own world when she becomes pregnant with his child.

Blue_YonderWhat is very, very interesting to me is how many and how vast are the lores of Native America.  Though we often hear or even study the ancient lore of the Greeks, seldom do we read much our own lore — the mythology that belongs intimately with this land we call America — which by the way, to the Native Americans on the East Coast, it is what we know as America is Turtle Island.   Fascinatingly, there is a story for almost every creature on this continent, from the crow to the sparrow to the coyote (the trickster), the wolf and bear.  There are legends about the stars, the Big Dipper hosts legends about the Great Bear (Iroquois) and the Seven Brothers and their sister (Cheyenne and Blackfeet).  There are still other stories about the Morning Star and the Evening Star and marriages between the Gods and mortals.

july06-yukon-photo-4.jpgSo what I thought I’d ask, and what I thought I’d open up the discussion to, is not only what you think about myths (do you think they are stories about a past time or do you think, like many scientists of our day, that they are the works of imagination), but I’d love to know what is your favorite myth?  Do you like best the stories about the stars,  or the heavens, or the creation of human kind, or of love, or adventure?  So come on in, and let’s see if we can tell some of these wonderful stories from our not-too-distant past.

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THE LAST WARRIOR, March 2008

 

May Your Day be Filled With Love, Hugs & Hershey’s Kisses

horseheader1.jpeHAPPY Valentine’s Day!

I love both Charlene’s and Cheryl’s posts.  Love all those statistics. I want each and every one of our bloggers to know that we all send you much love on this very special day.  You are a part of our family, and whether you know it or not, you are each one loved!

3-paul-31.jpgMy heart belongs to my husband, Paul, whom I love with all my heart.  Happy Valentine’s Day, Paul!

5-orlando1.jpgPlease consider yourself hugged.  May your day be filled with nothing but love and hugs & kisses.

The Fight for Freedom & Native America

horseheader1.jpeHowdy!

Good morning!  Well, today, I thought — in view of the fact that we are in the middle of an election year, that we might have a look at the beginnings of our country — way back in 1770’s — and Native America.  Right now because the book I’m writing is due to my publisher very soon and because I’m writing about the Iroquois, I am steeped into Iroquois lore and history.   And I have discovered some incredible things.  Here follows some very interesting things in my consideration — interesting only because I certainly didn’t learn about any of this in school…hmmm…

  • adam-beach.jpgDid you know that long ago, long before the white man set foot on this continent, there were two men who brought peace to a people and established a government of the people, by the people and for the people?  Those men were Hiawatha and Deganawide (de-ga-na-Wee-da), or the man known to the Iroquois as the Peacemaker.  Their tribes were constantly at war amongst themselves due to the tradition and obligation to kill anyone who had killed any of their own family.  Because of these blood wars, the people were constantly in strife. 

These two men — who together brought peace to an entire nation that lasted over 300 years — have all  but been forgotten in our history (this is not the Hiawatha or Longfellow’s poem).  When our forefathers first met the Iroquois, they were impressed with not only their idea of freedom, but also with their form of government.  In the Iroquois nation of long ago, the elder women would pick their leaders because the power of the government was held in their hands.  No leader was allowed to accept remuneration for his service — it was considered his duty to serve, and that was pay enough.  And no leader who served his own means, or who showed little fortitude (cowardly behavior in the face of treason) was allowed to serve.  In fact, such leaders were taken out of office at once and their shame stayed with them throughout the rest of their lives.

red_3-crop-email.jpgDebates amongst the Iroquois sachems (as their representatives were called) were long and hard, and no person was interrupted before he was finished speaking.  Nor was any action ever taken before there had been debate, and even then, a man was never forced to do the biding of another man if he disagreed.  Several moments of silence were also left open at the end of any speech, in case the speaker thought of something he might have forgotten when he was speaking.  Oratory was considered a skill that every man should acquire.  And those who spoke well were admired greatly.  It might take a while for the people to decide on an issue, true, but once decided, and united, the Iroquois proved to be a terrible foe.  Both Thomas Paine and Benjamin Franklin, as well as Thomas Jefferson, admired the Iroquois form of government.  In fact, Benjamin Franklin wanted our own Constitution to be modeled after the Iroquois government much more than it was.

Blue_YonderBut if the Iroquois government was so rich and so full, what happened to it?  Why are the Iroquois alloted only a small reservation in America?  This is a rather complex question and is best answered in a complex way, but I’ll be as brief as I can.  The founders of the Iroquois Confederation, whose vision was to bring peace to Turtle Island (North America) might have been more than a little upet to see how their people took the peace so hardily gotten, and used it to force their will on other Native populations.  It happened once the white man came.  The white man came with trade goods that far exceeded the Iroquois’s own.  And it got to the point where the white man’s goods could not be done without.  Once this happened, it became a contest tribe to tribe to takeover the trade.  Unfortunately, this was often encouraged by the French and English in order to weaken the Indian Nations, but on the whole I think it was done without the knowledge of what was happening to the Native American Nations.  The Iroquois, because they were united, surfaced as the Nation to be respected, even though that was often done at the destruction of some of the other Native Amerian Nations.  Be that as it may, the Iroquois became so invincible that the English and the French were caught trying to buy their friendship, in a quest to bring their own rule to North America.

july06-yukon-photo-2.jpgThe Mohawk eventually created a Covenant Chain with the English, which is why the Mohawk (some of them — not all) fought with the English against the Americans during our revolution.  However, the Native American has a long standing love of freedom and independence, and several tribes within the Iroqouis Confederation fought right alongside the Americans during our fight for independence.  Yes, they lost their lands, but they lost their lands to the corporations who coverted their lands for their own ends.  And unfortunately for us, when our forefathers wrote that “all men are created equal” they truly did mean all MEN, and in particular all white men.  Luckily for us, because of our right to speak freely, we in America eventually corrected this error to include all women and all people of any color.  And so after the revolution in the 1770’s, when the corporations came to take over the Iroquois land, there was no one at that time to speak out for Native Americans.

 So this brings me to my controversial question of the day.  Are you ready?  Recently some Americans in — forgive me I can’t recall the exact state — but I think it was Delaware, lost their homes to some big corporations.  The state government literally came in and took over their land — they were given money for the land, but not what it was worth.  That land was then turned over to the corporations.  In Texas, there is the Trans Texas Corridor being built as I write this, to unite Mexico, the US and Canada.  Millions of acres of land are planned for confiscation in order to build this highway — which will be owned and operated, by the way, by Spain.  Many of the people who live on this land, have lived on it for generations.  Perhaps I am wrong in my evaluation, but this precedent seems awfully similar to what happened to the Native People in New York State so long ago…i.e. land confiscation in the name of the corporation.

 Then we come to the recent declaration by the Lakotah.  The Lakotah Declaration of Independence.  In their own quest for freedom, the Lakotah in late December/early January of this year, declared their independence from the United States.

 So here’s the big question:  There is a long tradition of freedom in this country, tracing directly back to Native America and our own ancestors.   Are you ready?  What’s your opinion?  Do we still live a country that is free today as it was fifty years ago?  What do you think?  So come on in and let’s have a talk, maybe we could even, in the tradition of the Iroquois, debate the issue.

lastwarrior.jpgAnd don’t forget, THE LAST WARRIOR comes out March 2008!

Thank you for visiting!

horseheader1.jpeGood Evening!

It was a very inspiring day today to read all of your posts.  I want to especially thank all the following people for joining in with the discussion today:  Kelly Mortimer, Taryn Raye, Jeanne Sheats, Jane Squires, Phyliss Miranda, Estella, Nance Miller, Ally, and my fellow fillies, Elizabeth Lane, Mary Connealy, Stacey Kayne and Charlene Sands.

Have a wonderful evening!

Touring, Fans & Friendship

horseheader1.jpeGood Morning!

 Perhaps it’s because I have a book coming out in March that my attention is centering more and more on touring.  This year, unfortunately for me, I will be unable to tour — mostly because I am away from home.  Because touring gives me a chance to get out away from home and to meet people who read and who enjoy reading books (and hopefully my books), I thought I’d devote this time to talking about fans and friendships.

group-11.jpguntitled-91.jpgIt seems that we writers have a unique opportunity to meet people from all over the United States, and sometimes from around the world, as well.  Because people do read our books, it seems that it is easy to become close with each other in a very short order, indeed.  The pictures above include friends Lois Greiman, Jodi Thomas and writers and readers from the Amarillo, TX area.  The second picture is at Sunshine Bookstore in the Los Angeles area and with friend, Glynnis Campbell (aka Sarah McKerrigan).  Many readers and fans have become friends, even though we may not have ever met face-to-face.  This is because we correspond on a monthly, weekly or even a daily basis in many cases.    It is, indeed, a most fortunate circumstance — fortunate because in my opinion, one is only as alive as he/she has friends.

10-greiman1.jpg4-walden1.jpg8-pic1.jpg10-regina1.jpg9-carlton1.jpg

Above are pictured from left to right, myself with Lois Greiman at Borders in New York (this group is now working with Barnes & Noble), Bookseller, Tina Wood at Waldenbooks/Broders in Orlando, FL.  — in Alabama with Books-A-Million rep, and at the Temecula Barnes & Noble in California.  In this business, friends are for keeps, and your fans and your readers and booksellers are definitely friends.  I guess that’s why many of us who write keep an open door approach to readers and fans.  We want to hear from you, we want to write to you, to get to know you and hear about your hopes and dreams — even those things that might frustrate you from time to time.  Writing is a very personal experience, and I think that often, after one reads a book, it is as though you have come to know that author pretty well, and hopefully to think of that author like a trusted friend.  Therefore, it is perhaps an opening to a warm friendship.

For myself, I think of my friends and my readers in a rather intense way.  I think readers are a very special people, who seem to have bypassed the need to watch television every night,  who instead prefer to get their news and/or entertainment from books rather than having events spoon fed to them by news agencies, many of whom only seem to  mouth the most recent propaganda.  We who read seem to subscribe to the idea that we are still entitled to think for ourselves and we’d rather read about it ourselves and make up our own mind about things, events, people.  If you read, and I’m certain that most of you do, you will probably agree with this, I think.

pats1.jpg8-birmingham1.jpg6-watkinsville1.jpgFrom left to right, myself with the two Pats.  Then a wonderful reader from Alabama and another terrific fan from Georgia.  So in closing let me say how much I appreciate each and every one of my readers, every one of my fans and everyone of you who come to this blog and dare to write to us.  You are one of the main reasons I and many other writers continue to write.

May it always be so.  TBR4 

Medicine, Medicine Men & Shamans

horseheader1.jpeGood morning!

With health concerns being in the news more and more these days, I thought it might be interesting to have a look at the average person’s state of health in the Native America of the past, as well as medicine, as defined by Native Americans, what it was — and medicine men — who were they?  What did they do?  And who were shamans?

Let’s begin with medicine.  In Native America, medicine meant the great mystery.  If one could cure the sick, that person had great medicine.  If a man could go to war and come home alive, he had great medicine.  Plants had medicine.  Animals had medicine.   And certain parts of  nature had medicine.  The word medicine did not mean a pill or even an herb or remedy.  It meant simply that a man or a woman had a special connection with the great mystery or with the Creator.  When the white man came with his boats and guns and various things that the Native Americans could not easily explain, the old time Indian called these things (not necessarily the person who used them — but the things used), medicine.

native-americans.jpgThe Native Americans of North America  enjoyed great health and a physcial beauty that would rival the most beautiful of the ancient Greeks.  So writes George Catlin in the mid-nineteenth century, as well as Prince Maximillian and Bodner, Maximillian’s friend and artist, who travelled with the Prince to America.  The Native Americans of the past had no processed food, and, depending on the tribe, they ate many things raw or dried.  Many of the North American tribes were tall and firm of limb and body and as history tells us, a very handsome people.

Food, clean water and fresh air was their medicine.  True, there were herbs that the medicine men & women might use to help their people, but a medicine man’s stock and trade was not merely in herbs alone.  Indians of North America (before their diet was changed) were known for their straight teeth (that are now possible when everyone goes for teeth whitening uv), which did not decay, even into old age in many cases.  There was a saying with the settlers — “teeth as strong as an Indian’s.”  There was little tooth decay, illness was not the norm amnong the people, and many of the diseases that plague us today were completely nonexistent.  People lived (if they weren’t killed in wars) to a grand old age.  There were many people who lived well into their hundreds, keeping hold of their facilities until death.

july06-yukon-photo-4.jpgThey lived in a land of beauty with fresh air, warm breezes, wholesome food and the love of family.  So what did a medicine man (or shaman) do if presented with illness?  Or physical problems due to injury?  Well, I can’t say exactly, since I have not this lifetime been trained in the Native American way of medicine.  I do, however, know this.  The stock and trade of the medicine man was his ability to drive out the evil spirits which inhabited the sick person’s body.  It was known by these men that illness was often caused by evil spirits that would make their way into a person’s body.  So a medicine man’s cures often had to do with driving these spirits away.  Thus, the rattles and drums of the medicine man.

How successful were these people?  According to legend, they were fairly successful.  While they didn’t keep statistics as we do today, their fame was only as good as they could cure those who were sick.  While using herbs collected and dried, they never forgot that their aim was to rid the person of the evil spirit which had taken over a part of the person’s body.

On a final note, since whole foods were the basis of their “medicine,” let me take a moment to tell you about corn, as prepared by the Native Americans.  The Iroquois built strong, tall and healthy bodies based on the three sisters, corn, beans and squash, with corn being their main staple.  The diet was augmented with meat when it was available, but corn was their main diet.

However, it was a different kind of corn than what we know of it today.  Our corn has been altered, and cross-bred and genetically modified until it is almost completely a carbohydrate.  Not so Indian corn.  The Indians knew that corn had to be soaked for days in lime water before it could be used as a food.  Of course we know today that corn has many anti-nutrients — phytates — those things that protect the seed or grain, but are irritating and stressing to the human digestive system.  Soaking the corn in lime did two things:  1) it got rid of the phytates or anti-nutrients in the grain, and 2) it changed the nutrition of the corn into a per protein with all the amino acids present.  This tradition of soaking cornmeal or corn in lime before use is still with us in the southern part of the country — masa flour is often soaked in lime.   And on this sort of diet, the Iroquois built a confederation that was so strong, that it influenced a whole generation of our forefathers, who saw in the Five Nations Confederation, an organization of government that permitted every individual in the nation freedom of mind, freedom of spirit and freedom of body.

Well, that’s it for today.  So tell me, what do you think of the medicine’s stock and trade?  What do you think of their main medicine — whole foods?  If you had lived at that time, would you have taken the time to learn about their foods and how they prepared them?

I’d love to hear from you.  And I should probably start letting you know, I have a new book coming out soon, called THE LAST WARRIOR.  March 2008 is the release date and I just happen to have a graphic of the cover.  So come on in and let’s talk.

 

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THE LAST WARRIOR

 

Breaking News for all Western & Native American fans

horseheader1.jpeGood afternoon!

For any of you who might not keep up with the Western world and Native America, I thought I would pass along some very vital info on the Lakotah Nation.  This is straight in from Indian country.  For any who don’t know, the Lakotah Nation is what many Americans call the Sioux Nation.  Lakotah heros include Sitting Bull, Spotted Tail and Crazy Horse.

Right before Christmas, the Lakotah Nation (due to continuous and extreme treaty violations, which started about 150 years ago) declared its independence from the United States.   In a statement very much like the Declaration of Independence from our own Founding Fathers, the Lakotah Nation is attempting to gain back its freedom from what has become oppression on the part of the government on their reservation.

I applaud their courage in taking such a step and I wish them success and hope that 2008 finds the Lakotah Nation doing well and free.  For more information, go to www.republicoflakotah.com where you can read their own declaration of independence.

What are your thoughts on the matter?

This time of year and … SHOPPING!!!!

horseheader1.jpeGood morning to you all!

 I was going to write to you today about Christmas — which is coming up much too soon — and what it means to me — when I realized that right now what Christmas means to me is shopping, and as fast as possible…

It always seems that I’m so behind at this time of year.  How about you?  Do you have your shopping done way ahead of time, or are you like me and put it off until almost the last moment?

Well, if you don’t mind, let’s take a moment to look at shopping.  Whether you love it or not, we all seem to have to do it from time to time, and it appears that much of our civilization depends on thee and me out there doing our share of shopping.  In the old days, there was trading.  From the Native American standpoint, shopping consisted of get togethers at the end of the summer and seeing old friends and relatives.  Here was probably the mainstay of what has become the modern Pow-wow.  Of course, there was the Trading Post as a center of shopping, but that’s long after the trade routes were already well established. 

page3c1.jpgHere is a picture of my hubby and me at Fort Union in North Dakota — an old trading post. 

 In the old West the general store was the place where most people went to stock up on the goods they needed.  Before the white man had taken stock of the Wild West, there were trading centers where even enemies went to trade with one another.  One of these places was the Mandan village, which was located on the Missouri River — in what is now North Dakota.  Tribes from all over the West would come to the Mandan village where trading would go on night and day.  There was much talk, much getting to know each other and lots of enjoyment day in and day out. 

Much of civilization seems to center around trade and trade routes and for want of a better term, shopping.  The Old Santa Fe Trail was made famous due to the trade and the commerce between one civilization and another.   But I digress…

I would love to hear your opinions on this subject.  For myself, I love to shop, but I have friends that dread it every year.  So I understand if you are not one of those people who looks forward to getting out in those crowds.  I must admit that as a youngster I hated shopping, couldn’t wait until it was done, but as I grew older and had more appreciation for clothes and shoes and items like this in general, I grew to love it.

So come on in and tell me.   Do you enjoy shopping, or absolutely dread it?  Whether we like it or not, however, it seems that shopping is as old as the human race, itself.

My Thanks to Everyone for their Insights into Love

Wow!  What incredibly wise people we have on this blog.  If only we could influence leaders of our different countries.  I think the world might be a better place.  My thanks go out to Nance Miller, Bethlynn Hanley, Taryn Raye, Devon Matthews and to fellow Western Romance Authors, Elizabeth Lane, Mary Connealy, linda Broday and Charlene Sands.

Here’s wishing you all lots of LOVE!

ROOTS AND NATIVE AMERICA

horseheader1.jpeGood Morning!

Because we have just celebrated Veteran’s Day on Monday, I thought I’d take a moment to post about something very American — fhe Native American influence on America, itself — how we are today and how we got here.

Long ago, after meeting and talking to many Europeans, I was struck by the fact that the American idea of freedom is much freer than that across the Atlantic.  I didn’t quite understand why since our roots go back to England and France and Holland (and others of course, but these three were here first).  But because my next book is set in the land of the Iroquois, I have been getting quite an education.

Did you know that Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine were greatly influenced by an ages old Confederacy of the Iroquois?  Did you know that much of our Constitution has very deep roots in the Iroquois Confederation?

If you didn’t, don’t feel bad.  I didn’t either.

red_3-crop-email.jpgIndeed long ago, before the white man ever set foot upon the North American Continent, five warring Native American Nations decided to ban war forever and to seek peace and to try to bring this peace to other nations, that war should be forever abolished.  They developed a set of laws to help them along this path and they “buried the hatchet” and by doing so established a long tradition of peace.  It was brought about by the man they call The Peacemaker, or Deganawida, and Hiawatha (the real man, not the legend of Longfellow’s poem).  They lived as hunters and farmers in villages with cleared fields that grew the three sisters, corn, beans and squash.

Did you know that when the white man came here, America was not a wilderness?  Land had been cleared for farming — and the forests were like gigantic parks — the under brush was burned off so as to produce a place for hunting that was much like our parks of today?  At least so writes Captain John Smith.

The Iroquois had a very definite sense of freedom.  Man was free.  He was not subject to a King — he did not abide by the “Devine Right of Kings,” and he was an independent being.  His elected officals were sent there by the elder women of the tribe and could be removed for not obeying the laws by the women of the tribe.  In fact, after 3 notices, a man was removed — and lived the rest of his life in shame.  No offical ever was paid for being on the council.  It was considered his duty to his people and to his tribe.

It was only after learning more and more about the Native American that I have come to realize that we owe the Natives of this country a debt.  Our sense of independence, our very thought of what it means to be free comes not from those who came to this country as serfs, but rather from those who lived on the American Continent in freedom.

So, since we have just observed Veteran’s Day, I’d love to hear your comments on freedom, veterans, and what it means to you to be a free people.  Do you have any experiences to tell me about?  If so, I’d love to hear them.  So come on in and let’s talk.