And a happy Tuesday to you! Hope y’all are doing well and I hope you’ll find the blog today fascinating.
Don’t know if I’ve mentioned that I’ll be giving away the free e-book, WAR CLOUD’S PASSION today, thus, I’ll do it here at the start of today’s blog. Today’s blog could be a bit long, so let’s get right to it.
In my last blog last month, I tried to give an overview and an idea of how Pocahontas came to be familiar with the English colonists and how they had come to know her. If you missed that post, you can do a search under “The Abduction and Murder of Pocahontas,” and it will come up for you to read.
Okay, that said, let’s look at where I left off in my last post, which was with Pocahontas coming of age and I promised to tell you about her marriage to Kocoum, as well as her abduction by a few of the colonists, and the rather sordid details of her subsequent marriage to John Rolfe. It may take me more than this post to fill in all those holes. But let’s at least start with how she might have met her husband, Kocoum.
In the Powhatan society, a young girl and boy’s coming of age is celebrated, and it was no different for Pocahontas. However, because there was a rumor of an abduction planned for Pocahontas, her ceremony was limited to special friends and family only. There is a special dance called the courtship dance during which male warriors search the dancers for a mate. This is probably where their courtship began. After a time, they were married. Kocoum was an elite warrior. He was among 50 of the top warriors that guarded the capital of the Powhatan confederacy. He was also the younger brother of Wahunsenaca’s, a friend of Pocahontas’ father, Chief Japazaw. Because the priests (called quiakros) feared that the colonists plotted to kidnap Pocahontas, the couple went to live in Kocoum’s home, which was isolated from the colonists and farther north. She was, in fact, being hidden from the English. Kocoum and Pocahontas had a child, little Kocoum, a boy. It was Captain Samuel Argall, an English colonist, who accomplished the feat of kidnapping Pocahontas.
Please excuse me as I pause from my story momentarily to tell you of a movie I once watched where it rendered that Pocahontas and her father had a falling out and that he had banished her from the tribe, thus she had taken up with the English. Nothing could be further from the truth. Pocahontas was a princess, dearly beloved by her father. She was also married to Kocoum and had a child by him. Never would she have been banished from the tribe. That movie did nothing but further the false information about this very brave woman. That said, back to Captain Argall. Why did he wish to capture Pocahontas? Why did he take such extreme measures, for he certainly did. Once he had learned of her hiding place, he gathered together not only men, but weapons and arms to attempt her capture. But why?
Let’s speculate. Do you remember from my previous post that the English colonists were looting the Powhatan villages of their stores of food. They were also raping their women and children and oftentimes stealing their women and children in order to make them servants for the English. Sometimes I wonder at the foolishness of sending only men to the colonies. It only courted trouble. But I digress. Perhaps he simply wanted her as his woman. But I don’t think so. I think the reason is much more complex and includes money and greed. The Powhatan had many diverse and rich agricultural fields. There were no trees to cut, no land to clear. In order to take the land, all the colonists had to do was destroy the village and take the land — it seemed this was considered easier than clearing the land. This the colonists did and they expected retribution from the very powerful Powhatan tribe because of it. The tribe might have done this. But they chose not to because Wahunsenaca considered the English a branch of his tribe. Though the abuses were numerous, he still sought other ways to deal with the problem, rather than killing the colonists outright.
Through trickery and deceit, Captain Argall managed to get Pocahontas onto his ship. She was supposed to be returned. She never was. She was held for ransom. What Captain Argall demanded from Pocohontas’ father was: a) the return of English weapons that had been taken from Jamestown, b) the return of the English prisoners Washunsenaca held captive and c) a shipment of corn. Washunsenaca paid the ransom at once. In fact Argall writes of the transaction in his log in 1613, “This news much grieved this great king (Wahunsenaca), yet without delay he returned the messenger with this answer, that he desired me to use his daughter well, and bring my ship into his river (Pamunkey), and there he would give me my demands; which being performed, I should deliver him his daugher, and we should be friends.” Although Wahunsenaca quickly carried out the ransom demands, Pocahontas was never released. According to the book, THE TRUE STORY OF POCAHONTAS, by Dr. Linwood “little Bear” Custalow and Angela L. Daniel “Silver Star,” “…oral history states that before Argall took sail (back to Jamestown), several of Argall’s men returned to Pocahontas’ home and killed her husband, Kocoum.” It was tradition that he would have come for her and rescued her, something that Argall could not permit. Little Kocoum survived because upon Pocahontas’ capture, he was put into the care of several of the women of the tribe. As an aside, there are still many descendents of Kocoum who are alive and well to this day. You may again wonder why the Powhatan didn’t retaliate. Part of that is Pocahontas’s father’s fear for her life if he were to do so, the other reason he didn’t attack is because of a tribal custom — part of the cultural foundation of the tribe, which was that of appeasing evil. If one could, one always sought a balance between submitting to evil demands and preventing the loss of life. Even so, the quiakros (priests) of the tribe advised a swift retaliation, but Wahunsenaca would not do it, fearing for his daughter’s life.
One of Pocahontas’ elder sisters, Mattachanna, and her husband, Uttamattamakin, who was also a priest, were allowed to visit Pocahontas during her captivity. Oral tradition is very distinct on the fact that Pocahontas confided that she had been raped and worse, she suspected she was pregnant. Again, rape was unheard of in Powhatan society. Interestingly, shortly after this confession to her sister, Pocahontas was quickly converted to Christianity in order to rush her into marriage. At this time, it would have been inconceivable for a Christian man to marry anyone who was not Christian. It is also supposed that Sir Thomas Dale was actually the biological father of Pocahontas’s child, since, according to scholars William M.S. Rasmussen and Robert S. Tilton, it was Thomas Dale who was most closely linked to Pocahontas during her kidnapping. Note also that her son’s name was not “John,” but rather “Thomas.” It would also explain why Rolfe (who was secretary of the colony at the time) did not record the birth of Thomas.
Was the marriage one of love? Oral history casts doubt on this. She had just lost her husband, was separated from the father she loved, had given birth to a child from an incident she described as rape, and was rushed into marriage in order to make it appear that the birth had taken place after the marriage. Plus, she was not free to live her own life. She could not come and go as her leisure. Did John Rolfe love her? In a letter to Dale, Rolfe refers to her as a “creature,” not a “woman.” But regardless, whether they loved one another or not, they were married and Rolfe became the heir to the friendliness of the Powhatan people, which included their knowledge of the tobacco plant and how it was processed. Here is where the unsavory aspects of money and greed enter into the equation. The Virgina company wasn’t doing well. There was no gold in the New World, there was no silver, no gems, nothing to make the venture successful. There just had to some way to make the colony prosperous. Would the tobacco plant become their claim to fame?
It seems likely that this might have been their intentions. Rolfe had left England in 1609 with the goal of making a profit growing and processing tobacco. He arrived in 1610 and for three years, he had been unsuccessful at both growing the tobacco and in the processing of it. The year 1616 was the “deadline for the initial investments in the Virginia colony.” From the book THE TRUE STORY OF POCAHONTAS, it appears that time was running out. The colony was failing. And Rolfe’s crop was failing. Thus, Rolfe himself was failing. What was he to do?
Stay tuned. We’ve gone over her abduction now. Next month, I hope to answer the questions of what possible motive John Rolfe, Captain Argall and Thomas Dale might have had for kidnapping Pocohontas. And then marrying her. Then there’s the question of who killed her? And why? What could her death have accomplished? Most of all, however, how was the deed accomplished and covered up so thoroughly? To the point where it was believed that she had died of small pox?
So come on back next month for the conclusion of The Murder and Abduction of Pocohontas.
Am hoping that you’ll come in an tell me your thoughts about this very real American legend.
So, did you put it together yet? Okay, shall we compare times? Now, before I tell you how long it took me to put the puzzle together, be aware that I am not puzzle-oriented. Okay? It took me 11 minutes and 54 seconds — and that was after I called my husband, Paul (who loves puzzles) to come and help me. I seem, also, to be alone in my lack of tolerance and working over puzzles. Both my daughters, my grandchildren, my husband, his mother, his sister, etc. etc. — all love puzzles and put them together (really hard ones) in no time at all.
Would love to hear your time.
So here’s the multiple choice question: Is the cover?
** RED HAWK’S WOMAN
** THE LAST WARRIOR
** THE SPIRIT OF THE WOLF
Thanks so much for coming here today and for playing the game with me. Know that if you leave a comment, you are automatically entered into the drawing that will take place at the end of the week. (All Petticoats and Pistols rules for Giveaways apply.)
Thanks for playing and have a super rest of the week…lots of fun!
Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer is a museum in Nebraska…not really near me because let’s face it, Nebraska is HUGE.
But it’s near enough that I’ve gotten there a couple of times.
It’s absolutely fascinating. A laid-out circle of buildings that have been brought it, that date to the 1800s.
I may write five blogs about it because there is SO MUCH. I could spend days there and just look and read and look and read.
But today I’m writing about the recreated Earthen Lodge built there.
In the early 1800s the Pawnee lived mainly in only a few towns. Six or seven.
In each town were 40 to 200 of these earthen lodges.
Each lodge held around 20 Pawnee and each village could contain from 800 to 3500 tribal members.
These were big towns.
The smallest one is larger than my hometown.
This first picture is a diagram of the lodge. It’s laid out to respect the power the Native people gave to the earth. It was called The Circle of Life. Both symbolic and literally the source of their family, their safety, their food, their shelter. Truly a circle of life for them.
For me, museums are most fun when there are lots of words. This picture above is for the Pawnee History that is celebrated with this earthen lodge. I hope you can read it. I spend more time READING in museums than looking at the objects contained there.
This is the side view of the lodge from outside. It’s exactly as you’d think it would be. A hole dug into a hill. Remember this is Nebraska. It gets cold! The insulation from dirt is excellent, though it still seems like it’s be a little cold to me.
Here it is from the front, this is the entrance. It’s full size and we were able to go inside.
This is the inside edge of the lodge. You can see there is a layer of grassy seating off the ground. The Pawnee would sit here, around the fire, and could sleep here at night. A single lodge could house dozens of tribal members.
Here you can see the tree trunks that support the ceiling, even though it’s inside an earthen mount it is hollowed out and they need to keep the ceiling up. Note the opening in the ceiling. A fire was built in the center of the lodge and it would warm everyone, the smoke would rise up through the hole, they could cook over it and heat water to wash.
So, today, I thought I’d tackle a subject of some interest, since this woman is actually a great American heroine. I’m talking about Pocahontas. And, I’ll be giving away a free copy of THE ANGEL AND THE WARRIOR today. Just look off to the right here, please, for the rules regarding out give-aways.
Before I start, let me ask you a question: Do you believe the Disney story of Pocahontas? Or some version of it?
I did, well at least I did until I did some research into the actual story of Pocahontas. So, if you don’t mind dropping down a rabbit hole, come along with me in this fascinating subject that has been given a spin so as to cover up an actual murder of this true, American heroine.
Pocahontas’ real name, by the way, was Matoaka — which means “flower between two streams. Now, before I go on, let me do a disclaimer: this post in no way pretends to “know it all,” about this very definite heroine, but I think we might be able to set the story straight, at least a little.
To the left here is probably the most true picture (painting) that we have of Pocahontas. Now, this will probably be the subject of two or three blogs, simply because there’s just too much info to get into one blog. The information that I’m going to be telling you about comes from the book THE TRUE STORY OF POCAHONTES, by Dr. Linwood “Little Bear” Custalow and Angela L;. Daniel “Silver Star.” This story that I’m about to present to you is one that is the story that has been passed down orally for hundreds of years by the priests of the Powhatan tribe (Pocahontas’ tribe). It is the story of Pocahontas as told by her own people. It is the story passed down by the tribe’s quiakros — or the chosen few of the tribe, who have spent their lives in learning. One fact that I’m going to say here at the start of this post, mostly because it fascinated me, is that Pocahontas did not die of something. She died for something. And, she did not die of smallpox as is generally reported. She was murdered.
But, as is said in Blackfeet Country, I get ahead of myself. Let’s continue. Pocahontas was indeed a princess. She was born to the paramount chief, Chief Powhatan Wahunsenaca. She was born to Wahunsenaca’s first wife, the wife of his heart late in life. Her mother died giving birth to her — and interestingly enough, her mother’s name was Pocahontas. Wahunsenaca had truly loved his wife and when she died, he showered the love that he’d had for her upon his newborn child. Pocahontas means, by the way “Laughing and joyous one.” As mentioned in the book, the story of Pocahontas is a story of love — not the love between her and John Smith — but rather the story of a father and daughter’s love for one another and for their people. Pocahontas had many older brothers and sisters — many were already married so that caring for the young child was not a problem. She grew up being nursed by several different women of the tribe, which according to the book, might be one reason why her ties to her people were so strong.
To the left here is the more European version of the above painting of Pocahontas and her child. Notice the smiles painted on the faces and the lack of dark circles under her eyes.
Pocahontas was only 10 years old when the colonists stared to arrive in 1607. Because she was the daughter of the paramount chief, she was watched over very, very closely. No running around wild for her. Captain John Smith was 27 years old when he arrived in the New World. The Powhatan tribe was made up of 6 different tribes, with other tribes in its alliance, as well. There were other chiefs, but Powhatan Wahunsenaca was the paramount chief. They all spoke the Algonquain language. Part of the politics of the day was to bring into the tribe an alliance with other peoples and other tribes. Thus, although the Powhatan could have destroyed the colonists at any time, they did not. Instead, they sought to ally the newcomers to them. Perhaps, looking back on history, this was their true mistake.
John Smith — about 6 months after their arrival in the New World — went to explore the countryside. Warriors out hunting for food, discovered him and his party and after a skirmish ensued, Smith was taken captive. Because the English used “thunder sticks” to kill the Indians, the people were afeared of them and were beginning to think of the English as though they were a deity. This next is from the book quoted above — I found it highly interesting: “Smith would pretend to come into a village in a friendly manner. When he was in close proximity to the chief of the village, he would put his pistol to the chief’s head, demanding a ransom of food in exchange for the chief’s release. Smith and his men would proceed to take all the corn and food in the village. As they left, Smith would throw down a few blue beads, claiming to have “traded” with the Powhatan people.”
Does that sound like a man that a young girl would fall in love with? When Smith was taken to Wahunsenaca, it is uncertain whether Pocahontas met Smith at this time or not. Wahunsenaca asked John Smith why the English had come here, to which John Smith replied that they had come to this land to escape the Spanish. Now, the Indians of this country had some trouble with the Spanish, already. In fact they called the Spanish, “sons of the devil..” Remember that Spanish ships would patrol the coasts of the Atlantic coast, sometimes capturing Native people. Relations between the Spanish and the Powhatan were hostile. A little known fact: the word “Indian” does not come from Columbus’ error. Rather it comes from the Spanish word, “indio” meaning to walk with God. I like that meaning.
It is said that Wahunsenaca truly liked John Smith. It was his plan to bring John Smith into the tribe and make him part of the tribe in an effort to consolidate their friendship against the Spanish. Then if the Spanish did come in, they would be faced with the English-Powhatan people. According to Pocahontas’ people, “Although Smith alleged years later that Pocahontas saved his life during the four-day ceremony in the process of his being made a Powhatan werowance, his life was never in danger. His life did not need saving.” A werowance was a commander — male. Also, at this time, Pocahontas was a child. Children were not allowed to attend these kinds of ceremony. The priests would not have allowed Pocahontas to be at the ceremony. After the ceremony, not only was John Smith considered to be a member of the Powhatan tribe, but the entire English colony was considered to be members, too.
In fact, when Smith returned to the English fort, it was the English who tried to kill him. He was put on trial and was sentenced to death. It was Christopher Newport’s arrival in the colony that saved John Smith.
Because the English were now considered part of the tribe, Wahunsenaca sent envoys with food to the Jamestown colony. Because he now trusted John Smith, he allowed his favorite daughter, Pocahontas, to accompany the envoy. Although she was closely watched and chaperoned during these excursions, the colonists became familiar with her, and they associated Pocahontas with the food — not the powerful chief who was in fact sending it. Thus, the rumor that Pocahontas brought food to the colonists against her father’s will, is dispelled as untrue.
What Pocahontas was at this time was a symbol of peace. She was not a spy as some historians have liked to believe. It was during the summer of 1609 that relations between the Powhatan tribe and the English began to deteriorate. Smith entered into villages rudely and with full arms, demanding and taking food. In some instances, he left the Powhatans with no food for the winter. As a matter of fact, this is the speech preserved that Wahunsenaca said to Smith.
“Why do you take by force (that which) you may quickly have by love? Or to destroy them that provide you food? What can you get by war when we can hide our provision and fly to the woods?” Yet John Smith continued to force arms upon the villages in order to take all their food stores, again leaving behind a few beads as though he had traded for the supplies. Maybe he was simply a bully and it’s all he knew. Smith continued to allege that Wahunsenaca wanted to kill him. However, if this were true, it would have been done without apology or explanation. Yet, it wasn’t. Why? Because Smith was considered to be part of the tribe.
Danger came to the Powhatan tribes in the form of rape. In Powhatan society, the children went naked in the summer and women were bare-breasted. It was part of their dress, and did not excite the men in particular because it was such a common sight. Rape was not permitted in Powhatan society. Often the women of the tribe would offer themselves to the English to prevent them from raping their children. Because the English had guns, this was all they could do. Whenever the English would come to the village, the elders would often take the children and hide them in the woods. As more and more English colonists arrived, the atrocities began to grow. Children were often taken to be slaves to the English. The women were simply raped. The Powhatan became shocked at the behavior of the English and set up guards to determine when they were coming to their villages. For their own part, the English kept expecting some sort of retribution by the Powhatan. Neither Wahunsenaca nor Pocahontas had seen John Smith since 1609 and they were told that he was dead. Wahunsenaca discontinued allowing Pocahontas to go to Jamestown. It was no longer safe.
Well, that’s all we have time and space for today. I hope you’ll bear with me and come seek out my post next month as I’ll be discussing Pocahontas’s coming of age. Her marriage to Kocoum, her abduction and her subsequent marriage to John Rolfe. And last but not least, her murder. Why she was murdered and who did the deed, or at least who was responsible for it. Facts, all. Facts that have been hidden all these years which have only recently been brought to light by the people of Pocahontas’s own tribe. I hope you have enjoyed this excursion into history and a look at this very brave heroine. The enormity of her bravery and what she gave up and its cost to her, we’ll go over in my next post (Lord willing).
So, what do you think? Did you already know this, or does this shed a different light on history. It is said, that what is written of history is written by the victors. This has, indeed, been true in the case of Pocahontas. Thank heaven for oral tradition and keeping the truth alive against all odds. So come on in and tell me what you think. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.
Well, today I thought we might look at the poet, philosopher and performer who was — in his younger days — a political activist for his tribe. That man is John Trudell.
John Trudell’s life was so full and he accomplished so many things that I don’t believe I could really do his story justice with one simple blog. But I’ll try.
John Trudell was an Indian Activist who was the spokesperson for the Occupation of Alcatraz in the early 1970’s. One of the quotes from his first wife that I found so stunning was when he told his wife that they were going to the Alcatraz Occupation, she told him she was afraid she’d get cold feet. His response was, “Wear socks.”
He was also a part of the American Indian Movement, also in the 1970’s.
He tells the story of his father and how he and his father and mother came to be married. His father was Lakota and his mother was Mexican. John said in an interview that his father literally stole his mother and rode away with her on horseback. But they loved one another and the marriage worked.
John was briefly in the Navy, but it didn’t appear that this held great interest for him and he soon returned to the reservation. He met his second wife, Tina, in 1971 and in 1972 they became a couple. It was a troubling time to be on an Indian Reservation. There had been some shoot-outs and tensions were high on the Pine Ridge Reservation in So. Dakota. In February of 1979, John was engaged in protests in Washington DC. On the 11th of February, he burned an American Flag on the steps of the FBI building in protest of the injustices to the American Indian people. Within 12 hours after that event, his wife, Tina, and their three children and Tina’s mother were killed in a sudden fire in their home on her reservation in Death Valley. Tina was also pregnant at the time.
John said in interviews that he had to die, too, in order to get through each day after his family’s death. But he also said that Tina’s parting gift to him was the gift of her poetry. She was the poet in the family. He said in interview that it was she who encouraged him to write down his thoughts, and to write them down using poetry. It was her parting gift to him.
And so he did begin to write. His poems were often heart-felt and sometimes they were fiery and full of passion for life and for his people. He became involved in reading his poetry in public places, and on one occasion, he met Jessie Ed Davis, a Kiowa guitarist, who said that he could put John’s poems to music. And thus began the poetry from John Trudell’s heart and the many concerts that you can still see online.
John has influenced many Native American artists. I’ve only recently discovered John’s work, but I have found it profound. So I’m going to show you some quotes of his that I find inspirational.
You can still find his concerts and his talks and interviews on the internet. John became, or perhaps he always was, philosophical, and his wisdom was often sought after by many people of all different races. This last quote, off to the left here is probably my favorite of his quotes, if only because I find this very profound in today’s world, which has become more than a little strange.
I’ve said this to my closest friends, and I’ll tell you this today in this blog. Whatever else we as a people are involved in, I believe we are in a spiritual war against some dark forces. I admit that I’ve heard this saying over and over and over, but I never really understood it until recently. But I believe that this is what John was saying when he said “protect your spirit”: In this life, one has many choices, but if one chooses the path of violence, theft, and the stripping of another’s God-given rights and happiness, all in the attainment of some materialistic goal, one is looking at one’s eternity as though one were painting oneself into a corner — and, it seems to me that in doing those things which bring harm to another, one is not “protecting one’s spirit.” I guess he was saying that one has the choice spiritually…and maybe that’s what he means by “Protect your spirit….”
John Trudell died in 2015. He left behind him a legacy of beauty, of music and poetry. He also left behind him a philosophy that I believe enriches one’s soul.
Well, that’s all for today. I hope you enjoyed the blog. Often, I think of the American Indian Hero as having lived in the long ago past. But John Trudell was a modern hero. At least that is my opinion of him.
What do you think? I’d love to hear from you.
Am offering a free download of the book, LAKOTA SURRENDER today in honor of John Trudell, a wonderful poet, philosopher and a Lakota Indian. This is a download from BookFunnel and will be up only for the next fews days. Grab it while you can: https://dl.bookfunnel.com/uq6ti9a1kw
Hope y’all are doing well in this weird world. Who would’ve ever thought the entire world would shut down? All I can say is that I hope y’all are surviving well in this time period and that when it’s over, you’ll go on to do even better than before.
Almost from the start of this, I started putting a few of my books on sale. Many have gone from $5,99 to .99 cents. ALL of my paperback books have gone from (we started this about 2 months ago) $14.99 to $9.99. My newest book, THE EAGLE AND THE FLAME, will be put on sale soon — we just uploaded it to Amazon and it’s going to their editing at the moment. But, when it comes on, it will NOT be put on sale at $14,99, but rather at $9.99.
In truth, the reason I started doing this right from the beginning is that often when one is frightened or bored or uncertain, a romance book can raise them up a little and often put a smile on their face. So, here we go. This is a list of the books that are on sale for .99 cents right now or read for free on KindleUnlimited:
So the books on sale for .99 cents are: Gray Hawk’s Lady; White Eagle’s Touch; Night Thunder’s Bride; War Cloud’s Passion; Lone Arrow’s Pride; Soaring Eagle’s Embrace; Wolf Shadow’s Promise; The Angel and the Warrior; The Spirit of the Wolf; Red Hawk’s Woman and The Last Warrior; Black Eagle; Seneca Surrender
All of these books (except for Lakota Surrender) are priced at .99 cents or can be read for free on Kindle Unlimited. The book, LAKOTA SURRENDER is on sale for $3.99. This is a special edition, newly edited book that is the 25th Anniversary Edition of that book.
As I said all of my books that are in paperback are also on sale for $9.99. They used to sell at $14.99, but we’re trying to reduce those prices as much as we can so that if you read only paperback books, you’ll also have a sale. These paperback books on sale for $9.99 are: Lakota Surrender; The Angel and the Warrior; The Spirit of the Wolf; Red Hawk’s Woman; The Last Warrior; Seneca Surrender; The Princess and the Wolf; and Brave Wolf and the Lady. Lakota Surrender is also on sale in e-book for $3.99.
So if there are any of these books that you haven’t read, now might be the time to pick one up.
But my blogs wouldn’t really be a blog if I didn’t give away at least one book for free. And so, today, I’m giving away an e-book of my latest release, THE EAGLE AND THE FLAME, to one of today’s bloggers.
On another note, I’m wondering how y’all are doing during this time period. Are you reading a lot? Doing gardening? Cleaning the house? Doing all those little things in the yard or around the house that we seldom have time to do?
Would love to hear how you’re doing during this time period and any suggestions you might pass along to the rest of us as to how to keep in touch with others in this time of enforced social distancing. We, as people, i think thrive on our associations with others, our conversations, talking back and forth, sharing jokes and sharing even our heartbreaks. If you’d like to share things you’re doing, how you’re doing, I’d love to hear it.
May we all come out of this time period a little wiser, a little more aware and a little bit better off for the experience. Remember that this, too, will pass.
About 3-4 weeks ago, I learned that a good friend of mine, Steve Reevis had passed away. He passed on in December of 2017. Unfortunately, for me, I was unaware of this because when I moved away from LA, his family and mine lost contract. Steve was a Native American Actor, and he appeared in many films. Probably my favorite film of his was “The Last of the Dogmen,” where Steve played the major Native American role. I will leave a list of many of his films at the end of this blog.
Steve was only 55 years old when he passed, much too young to leave this world. In 1999, Steve helped me and my husband and a few other friends to set up a literacy project on the Blackfeet reservation. This was the first time I had met Steve. He was a very handsome young man, he was quiet, yet when he did speak, we listened, for he was also a wise young man. Steve never asked for anything in return for the help he gave us, his main concern being to help his people.
In truth, I was shocked when I learned of his passing, and so I thought that today, I would hostess a give-away in the style of the Blackfeet in Montana. (I am adopted Blackfeet.)
I’ll be giving away many books today, so do leave a message so that you can enter into the give-away. I’ll also be giving away a pair of Blackfeet made earrings. Now, let me show you some pictures of a fundraiser that we did with Steve and his beautiful wife, Macile, in a Walmart in 1999. All of my Blackfoot Warrior series (three books total) will also be on sale for a week for 99 cents in honor of Steve. (See below for the links to those books.)
The picture to the left here is of Steve when he was speaking at the fundraiser. This event also included many romance authors from the Orange County Romance Writers Association. At the event, we had a local drum group, who also donated all of their time and their musical art for the literacy project.
Off to the right here is a picture of Steve in a conversation with Maria Ferrara, who helped to fund raise for the project and was instrumental in getting the project off the ground. Without her help, there would have been no project.
As you can see here, Steve is listening intently to Maria, and this is one of my favorite pictures from that time.
To the left here are several people connected to the project. From left to right are: Mark Reed; Maria Ferrara; Jeff Butler; Harold Dusty Bull; Kinder Hunt; Steve Reevis; Macile Reevis; George Randall; Toni Running Fisher; Saginaw Grant; Yours truly.
And again, to the left is Harold Dusty Bull, who was In Charge of the Project. In the background to the left is Steve and on the right is Mark Reed, from the Iroquois/Mohawk tribe, I believe.
Both Harold and Steve grew up on the Blackfeet Reservation in Browning, Montana.
To the left here is Steve dancing. Steve was a grass dancer.
And, to the right is a couples dance. Here is Steve and Macile; behind them are Harold Dusty Bull and the founder and head of the H.E.L.P. project (Hollywood Education and Literacy Project), Kinder Hunt. Pulling up the rear in the picture is Saginaw Grant and Toni Running Fisher.
Also, there was Blackfeet style Indian bread and tacos — made by Toni Running Fisher.
To the right here is another view of Steve and Macile dancing the Couples Dance, with Saginaw Grant and Toni Running Fisher not too far behind them.
Here also is a view of some of the men who gave in the drum who gave us the music so the dancers could dance. To the left is another picture of Steve dancing.
To the left here is Steve speaking, and in his hand he holds an eagle feather fan.
To the right is Steve’s beautiful wife, Macile. Macile, by the way, has her own clothing line of Native American clothing.
To the left here is a picture snapped of us when we were visiting the L. Ron Hubbard Author Services Center in Hollywood, CA. From left to right are:
Paul Bailey (my husband); Harold Dusty Bull; Steve Reevis; Macile Reevis and her daughter; me; Toni Running Fisher and her husband Kevin. By the way, the dress I’m wearing in this picture is one of Macile Reevis’ creations.
And lastly, here we all are: the authors, the Drum, Steve and Macile (off to the left).
The event was very successful and the HELP literacy project was also a success on the Reservation, and was up and running there for many years.
I will miss my friend, Steve Reevis. Somehow, I thought he would always be here, alive and well, and I wish that I hadn’t lost touch with his family when my own family moved East. Steve once said to me in a passing conversation, “Why do you think all those warriors in the past would risk their lives?” I didn’t know and said so. Steve then said, “Because they knew they would live again.”
Somewhere, in some other time and place, perhaps, I feel that Steve is still with us, and is, even now, the cause of someone else’s joy and happiness. Good-bye, Steve. You are missed. But I know that wherever you are, those who are with you, love you.
All of the Blackfoot Warrior Series books are on sale for .99 in honor of Steve. Those books are:
Big news! At least for me. THE EAGLE AND THE FLAME has just been released. Am not going to say too much about it, except to say to be sure to leave a comment, cause I’ll be giving away a free e-book to one of you bloggers.
This is a rather long excerpt (Prologue and First 2 Chapters). So without further ado, here is the blurb and excerpt (prologue and first two chapters). Please enjoy!
THE EAGLE AND THE FLAME, by Karen Kay
A vision foretold his tribe’s doom. Is the flame-haired beauty the trickster or his true love?
Lucinda Glenforest’s father, a general who’d fought in the Indian Wars, taught his flame-haired daughter to out-shoot even the best men the military could put up against her. When Luci’s sister is seduced and abandoned, it’s up to Luci to defend her honor in a duel. Although she wins, the humiliated captain and his powerful family vow vengeance. The sister’s only hope is to flee and hide until their father returns from his overseas mission. Out of money, Luci hatches a plan to disguise herself as a boy and use her sharpshooting skills in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.
The chief of the Assiniboine tribe has a terrifying vision, that someone called the deceiver, or trickster, spells doom for the children of his tribe. He enlists Charles Wind Eagle to join Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, in hopes of appealing to the President of the United States for help, and to find and stop the deceiver. When Wind Eagle is paired with a girl whom he knows is disguised as a boy, he believes she might be the deceiver. Still, she stirs his heart in ways he must resist, for he has a secret that can never be told, nor ignored. And Luci can never forget that her father would destroy Wind Eagle if she were to fall in love with him.
Forced to work together, they can’t deny their growing attraction. Will Luci and Wind Eagle find a way through the lies to find true love? Or will they be consumed by the passion of deception and slander?
Warning: A sensuous romance that might cause a girl to join the rodeo in order to find true love.
The Wild West Series
The Assiniboine Sioux Reservation
“Run! Run to them! Help them!”
Ptehé Wapáha, Horned Headdress, couldn’t move. It was as though his feet were tied to the ground with an invisible rope. He attempted to lift his feet one at a time. He couldn’t. Bending, he struggled to remove the shackles that held him prisoner. It was impossible.
Straightening up, he looked down into the Assiniboine camps from his lofty perch upon a hill, and he watched as a cloud of dust and dirt descended from the sky to fall upon the children of the Assiniboine. Helpless to act, he stared at the scene of destruction as each one of the children fell to the ground, their bodies withering to dust. Still, he stood helpless, unable to act in their defense. He heard their cries, their pleas for aid. He reached out to them, he, too, crying. But he couldn’t move; he couldn’t save them.
The cloud lifted. The children were no more; their bones had returned to the earth. Instead, in their place arose a people who appeared to be Assiniboine outwardly, but within their eyes, there showed no spark of life. They appeared to be without spirit, without heart; they were broken—mere slaves.
From the cloud of dirt came the sound of a whip as the people cowered beneath its assault. Then arose the lightning strikes and the thunder. One by one even those soulless people fell to their knees—a conquered people, their heads bowed in fear.
And, then they were no more. All was lost; all was gone.
What force was this? Who or what was this faceless power that had killed the Assiniboine people and their children? He knew it not.
He cried, his tears falling to the ground, but even the essence of this, his body’s grief, was barren. His proud people were no more.
Jerking himself awake, Ptehé Wapáha, Horned Headdress, chief of the Rock Mountain People, sat up suddenly. His sleeping robes fell around him and sweat poured from his body. Tears fell from his eyes as he came fully into the present moment.
At once, he realized that what he had seen had been a mere dream, and, while this might have comforted a lesser being, Horned Headdress knew that there was more to the nightmare. It was a vision, a warning from the Creator: this was what would come to pass if he and his people didn’t act. And now.
But, what was he to do? He didn’t know who this enemy was.
It was then that, wide awake, he beheld a vision unfolding before him as the Creator spoke to him in the language of the sacred spider. And, as the spider weaved his web, pictures of a future time appeared upon that maze, as though it were a backdrop for the images.
Astonishment and fear filled his soul. But, he soon came to realize that the Creator had not warned him in vain, for, upon that same web appeared visions of deeds that would thwart that future evil, if he could but do them.
He must act, and with speed. This he vowed he would do. But how? He was no longer a young man, conditioned to the rigors that would be required. He could not perform the skills necessary to accomplish what must be done.
But there are two youths among our people who can. The thought came to him as though it were his own, but he realized that the words were from the Creator. Moreover, he saw with his mind’s eye, that there were, indeed, two young men who were strong enough and proficient enough to undertake this task.
With a calmness of purpose, Horned Headdress knew what he would do, what he must do….
“Our way of life is endangered, and our people might well be doomed, I fear—all our people—unless we act.”
Twenty-year old, Wa?blí Taté, Wind Eagle, of the Hebina, the Rock Mountain People of the Nakoda tribe, listened respectfully to his chief, Horned Headdress. The chief held an honorable war record, was honest beyond reproach and was known to be wise at the young age of fifty-two years. On this day, Wind Eagle and his ?óla, Iron Wolf, were seated in council within the chief’s spacious sixteen-hide tepee. There were only the three of them present: Horned Headdress; himself, Wind Eagle; and Macá Mázasapa, Iron Wolf, the chief’s son.
“The White Man is here to stay,” continued Horned Headdress. “Many of our chiefs speak of this. Already we have seen changes that are foreign and confusing to us, for their customs are not ours. I have asked you both to this council today because I have dreamed that our people will not long exist if we do not act as a united people. But allow me to explain.
“As you both are aware, the annuities, promised so easily in treaty by the White Father, did not arrive this past winter to replace the hundreds-of-years-old food source, the buffalo. Because of this, too many of the young and the old did not survive the harsh snows and winds that inflicted wrath upon this country; a worse winter cannot be remembered, not even by the very old. All our people are grieved, for every family amongst us lost loved ones, and, I fear that if we do not become like the beaver and act in a fast and well-organized manner, we, as a people, will perish from the face of this earth.
“The Indian agent is partly to blame for this; he put us at a terrible disadvantage, for our men of wisdom and experience, who have always ensured that our people remain alert to future dangers, were rounded up and placed in an iron cage that the agent calls jail. He used Indian police to do this; they were young men from our tribe who listened to this agent’s poisonous tongue, and, feeling they knew best for our people, acted for the agent and not us. They helped him to disarm us, not realizing that their people had need of their guns and their bows and arrows not only to defend their families, but to hunt for food. Later, these same young men lamented their actions, for they learned too late that the Indian agent is not our friend.
“Some of our young men, like yourselves, escaped by hiding until the danger passed. Then, stealing away into the night, these men left to find food and bring it back to supply us with needed rations. But in many cases, the food arrived too late, and the evil face of starvation caused the death of too many of our people.
“We have heard this agent laugh at our plight, but what are we to do, for we have no one else to speak for us to the White Father? We chiefs have spoken often of this matter and have pondered who among us might seek out the White Father and express our grievances.
“Recently I received a vision from the Creator. I have now seen that the danger is not in the past; I have learned that our children have a terrible fate and we might lose them all if we remain here and do nothing to change our future.”
Wind Eagle nodded solemnly; no words were spoken, as befit the purpose of this council.
“I believe I know what must be done,” continued Horned Headdress. “I have seen in vision that there is a white man whose name is Buffalo Bill Cody, who is now visiting our Lakota brothers to the southwest of us. I am told that this man, Buffalo Bill, is not a bad man, though he pursues fame and approval, as well as the white man’s gold. Further, I am told that he searches for those among us who can perform feats of daring, because he would take the best that we have and parade those youths before the White Man. It is said to me that this is the manner in which this man purchases the necessities of living.
“I have discovered that he offers a home for those whom he chooses, as well as the white man’s gold and silver which can be traded for clothing, food and other comforts. He is soliciting youths who can perform trick riding, or who can run as fast as the wind or those who can shoot with precision. He also is asking for young men who are unparalleled in tests of strength and brawn. Wind Eagle, you have proven yourself to be unequalled in shooting the arrow straight, accurately and with a speed that no one in all the nations can match.”
Wind Eagle nodded silently.
“And you, Macá Mázasapa, my son, are the best horseman in all the Nakoda Nation, performing tricks that even the finest riders of the Plains, the Blackfeet, admire.”
Iron Wolf dipped his head in acknowledgement.
“I am now asking you to act for me on behalf of your people; humbly, I would implore you both to travel to the Lakota people on the Pine Ridge Reservation and enter into those contests sponsored by this man, Buffalo Bill.” Horned Headdress paused significantly as though he were choosing his next words with care. “I have seen in vision,” he continued, “that the White Father, or a man representing him, will attend one of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West shows. If I could, I would go in your place, but there are reasons why I cannot. I am no longer a youth who might compete against other youths. Also, I am needed here to counsel our sick and our needy and to act against this Indian Agent on behalf of our people, for this man is still here, is still corrupt, and every day denies our people the food and supplies that have been promised to us by treaty.”
As was tradition in Indian councils, neither young man spoke, both kept their eyes centered downward, in respectful contemplation. Not only was it the utmost in bad manners to interrupt a speaker, but it was a particular taboo to volunteer one’s opinions with an elder of the tribe unless asked to do so. At length, Horned Headdress continued, saying, “I have seen into the future, and I believe that both of you will be accepted by this showman. I ask you this: when the White Father or his representative comes to this show, ask for a private audience with this man, who I believe will grant your request. But beware. I have also seen that all will not be easy for you, for there is a deceiver there. You may come to know this person by being part of Buffalo Bill’s show. Have a care, and do your work well, for this deceiver might be the greatest threat to all the Indian Nations. This trickster, if not recognized and stopped, may bring about death and destruction to our children in ways that our minds do not comprehend. Look for this person, discover who it is, man or woman. Be alert that if we do not learn from what tribe he or she hails, this deceiver could bring disaster not only to us, but to all the Indian Nations, and we, as an Indian people, might die in spirit forever. Identify this person as quickly as you might and disarm him or her, for I do not speak lightly that the fate of our children rests with you.”
He paused for a moment. “And now,” he continued, “I would hear what you wish to say about this burden I ask you to shoulder, for I would know if each one of you stands ready to pit your skills against this ill wind of tragedy for our people.”
Now came the chance for each young man to speak, and they both agreed that they would be honored to bear this responsibility. They would go at once to their Lakota brothers in the south, and yes, they would use all their cunning and strength to prevent any future harm that might befall their people.
Horned Headdress nodded approval. “It is good,” he acknowledged, before adding, “Seek out another young man from your secret clan, the Wolf Clan, once you have been successful in joining Buffalo Bill’s show. Take him into your confidence, for I have also seen that three is oftentimes better protection against evil than two.”
Both young men nodded.
“Wašté, good. Now, listen well, my young warriors, and I will tell you what I wish you to say to the white man’s representative, and what I wish you to do.…”
Wind Eagle looked out from his lofty perch upon a stony ridge, which sat high above the winding waters of the Big Muddy, or as the white man called it, the Missouri River. He faced the east, awaiting the sunrise, his face turned upward, his arms outstretched in prayer. Below him unfolded numerous pine-covered coulees and ravines, jagged and majestic as they cut through the mountains, a range which appeared to never end. The huge rock beneath his moccasined feet felt solid and firm, and, as he inhaled the moist air of the morning, he gazed outward, welcoming the beauty of the Creator’s work.
He sought a vision to guide him on this vital quest for his people. Also, he hoped to ease his troubles, for as Horned Headdress had so elegantly said, the shared tragedy that had destroyed so many of their people had also struck Wind Eagle personally.
It was true that starvation had been the ultimate weapon employed by rogue forces within and without the tribe. Because both the Indian Agent and the Indian police had acted against the people, Wind Eagle’s grandfather had died in those cages the white man called jails. At the time, Wind Eagle and his father had been gone from the village on the hunt for food. But game was scarce, causing his own, and his father’s, absence to extend for too long a time. When they had returned to their village, they had found that many of their friends were now gone. Even his beloved grandmother—the woman who had raised him—had been weak when Wind Eagle and his father had returned. For a short while, it had appeared that she might recover, but it was not to be. Too soon, she had left this life to travel to the Sandhills, where she would join her husband. At least, they would journey on that path together.
It was only a few days past that Ptehé Wapáha, Horned Headdress, had spoken to himself and Iron Wolf, setting the two of them into action. Quickly, they had made their plans and had talked of nothing else for the past two days, and, if they were both picked by the Showman to be a part of the show, each individually knew what his part would be in this vital task. Failure was no option; the life of their people must continue.
Because no delay could be spared, they were to leave this very night to set out upon the trail to the Pine Ridge reservation. They would travel by horseback, the both of them taking two or more of his ponies with him.
But no such journey could commence without first seeking a vision, for only in this way could a man communicate with his Creator. And so Wind Eagle began with a prayer:
“Waka?tanka, hear my plea. I come before you humble, having given away my best clothing to the needy. As is right for my appeal, I have bathed myself in the smoke of many herbs, and have spent many days in prayer. Show me, guide me, to see how I might best aid my chief and my people.”
Then he sang:
“Waka?tanka, wacéwicawecioiya, (Creator, I pray for them)
Waka?tanka, ca jéciyata, (Creator, I call thee by name)
Waka?tanka, ca jéciyata,
Waka?tanka, unkákí japi. (Creator, we suffer)
Waka?tanka, oi?iya. (Creator, help me)
He closed his eyes, inhaling deeply as the sun peeped up from above the horizon. Already, he could feel the sun’s warming rays, and he sighed. It was good, and he became quiet, merging himself with the spirit of Mother Earth, hoping that he might be gifted a vision. Perhaps Waká?ta?ka was attuned to the cries of His people, for Wind Eagle was not left long to linger. As he opened his eyes, he beheld a pair of bald eagles—his namesake—dancing in the cool drafts of the air. Beautiful was their courtship ritual as they climbed ever higher and higher into the airy altitudes of the sky.
Then it happened, the dance of love: locking talons, they spun around and around, spiraling down toward the earth in what might seem be a dive to their death. Still, neither let go of the other, embracing and holding onto each other in their twirling spectacle until the very last moment. From that courtship dance, the pair would mate and form a union that would last their lifetime, and out of that union would appear a new generation of bald eagles. So it had been for thousands of years past; so it was now.
Entranced by the exquisiteness of this show of nature, he didn’t at first see what was before him, didn’t realize the two eagles were now hovering in the air, within his reach. The sound of their flapping wings, however, was loud in the cooling mountain breeze, and, lifting his vision to encompass them both, they spoke to him:
“We, the eagle people, are sent here from the Creator to tell you that He has heard your plea. He has told us to say this to you.
“Learn from us, for we, the eagle people, marry but once, and for all our life. Heed the advice of your heart, since it will lead you on a path that will ensure the well-being of your people. Beware the past mistakes of others. Beware also the one or the many who would hide within the cloak of deceit. Be strong, remain alert, for the way to help your people will be fraught with great danger.
“Opportunity will soon be yours, for your skill is the best in all the Nations. Use this to learn about your peoples’ secret enemy, for it will be through this venture that will appear the chance to free your people from a coming darkness. If you are successful, your acts of valor will be spoken about throughout the Indian Nations.
“Trust your heart, for there is one there who might help you to find peace within your mind and spirit.
“We have spoken.”
Wind Eagle outstretched his arms toward the eagles, and he might have sung his song back to them, but the two birds had already lifted away from him, soaring higher and higher into the sky. Once more, the eagles locked talons, repeating the ancient courtship ritual dance.
Breathing deeply, he watched their magnificent show with respect, until at last the eagles plummeted to the earth, breaking away from one another before striking the ground. Coming together again, they climbed high over the rocks, alighting at last upon their nest. Here, they would love, ensuring that their species survived well into the future.
What was the meaning of their verse? He would relay his vision to his chief, of course, for only in this way could he assure the success of his task. But, before he left, he sang out his thanks in prayer, saying:
“Waka?tanka, I thank you for the vision you have given me.
“Waka?tanka, I honor you. I honor your messengers.
“And now I would seek out my chief that I might ensure I understand fully your instruction to me.”
So saying, Wind Eagle stepped back from the ridge and retraced his steps to his camp. The day was still young, and he felt renewed with purpose.
An infamous dueling field outside Bladensburg, Maryland
May 20th, 1888
The early morning’s cool, gray mist hung low over the dueling field’s short grass and the woods that surrounded it. The lawn and woods-scented air was heavy and moist here at the Bladensburg contesting grounds; and, because this notorious spot lay only a few blocks from Washington DC proper, the atmosphere was further flavored with the scent of smoke from the fires and the wood-burning stoves of the numerous houses in the city. The earth felt mushy and wet beneath her footfalls, and the grass both cushioned and moistened the leather of her boots, as well as the bottom edge of her outfit. There was a chill in the air, and Lucinda Glenforest wore a short jacket of crushed velvet gold over the flowery embroidered skirt of her cream-colored, silky dress. Her bonnet of gold and ivory velvet boasted a brim that was quilled, and the satin bow that was tied high on top, fell into inch-wide strings that tied under her chin. The color scheme complemented her fiery, golden-red hair that had been braided and tied back in a chignon that fell low at the back of her neck. The entire ensemble had been strategically donned in the wee hours of the morning to allow for freedom of movement, which might be more than a little required for the sedate “battle” which was to take place.
Beside her reposed Lucinda’s fifteen-year-old younger sister, Jane, whose condition being only a few months in the making, was, for the moment, hidden. But soon, in less time than Lucinda liked to consider, the consequence of Jane’s ill-fated affair would become evident.
“Don’t kill him, Luci.”
The words served to irritate Luci; not because of Jane’s concern for the swine who had done this to her, but because of Luci’s involvement in a situation that should rightly involve male members of their family. But their father, General Robert Glenforest, had left for the Island of Hawaii on the urgent business of war, and this, because their family had no brother to uphold its honor, left only Luci to contend with the problem. The fact that she possessed the skills to tackle the dilemma was hardly the point.
Being the eldest child in a military family, Luci had been fated to mimic her father’s profession, for General Glenforest had made it no secret that he had hoped his firstborn would be a boy. To this end, he had carefully schooled Luci into the more male occupations of war, of shooting, of defense and of strategic planning. Luci’s own inclinations—which had included dolls and pretend dress-up—were of no consequence to her father. With the feminist movement in full swing, General Glenforest had found favor in openly proclaiming that he hoped Luci would follow in his footsteps, or if this weren’t quite possible, to marry a soldier as like-minded as he. He went further to state that he hoped his daughter would thereafter advise her husband wisely.
As Luci had grown older, she had protested, of course, but it hadn’t done her any good, especially since she enjoyed and stood out in the sport of the shooting gallery. Her prowess in these matches had earned her many a trophy over her male counterparts, and, as time had worn on, she had gone on to win and win and win, even those matches where the man she was pitted against was years older than she.
Now, while it might be true that Luci enjoyed the thrill of shooting matches, it was not factual that she shared other traits of the male gender. After all, she was well aware that she was not a man, and outside of the marksmanship that she excelled in, she held few common threads with the male of the species. Indeed, she often found a boy’s rather crude sense of humor extremely gross and very unfunny.
So it was that she had mastered a defense against her father, her resistance being to dress up and to act in as ladylike a manner as possible. Indeed, she flaunted her femininity, had done so even as a child, especially when her father was in residence. Her rebelliousness had earned her a treasure, though. She had come to love the manner in which she adorned herself. Even her day dresses protested the current trend of the dark colors of black, brown and gray; none of that for her. Her clothing consisted of vivid hues of blue, coral, pink, yellow, green and more. Indeed, she flaunted the style of the walking dress, cutting her version of that style low in the bodice. Tight waists, which hugged her curves, ended in a “V” shape over her abdomen in front and the beginning arc of her buttocks in back. These and other attributes of her clothing asserted her female gender quite vividly. Her bustles were soft and feminine, and were generally trained in back, adding to the aesthetic allure of her costume, while the overall effect of her skirts, draped in gatherings of material, fell like a soft waterfall to the floor.
That this style was considered to be a woman’s attire for only evening gatherings bothered her not in the least. Although she had often heard the whispered gossip doubting the truth of her maidenhood, no one dared to repeat such lies to her face.
Her father, when he was in residence, accused her of playing up her feminine assets too well. But when he had gone on to criticize her too greatly, Luci had merely smiled at him; revenge, it appeared, was sweet. Truth was, left to her own devices, Luci might have made much of her own inclinations, for her heart was purely girlish. Indeed, secretly at home, she enjoyed the more womanly chores of baking, cooking and sewing.
It did bother her that her abilities with a gun appeared to frighten suitors, for at the age of nineteen, she had never known the amorous attentions of any young man; no boyfriends, no male interest in her as a young woman. She’d not even experienced a mild flirtation with a member of the opposite sex. Indeed, it might be said that she was nineteen and ne’er been kissed.
So it was with reluctance that Luci answered her sister’s plea to “not kill him,” saying, “I promised you that I wouldn’t, Janie, and that’s all I can assure you. You must admit that the brute deserves no consideration whatsoever. If father were here, you know that he would demand a Military Tribunal for that man, since both our father and that viper are military. Even a firing squad would be too good, I’m sure. To think, that skunk told you he wasn’t married—“
“He did propose to me.”
“How could he? Janie, he was married when he proposed to you. He’s nothing but a lying thief.”
“He’s not a thief!”
“He took your maidenhood, didn’t he?” Lucinda whispered the words. “Once lost, it’s gone forever. You must see that he deserves to be killed.”
Jane blushed. Still, she persisted, entreating, “Please don’t do it, Luci. Please. I love him so.”
This last was said with such urgency and dramatics, that Luci’s only response was a sigh. If it were up to her…
She still remembered back to a few weeks ago, and to Janie’s confession.
Luci had found her blond and beautiful fifteen-year-old sister locked in her room, grieving. On enquiry, Jane had confessed her problem. “I’m pregnant, Luci. We had planned a June wedding. But now?…”
“Pregnant? Had planned a June wedding?”
“He’s married. I didn’t know. I swear I didn’t. He told me he loved me, and that we would be married in June. But when I came to him to tell him of the child, he laughed at me.”
“He laughed? You’re telling this to me truly? He honestly laughed?”
Jane cried and seemed unable to speak. She nodded instead.
“Who is this man?”
Jane hiccupped. “I…promise me that you won’t kill him.”
“How can I say that to you in view of what has happened? And with Father gone. Now, tell me, who is this man? You know I’ll find out one way or the other.”
“I suppose you will. But please, I can’t reveal his name to you unless I have your word that you won’t kill him.”
Luci paused. She could force the issue, but she would rather not. Perhaps it was because Jane was more like a daughter to her than a sister, for Luci had taken on the role of “mother” at the age of four, when their own mother, shortly after giving birth to Jane, had passed on to the heavenly plane. Plus, their father had never remarried. Luci uttered, “I will do my best not to kill him, Janie. But that’s all I can promise.”
Sniffing, Jane blew her nose on the dainty handkerchief in her hand, then at length, she admitted, “I guess that’s good enough. I think you might know him. It’s Captain Timothy Hall. But please, don’t be angry at him. I love him so.”
Of course Luci knew the worthless snake. He had once courted Abagail Swanson, one of her best girlfriends, who also had been underage at the time. Luckily for her friend, she had discovered the truth of Hall’s marital state before he’d been able to inflict permanent damage on her.
What was wrong with the man? Was his twenty-year-old wife already too old for him? Was he a pervert?
Oh, what she would like to do to him if the society around them would only allow it.…
Well, that was all in the recent past; what was done was done. Today was the day he would pay. Today, that no-account slime would contend with her, and Luci pledged to herself that her sister’s honor, as well as that of their family, would be avenged.
Once again, she thought back to the last few weeks. In less than twenty-four hours after her talk with Janie, Luci had challenged the bearded, black-haired degenerate, and had done so in as public a place as possible, a garden party. He had laughed at her, of course, when she had confronted him, and, using her gloves, she had slapped his face.
“You’re a two-timing scoundrel, Captain Hall, and I challenge you to a duel. Make no mistake, I will protect and defend my family’s honor.”
“You? A woman? Dueling me?” He snickered. “I wouldn’t stoop so low.”
“Low? Are you a coward, then? Is your problem that your spine runs yellow? You know that no man has ever bested me in the skill of the shooting gallery.”
His answer was nothing more than a loud hiss.
“My second will act at once, setting the time and place of the duel. And hear me out, if you don’t show, I will ensure that all the country in and around Washington DC, as well as your wife, will know not only of your misdeeds, but also of your cowardice. And this, I promise.”
Still, she thought, he might not come. For now, she awaited her second, as well as those in Hall’s party. She picked up her pistol—a Colt .45—checking it over carefully, swearing to herself what she would do to him if the wicked man didn’t show.…
“The rules for this duel are as follows,” declared Sergeant Anthony Smyth, a tall, dark-haired gentleman, who was Luci’s second. Smyth was an excellent marksman in his own right, which was one reason why Luci had picked him to preside over the duel. That both he and his wife were close family friends had aided Luci in making the choice. But Smyth was continuing to speak, and he said, “The match continues to first blood, and, regardless of how minor the injury, the match then ends. No further shots are legal, and will not be tolerated. The twenty paces, which were agreed upon in writing, have been marked out by a sword stuck in the ground at each side of the field. When I drop the handkerchief that I hold in my hand, you may each advance and fire. Lieutenant Michaels is on duty as the official surgeon.” Sergeant Smyth glanced first at Luci, then at Captain Timothy Hall. “Are there any questions?”
When neither she nor Captain Hall spoke up, Sergeant Smyth continued, “Then it is begun.”
Luci glanced down the field, estimating her distance, as well as determining where exactly she would place her shot. Having already decided that a shoulder injury would be the easiest to heal, she calculated the precise angle that would be required to obtain that “first blood,” and end the match. Next to Captain Hall stood his older brother, James Hall, his second.
Behind Luci, well to her rear and out of shooting range, sat Janie, who had brought a blanket to cushion the soft ground upon which she sat. Refreshments of cinnamon rolls and coffee, with plates and coffee cups, decorated a table next to Janie. As was expected by the rules of conduct for all matters concerning dueling, both Janie and Luci had brought the refreshments for the participants today, including that serpent, Captain Tim Hall.
Luci hadn’t easily consented to the early morning snack, but her friend, Sergeant Smyth, had already determined that the duel would follow the rules of personal combat exactly, making her obligated to provide the food and drink.
She sighed as she awaited the signal to begin, but she never once glanced away from her target. To do so might be fatal.
Smyth dropped the handkerchief, and both duelists fired at will. Luci’s shot hit Hall in the shoulder, as she had intended, while Hall’s volley missed her entirely.
“First blood has been taken,” called out Sergeant Smyth. “The match now ends as formerly agreed upon. All participants are to put down their weapons, and all are invited to coffee and rolls, which they will find at the far side of the field. A surgeon is on hand to deal with your wound, Captain Hall.”
Luci turned away, setting her gun down on the table next to her.
The explosion was unexpected. The match was finished, wasn’t it? If so, why was Captain Hall still firing at her?
Hall’s next shot hit her in her left upper arm.
“Stop this at once!” shouted Smyth. “Halt! This is illegal!”
But Luci ignored her second in command; she was in a gun fight and under attack; his words didn’t even register with her. With the quick reflexes of one who is in command of her weapon, she grabbed hold of her Colt, turned, and carefully aimed her shot to do the most damage to Captain Hall without killing him.
She sent her answering bullet at Captain Timothy Hall, placing the slug high up on his thigh, intending the bullet to miss, yet graze his masculine parts. His loud cry indicated she had been successful. She turned her pistol on Hall’s second—James Hall—who had picked up his own gun, as though he might consider using it against her, also, illegal though it was.
“Captain Hall, you and your brother must cease this at once. You will be reported. You and your second will likely be court martialed if you continue firing,” Sergeant Smyth yelled, as he hurried toward Luci, his own Colt drawn and aimed at the two culprits. But his threat fell on deaf ears. Hall had fallen to the ground, his shrieks indicating he was in too much pain to be of any more use in a gunfight. Hall’s brother, James, however, looked ready to continue the match, except that when he espied Luci’s Colt pointed directly at him, as well as Smyth’s drawn weapon, James Hall instead dropped his gun and held his hands up in surrender.
Luci nodded. But that was all that she did. Without letting her guard down, she kept her weapon trained on both the Hall brothers as she paced to where Jane sat at the side of the field. Bending, Luci grabbed hold of her sister by the arm and pulled her up. Then, without turning her back on Captain Hall and his brother, she made her retreat toward the street, where her coach awaited.
“Make a report of this at once,” she instructed Smyth, as well as Lieutenant Michaels, the military surgeon. “Let all know what a cowardly slime Captain Hall truly is. My father must be informed, and he will thank you both for doing so.”
Without cause to do more at the moment, Luci and Jane slowly withdrew, Jane leading the way to their coach, for Luci never once turned her back on her opponent. That the screams of Captain Timothy Hall wafted through the air was music to Luci’s ears. By measured retreat, they gained the street and the carriage, and Jane practically flew into her seat within.
“Driver!” yelled Luci as she quickly followed her sister into the conveyance. “Take us to the army telegraph office as quickly as possible!” Seating herself with care, she continued, declaring to Jane, “We must send Father word of this at once.”
“Why, you’re hurt!”
It was true. The exact extent of the damage was yet to be determined, and it was only now, within the relative safety of their coach, that Luci realized her arm hurt unbearably.
Yet, to Janie, all she said was, “It is only a scratch, soon healed. But come, Jane, please tear off a part of my petticoat, and give it to me to tie, that I might stop this bleeding, for I fear it is staining my blouse.”
“Leave it to you to consider only the damage to your clothing,” scolded Jane as she did as instructed. It was also she who tied the tourniquet. “As soon as we arrive at our home, I will summon our surgeon to attend to you at once.”
“After we send that telegraph to father,” amended Luci. “I fear we have not heard the last of Captain Hall and his brother. Though I feel assured that Mr. Smyth will also telegraph word to our father on any channel available to him, he may not be able to do this at a speed that could be required to ensure our good health.”
“What do you mean?”
Luci sent her sister a cautious glance. With the duel having gone as badly as it had, it was not in Luci’s nature to instill even more alarm in Jane, especially considering her delicate condition. Nevertheless, a word of attentiveness might be in order.
To this end, she patted Jane’s hand, smiled at her and said, “When Captain Hall heals from the wound I inflicted upon him, he might feel compelled to seek us out for daring to expose his base nature to his fellow military officers. A man who would flaunt the rules of honor cannot be trusted. And I fear—”
“Luci, please,” Jane cried, tears in her eyes. “What he has done is wrong, so very, very wrong, but please do not keep degrading his character to me. A scoundrel he is, I have no doubt, and I feel terrible that he has hurt you, but I am, after all, carrying his child. I wish I weren’t, Luci, but it is done, and I must bear the consequences of my actions. However, I fear that, as he is the babe’s father, he may have rights that even I don’t understand. I should try to discover a good trait he might possess, for I fear that I may have to deal with him in the future.” She pulled out a hanky from her purse and blew her nose. “Is it possible that he might have some logical reason as to why it was necessary to continue to fire at you when he should have stopped? Perhaps it was a reaction he could not control?”
“He fired two illegal shots at me, Janie, not one.”
“Oh, how hard it is to love a man so much,” Janie uttered with so much heartfelt passion that Luci was reminded of her sister’s youth—and the hardship of being pregnant at so young an age. “I know it’s true enough that he lied to me, but that doesn’t make him all bad, does it? I once found good in him. It must still be there. Oh, Luci, it hurts to love him so. It hurts.”
Momentarily, Luci felt at a loss for words. She made up for that lack by patting Jane’s hand instead.
“It will get better,” she assured Jane at last. “I know it might seem now as though the hurt will never heal. But it will.” She sighed. “It will. And perhaps you are right. Maybe in the future we might be dealing with a good man. I guess one could say that only the future will declare the truth of his character. We can hope, Janie, we can hope.”
Luci averted her gaze to stare at the closed, royal blue curtains that fell down over the windows of the carriage. Enough said. She would send this telegram to their father, then wait and see what might unfold. Reaching over to pull that blue, velvet curtain away from the window, she watched as the sun came up in the east.
Good Morning (or afternoon or evening) and welcome to another terrific Tuesday. Well, I have some good news. I hope you’ll find it good news. My very first book ever, LAKOTA SURRENDER, which has been out of print for 26 years, is now going back into print. At present it’s only in e-book format, but soon (very soon, I hope), it will be released once again in paperback for the first time in 26 years. It’s a big deal for me. Lots of editing (once again) to hopefully make it a tighter book. The story line hasn’t changed at all, it’s only that it’s a bit of a tighter book, I think. Here’s the cover.
I love this cover. As I was doing the final look through on the edits, I had at the same time just received the cover for the first time. It blew me away. What do you think?
So I’ll be giving this e-book as a gift to one of you bloggers today who leave a message, so do leave a message, if you please. So, with this book newly out in print (hopefully soon), I thought I’d post the blurb and an excerpt. Hope you enjoy.
25th Anniversary Edition, publishing November 1, 2019
Lakota, Book 1
As she travels west to join her cavalry officer father at his Kansas outpost, Kristina Bogard eagerly anticipates new adventures—and her first glimpse of wild Indians. She has long dreamed of flashing black eyes, skin-covered lodges and buckskin and leather.
What she finds in Fort Leavenworth, though, is a far cry from her Indian nanny’s thrilling stories. What few natives she’s encountered have been broken shadows of their proud past. All except one. A handsome warrior who stands tall and proud. A warrior who stirs up an entirely new set of dreams and emotions for Kristina.
Tahiska can’t take his eyes off the green-eyed beauty whose graceful hands are fluent in his native sign language. But he can’t afford to let anything distract him from avenging his father, who was murdered by two white soldiers.
Though anger fills his mind, Kristina steals into his heart, igniting a wildfire passion that must remain their desperate secret. For soon comes the day of reckoning, when justice will be served…or a travesty will shatter their love.
This is the 25th Year Anniversary Edition of this book
Warning: Sensuous romance for the romantic at heart
July 4, 1833
The sun had scarcely been up an hour. The grass was still glistening with dew. The scents of early morning and of breakfast permeated the air.
Kristina brushed her forearm over her brow, her hand gripping the musical tuning fork. She was glad she had already consumed her morning meal. This tuning of the piano was requiring more time then she had anticipated. Soon the fort would come alive with soldiers and traders. She would like to have the piano tuned before it became too crowded.
She was seated at the instrument in the open air, on an erected, foot-high platform. As with most young women her age, Kristina had been taught music at a young age. But, while others played only at small, quiet gatherings, Kristina openly defied convention and played with the cavalry band.
The piano had been moved out of the church last night and set here at the head of the main courtyard, but she’d had little opportunity to tune it last evening. Besides, she had justified to herself, it was better to let the piano sit overnight. The adjusting might hold better.
She worked as quickly as she could. Because it was the Fourth of July, there would be a grand celebration today and the piano was needed to fill in with the band, not only for the raising of the flag, but also for the party afterwards.
She glanced toward the sun in irritation. Already she was warm and the day had just barely started.
She leaned over the instrument, played a middle C, then a C one octave higher, turning the wooden peg until she was pleased with the sound. She hit the tuning fork once again and struck the two notes. Satisfied, she advanced to C sharp.
The sound echoed through the fort, creating a hollow twang whose eerie song had never before been heard by the three pairs of Indian ears.
Tahiska and his two companions were awake and alert long before the sun became a red orb in the eastern sky. The journey to the soldier fort took usually a full moon, but the three young warriors, anxious for revenge, had traversed the distance in three weeks, changing mounts often, traveling into the night and sleeping little.
Tahiska’s heart was saddened still, and, though anger coursed through his veins, he couldn’t deny that there was an excitement about this day that eluded him. Perhaps he would meet his own death today. Perhaps. But he did not think so. A premonition stirred his soul; a feeling that an undertaking of importance was to happen today. He knew it. He could feel it. He had sensed it even as he had hunted and eaten a breakfast of berries and fresh meat. Yes, today was a good day.
The three young warriors had prepared themselves earlier in the morning and had washed in a creek close by, praying to Wakan Tanka, the God of all, for courage and bravery in the face of an enemy they had yet to meet.
Tahiska had formulated his plans well. He did not intend to wage his war against the entire fort. Though his emotions urged him to kill any white person available for atonement, his personal ethic would not allow him to commit such an immoral act. And, he schooled himself to think clearly. He would kill the two who had committed the crime and none else. Such was the courtesy he would show the white man. So it was for this reason that he and his friends would not wear the customary war paint into the fort. Only after he had singled out the two murderers would he prepare for battle.
No, first he would meet with their chief and ask for the murderers to be turned over to his own party. If this failed, and he had no way of anticipating the actions of the white people, he had other plans.
They dressed this day for council, not for war, and, leaving their horses hobbled in their camp, they made their way to the fort on foot. They stood outside the gates, awaiting entry.
They were, each one, dressed richly in elk and deerskins. Their shirts were made of delicate, soft leather, each one fringed and decorated with ornamental porcupine quills. Their leggings were fringed and fell to their moccasins, which in their own turn were adorned with beads and colorful quills. Slung horizontally across their backs were their bows, quivers, and shields. Their lances they held in their hands. While his two friends were dressed in tan, Tahiska was wearing white, and, when the white man acknowledged their presence, it was Tahiska to whom the soldiers addressed their inquiries.
But the white man’s tongue was strange, and only through a long dissertation of repeated signs was Tahiska able to tell the white soldiers that he and his party had come to speak with the fort’s chief. While Tahiska was stunned to learn that the soldiers were in ignorance of the language of hand signs, which was so common and well known on the plains, good manners kept his scorn carefully hidden.
They waited for permission to enter the fort. To an outsider their expressions would seem dour, but courtesy forbid them to show any emotion; their anger, even their contempt at being kept waiting in the ever-increasing heat of the day, was shrouded behind their eyes. They stood patiently, not making a move at all.
It was more than an hour later that the strange notes carried over the garrison walls. The sound was eerie, mysterious, and the Indians began to wonder if Wakan Tanka had heard their prayers this day.
As was the custom at the fur company, so too, at the fort, the Indians’ weapons were placed in an arsenal. Tahiska demanded, and was allowed, possession of his bow. Tahiska sought out the soldiers in the white man’s building and was at last able, through painfully crude sign language, to convey to the soldiers that he desired a council with the white man’s chief. Just as crudely and with great deliberation, the white soldiers told the Indians to return when the sun was at its zenith. Today was the Fourth of July, a holiday. The white chief could see them no sooner. The Indians nodded understanding and turned to leave.
As they strode back into the sun, Tahiska quickly scanned the fort. It took only a second, but his practiced gaze missed nothing—the two women to his right, one hundred yards away; the three soldiers, each carrying one firestick and a long knife; the two guards parading the planks of the garrison walls, each armed with one firestick and another long knife. He sized up the men as opponents, observed that there was no other exit but the gate they had just entered through, and wondered at the buildings along the road. The area around him was practically deserted, though there were sounds of movement elsewhere within the fort.
Tahiska was astounded at the late hour in which the fort commenced to do business. Had he been at home, he could already have hunted for himself and another family. But his thoughts were not revealed on his face, his expression guardedly blank.
There it was again. That sound. The eerie song they had heard over the fort’s walls that morning. It shrieked through the morning air, its sound more disturbing than the cry of a raven. Tahiska’s gaze searched the sky for the cause, but he could see nothing. He had no indication his medicine was bad this day, yet this melody made him uneasy.
“Spread out, investigate each tepee, each home,” Tahiska commanded, “Wahtapah, you on this side and you, Neeheeowee, on the other. I will see what sort of bird sings this song. I will see if it is good medicine or bad. When the sun is high, we meet here. Now go.”
Kristina sat at the piano bench, hunched over the instrument. She had one leg beneath her, one leg on the floor, and her skirts settled around her. The job of tuning the piano was almost done and she was feeling quite pleased with herself. Just two more octave notes and she was finished. She played one, then the other, turning the peg until she was satisfied. This done she moved farther down the piano and began to play a song.
An odd sensation swept over her skin, leaving goose bumps along her arms and a prickly feeling at the back of her neck. She played a few more notes, then cocked her head to the side, her peripheral vision catching a glimpse of a white-clad figure. Thinking her senses were playing tricks on her again, Kristina started to turn away when the clean scent of prairie grass caught at her breath. She stopped, her fingers in midair, as the earth beneath her seemed to reel. To counter the sensation she set both feet on the ground and spun around.
She had to look a long way up to meet the black eyes that were watching her intently. Her breath caught in her throat, and Kristina had to force herself to exhale. Perhaps, she decided, it would be best to stand.
Clutching the piano with her hands behind her, she stood, noting with a mixture of dread, plus an odd sort of excitement, that this Indian stranger stood a good head taller than she.
She stared into his face. He looked foreign, wild, and yet oddly familiar.
She tried to smile, but it was shaky. “Hello,” she tried.
He said nothing, his expression registering nothing, as well, and he looked her directly in the eye.
Kristina, unused to such open scrutiny, blushed, not understanding that he gazed at her so openly because he was uncertain if she were friend or foe. Where have I seen him before? Nervously, she wrung her hands, then gestured toward the piano. “I…I was just tuning it for the…ce…celebration today.”
His glance had left her eyes, was now roaming slowly, meticulously over the golden tan of her hair, the soft oval of her face, her nose, her lips, then downward toward her neck, stopping at the material of her gown as it clung to her shoulders.
His gaze jerked back to hers. Quickly he signed a greeting and Kristina visibly relaxed, for she knew this language well.
She moved her hands, motioning a response, but also asking, “Where are you from—what tribe?”
He didn’t answer, but instead trod to her side, next to the piano.
Kristina noted several things about him all at once: the fluid way he moved, as though it took no effort; the lone tooth dangling from a leather cord around his neck; the beaded earrings hanging from both earlobes, giving him not an air of effeminacy as one would have expected, but a sense of potent strength. His hair was quite long, reaching way past his shoulders, and Kristina was startled to note that it did not detract from his allure. He was probably the most handsome man she’d ever seen.
“What is this?” he signed, indicating the piano. He hadn’t looked at her, but when he turned back to her, catching her scrutiny of him, Kristina felt so embarrassed she couldn’t control the flush that warmed her face. Realizing her cheeks were awash with color, she averted her gaze.
“It’s a piano,” she stated, stumbling over what to sign in reply, finally settling for “song-maker.” “Pi-a-no,” she repeated, pointing to it.
She pressed down on a key; then another and another.
“See, when you finger it, it sings.” She attempted another uncertain smile. “Here, I’ll show you.”
She invited him with gestures to tap a key, but he was not cooperative, and his face revealed no expression whatsoever.
“Here.” She touched his hand. At the contact a sudden tremor shot up her arm, causing her to gasp.
She pulled back, her eyes darting up to his, but she couldn’t easily read his thoughts. His stare was unwavering, and she wondered if she were the only one who had felt it—the shock.
He silenced her with a sign.
Neither one spoke. Neither one moved. And, for a moment, a short space of time, she felt her world stop.
The sun beat down its warmth upon them, and its tawny rays caught a fiery red highlight in his hair, reminding her of fire and passion. All at once, Kristina thought she might burst.
She turned away, but this time, he reached out toward her. It was a light graze, lasting only a moment, its intent clearly to keep her from leaving. A simple gesture. That’s all it was. Yet Kristina felt a jolt all through her body.
He motioned her to sit.
She complied, almost without thinking.
“Sing,” he motioned.
“Sing?” she asked aloud.
He gestured towards the keys, signing again, “Sing.”
“Oh, I see. You want me to play.” She fingered the keys lightly, not pressing down on them. “Like this?”
With one hand, he motioned, ”Yes.”
She played then, her attention not on the notes, but rather on the man who stood at her side. Without thought, her hands moved over the cool, ivory keys in the haunting melody of Pachelbel’s “Canon”; Kristina closed her eyes, trying to concentrate on what she was doing, not on the virile Indian watching her intently. It made no difference. Every other sense she had was alerted to him, from the clean scent of him to the muffled sound of his soft, white-bleached clothing as he moved.
Moved? Kristina played the last note and opened her eyes to find the Indian not at her side as she had thought, but in front of her, the height of the piano between them. She gazed up at him, over the piano, catching a look in his eye that might have been—admiration? She couldn’t be sure because it was so quickly gone that she wondered if she had only imagined it.
“Kristina,” Julia exclaimed, bursting onto the scene. “Come quickly. There’s news that…there’s…” Julia’s words gradually slowed. “That…there…are wild Indians… Kristina, I think you’ve discovered this for yourself.”
“Yes,” Kristina said. She glanced down as she rose from the piano. She had to get away. She wasn’t sure what had happened to her just now and she needed time alone to consider it. Without stopping to think, she quickly signed a good morning to the Indian, smiled unsteadily in his direction, and dashed toward Julia. The tingling sensation at the back of her neck told her the Indian’s gaze had never left her.
What had happened? Why did he look so familiar?
Well, that’s it for now. Please do leave a message and let me know what you think about the cover and also about the excerpt. But most of all, have a beautiful day.
Welcome to another terrific Tuesday. The prairie. When we drive through the prairie in our modern day times, we see lots of farming, and, of course, very flat land.
The prairie is so much a part of the West, it’s hard to think of the Western without the prairie. In Kansas and Missouri, the prairie had grasses sometimes so tall that a man on a horse would disappear into the grass. Did you know that? I think it was when I was first researching the West and the Prairie that I came across that info.
BRAVE WOLF AND THE LADY was a 2018 release. One of the reviewers of that book made a comment that the book was really about the Prairie and the feeling of being there on the prairie at that time when the story takes place.
Very intentionally I wrote about my fascination about the prairie, and it was wonderful to see that someone else appreciated it, too.
One of the sources of research that I like most is George Catlin, who in 1835, sailed up the Missouri on a steamboat in order to paint the Indians. Here’s a quote from Catlin from around 1835 concerning the prairie seen on the Missouri,the Platte and the Arkansas Rivers. He’s talking about a Prairie Fire here.
“But the burning plain has another aspect when the grass is seven or eight feet high and the flames are driven by the hurricanes that often sweep over the meadows of the Missouri, the Platte, and the Arkansas. This grass is so high that we were obliged to stand in our stirrups to look over its waving tops.”
Catlin, George. My Life Among the Indians (1909) (p. 199). Unknown. Kindle Edition.
In doing some research for the book, THE ANGEL AND THE WARRIOR, I traveled over the Prairie of Kansas and along the Arkansas River, where my story was to take place. Sometimes, one can visit some of the off-the-beaten-track places, where they have preserved the prairie as it once was. Many travelers at that time called it the sea of green — constant and flowing and seemingly never ending.
I soaked up the feeling of the prairie, trying to imagine what it would have been like at that time for the hero and heroine. Loved reading about the Santa Fe Trail and all the adventures that the pioneers had along the way.
This book, THE ANGEL AND THE WARRIOR, is about that prairie, as well, and about those that traveled on The Santa Fe Trail.
Here’s another quote from Catlin’s book:
“The high grass, being filled with wild-pea vines and other impediments, render it necessary to take the zigzag trails of the deer and buffalo.”
Catlin, George. My Life Among the Indians (1909) (pp. 199-200). Unknown. Kindle Edition.
In another book, my very first book, LAKOTA SURRENDER, I make mention of and have an entire scene wrapped around a prairie wild fire. Again, the idea was sparked by a prairie wild fire that Catlin was in, and almost didn’t escape.
Here’s what he says:
“White man,” said he, “see that small cloud rising from the prairie. He rises. The hoofs of horses have waked him. The Fire Spirit is awake; this wind is from his nostrils, and his face is this way.” He said no more, but his swift horse darted under him, and he slid over the waving grass as it was bent before the wind. We were quickly on his trail. The extraordinary leaps of his wild horse occasionally raised his shoulders to view, then he sank again in the waving billows of grass. On the wind above our heads was an eagle. His neck was stretched for the towering bluff, and his thrilling screams told of the secret that was behind him. Our horses were swift and we struggled hard, but our hope was feeble, for the bluff was yet blue and nature nearly exhausted. The cool shadow advancing over the plain told that the sun was setting. Not daring to look back we strained every nerve. The roar of a distant cataract seemed gradually overtaking us. The wind increased, and the swift winged beetle and the heath hens drew their straight lines over our heads. The fleet bounding antelope passed us, and the still swifter, long legged hare, who leaves but a shadow as he flies. Here was no time for thought, but I recollect that the heavens were overcast, the distant thunder was heard, and the lightning reddening the scene, and the smell that came on the wind struck terror to my soul. The piercing yell of my savage guide at this moment came back on the wind, his robe was seen waving in the air, as his foaming horse leaped up the bluff.
Our breath and our sinews were just enough, in this last struggle for life, to carry us to the summit. We had risen from a sea of fire. Now looking back, still trembling from our peril, I saw beneath me a cloud of black smoke which extended from one extremity of this vast plain to the other, and seemed to roll over the surface of a bed of liquid fire. Above this mighty desolation the white smoke rose like magnificent cliffs to the skies. Then behind all this we saw the black and smoking desolation left by this storm of fire.”
Catlin, George. My Life Among the Indians (1909) (p. 202). Unknown. Kindle Edition.
What an amazing accounting. Sometimes, I think when we pass through this country, it’s wonderful to remember how it once was. And so, the tall grass prairie is something that I think is thrilling to add to a story.
What do you think?
I’ll be giving away one of these e-books to one of the bloggers here today. She can have her pick as to which one. Thanks so much for coming here today, and thanks for participating. Be sure to leave a comment
Above here, are me and my brother-in-law in a short grass prairie in Montana. And below here is my darling husband, also in a short grass prairie in Montana.