My recent work aint got one. I'm about to wrap up my second book and I just wanted to take a few minutes to write why it's so dang hard to finish.
Have any of ya'll ever created something? By that, what I mean to say is, have ya'll ever poured your heart into something that you begin to feel so intensely, reality and make believe get blurred?
How about thoughts? This work has honestly taken me inside the minds of each character and I have to say, I am amazed at what I've found.
When I first started this piece, I didn't know what to think of my main characters, Kiowa and Anoki. Both are American Indian. When I first conceived the idea, I thought their scope narrow. Their logic primitive. And their emotions controlled by their most basic necessity, food. This journey has shown me that I was wrong on all counts.
To begin with, the Indian of just one hundred and seventeen years ago was an artist. As was every red skinned man and woman before him. You can see it in the paint they used to go to war, the animals they colored, the tipis they decorated, and their clothes. The oldest decor I've found in a museum has the brightest colored beads and the best renditions of their magic and inspirational animals. Yes sir, they were in fact artists! Good ones too. At the American Indian museum in D.C., you will find that colors were the center of their universe.
Second, Indians had deep love in their hearts for their mates. I don't think Colonists or even modern day America could understand the powerful grip of an Indian heart. When they committed to each other, they shared a flame that withered only in flesh over time, but not in eternal brightness in heart or warmth of their spirits. The objects of their love, their children, were their most prized possessions. They would do anything for their children! If you wanted to experience the extreme wrath of any Native tribe, do something stupid like mess with their kids. There was no limit to the extremes they would go to for their children.
Next would be their tribes. They were insanely loyal to each other, but that loyalty was not defined by our terms, which would seem savage, but by their own Indian laws. The first thing everyone reading this needs to understand about Indians is that Indians roamed the plains and went to war with each other same as they did with white settlers. They stole from each other. They killed each other. But that was their way. They didn't have an economy that was centered on money, so they valued functional things that had use to them. Horses were #1.
They were musicians. Poets. Philosophers. Adventurers. They were and still are a people that surprise me in every way. They ring the bell of inspiration in me and I can't stop reading about them. Since I started this book two years ago, I've been reading one book a month. I've been so moved by books like, "Bury Me At Wounded Knee," and "My Life as An Indian," and "Slave of the Sioux." I'm left wanting to know more. Always more. I've read twenty books and traveled to the best museums to find out everything I could about them. I've observed their offspring and watched their dances. I have been the silent observer to their way of life and an unexpected thing has happened. They have inspired me.
Now many of you probably have one perspective or another of Native Americans. Here's a few things you should know before you enter their world.
Don't go in with preconceived notions. There are three things to remember.
1) The stuff you see on T.V. is make believe. "Dances with Wolves," is no more real than "Tanto." Most Indians were warriors or hunters first and foremost. If you were a foreigner white/red/yellow/black and encountered a tribe, you stood a really good chance of getting slaughtered and scalped. Male, Female, and child were no exceptions to the burning post and the scalping knife. One of our earliest encounters with Indians is Captain John Smith and Pocahontas. Captain Smith just about got his brains bashed out before the Chief's favorite daughter Pocahontas threw herself on him and mercifully saved his life. If the warriors had succeeded in killing Captain Smith, they would have scalped him. Many tribes scalp, because they believe the spirit is trapped in the scalp. By taking your scalp, they would imprison your soul in a dream weave. Also, scalps were trophies. Most tribes valued warriors. So the more scalps you had, the greater warrior you were. Think of scalps as Super Bowl rings. The more rings you have, the better player you are. Because of these hard facts, I naturally assumed Indians were savages. And though that was true for many tribes, many tribes were no different structurally than the whites of their time. Except maybe in appearance and practice. In some ways, the Indians were even more advanced. They had a say in their government, whereas the colonists did not. They had a say in law-making, something colonists had in practice but not implementation. They valued something the American colonies didn't have or even understand, freedom. Though you may disagree with that fact, consider this, we were all subjects of the King of England. And England was set on keeping us oppressed. To summarize numero uno, Indians didn't just demand respect, they freaking earned respect. They did that by maintaining a well-regulated militia, or tribe.
2) Their God's are numerous and sometimes difficult to understand. But in the end, all you need to understand is that Indians believed in magic. Magic could be found in literally millions of ways. One of the things I found most interesting about the Kiowa is that they prayed to two different God's. One that would tell them to do good. Another that would tell them to do bad. The motivations of most Indians can be traced directly back to the answers they got from those prayers. To sum up numero doce, Indians are deeply religious! And their Gods are not peaceful like the Christian God. Remember that religion influences motivation. Motivation leads to action. Actions of Indians examined by modern eyes will often yield the same results as Colonial eyes. Savagery at its apex. Of course, by modern standards, Catholic rule and expansion throughout Europe and later South America would be met with equivalent criticism, so if you're going to have a narrow focus and you get both of those results, you are totally missing the experience! To accurately understand Indians or Catholics, you have to put yourself in their time period and their frame of mind. Do not be so narrow-minded as to criticize their Gods. Instead, see what their motivation was and let them tell you their story, uninterrupted.
3) Tribal culture was as varied and unique as fingerprints. The greatest crime the American Government committed (in my opinion) was rolling all Indians up in one tortilla, Good with the Bad, and punishing them all the same. Thank you Andrew Jackson! Some cultures were incredibly violent. They attacked and killed for the fun of it. The Minnesota massacre is just one example. Grass Woman, or Sacagawea's story is another example of Indian violence. For those of you who don't know, Sacagawea was kidnapped from her Snake Indian tribe. numero trace summarized, do not make the mistake of attributing one tribe's crimes to another. That would be equivalent to comparing Nazi Germany with London.
I've done my best to incorporate these experiences into a book I'll soon be releasing. It's titled, "Ch'i Ma Kue." Translated (hopefully correctly) it means, "Man, Woman, Wolf." Tonight, I am struggling to write the end, because my characters, Kiowa and Anoki have become so real to me, I don't want to let go. I've been lost in their world, and as I sit and finish their story, I am struggling to say good-bye. Even to the point of tears.
I can't imagine many of you would understand what I'm saying, but for the ones who can, the crazies, the inventors of worlds, the dream catchers, the imaginary infinite, this is a message in a bottle to you. #tots #sad