Santa Cruz, California, October 28th, 2014

Santa Cruz, California, October 28th, 2014

Monday, April 7, 2014

Authentic Jennifer , but no fake Native Americans.

Now, I'm going out on a limb here and tossing out an idea.

How authentic does a writer need to be? I'll give you some ideas, and you tell me what you think.

In Courting Morrow Little, a masterpiece, MASTERPIECE, in how to ratchet up the tension and exhaust the reader, Laura Frantz takes an Oglala Lakota leader from the 1800's and moves him to the Shawnee in Kentucky in the 1700's. 

THAT doesn't faze me at all. He was still the same man, in essence, and the respect given his character versus the real man was identical. 

Moving people back and forth through history is done all the time, in film and other books. It is an accepted literary vehicle for telling a story. 

In fiction, especially sci-fi and fantasy, cultures are made up all the time. Hello, Pandora? That film had an indigenous culture that was well created, and well written. 

But recently, I read a book, no names, nuh uh, not going there... that bothered me.  REALLY bothered me.

A LOT!!!

The story itself was lovely.

But the author made up a tribe. 

Read that again.


Now, given the research that was done in regards to the historical era, clothing, politics, and even the type of horse drawn conveyance, WHY did the writer make up a tribe?

To me, and only to ME, (pulling the personal opinion card) IF there is an indication that there existed an actual settlement or settlements of a group of individuals that collectively made up an established culture or people group, why the sam hill does somebody take the un-necessary step of making up a tribe?????

TO ME, that is the same as calling a tribe or nation "The Comanchesiouxs". Or the "Scottirish."

See? You'd be annoyed too.

Later that same day...

I just did an informal poll on Facebook. And for ME, it comes down to this:

If I am going to tell a story, tell it with as much truth as possible. 

And if that means spending a year doing research and reading as much as possible, then I do it.

It's easier to rest from work, than to back track and explain laziness.  

*I*, me, Jennifer, cannot let my work out the door, after having been blessed by some truly amazing and gracious Navajo friends who helped me get this far in my research, only to have their ancestors become a fairy tale.

Tosca Lee said "fiction is the lie that tells the truth". That is the essence of a fiction writer's call.

But, I refuse to dilute the truth by adding un-needed, intentional lies to a story that aims to set straight a record of wrongs so heinous, it's almost unbelievable. 


  1. I noted but I don't see my note!

  2. I think I said something like...I wondered why you asked that question on face book. Now you know what you need to do.

    1. Yes. And I also let it be known I won't cut corners and make light of those who survived that nightmare.

  3. Maybe the author was worried about offending someone or a group. Maybe he was afraid of getting sued. It's a guess on my part.


    1. I think you're right. Because the references to this "tribe" were identical to the Six Nations Confederacy. But I still don't understand WHY not just use that people group???? It would've been way less offensive.

  4. Well, hold on.

    Nicholas Monsarrat's "The Tribe That Lost Its Head" concerned a fictional tribe on a fictional island off the west coast of Africa. It had to be fictional, because Monsarrat wanted to explore the reasons why phenomena like Mau Mau could occur, or why Africans could be persuaded to follow the like of Patrice Lumumba.

    Robert Ruark had aleady written "Something Of Value", specific to the Mau Mau and their roots in the Kikuyu, ten years previous. Monsarrat was writing on the other side of the harrowing events in the Congo and half a dozen other places, and wanted to show that there was a systemic evil, introduced from without, corroding the tribal structure, and to which the tribl structure was particularly sensitive.

    He couldn't do that with a straight history, involving one historical tribe. The issue was far broader.

    It's a worthwhile book, but a distressing read. Not quite as grim as "Something Of Value", but there are images contained therein that will not be forgotten for decades.

    Nor should they be.

    1. You and you smartness!

      I agree with you on all your points, but for me, and this culture, it's offensive to ME to fabricate something, when the real thing is right there, and perfectly able to represent themselves. One thing many Native American people loathe is "cultural misappropriation". Don't take from what they ARE and make up what you, or me, want them to be.