First, let's establish that I am a 51 year old white woman from Canada.
Other than that year of college in 1981, I have lived in freedom my entire life.
No one has set out to capture me because I have red hair and freckles.
No one will take my children away to make them less like me.
No one considers me less than human.
So, why write about the Navajo?
What gives me the right?
Canyon de Chelly, author's photo
Some say that only those of a certain culture have the right to write the history of that culture.
Or, at least should be first in line.
But in fiction, there's a slight problem.
That leaves 17th century pirates, 25th century space explorers, anyone, anywhere who finds employment as a zombie, 12th century barons, 11th century ladies masquarading as boys, talking vegetables, Hobbits, Elves, wizards, talking lions...
Need I go on?
Actually, let me vent some historical steam...
Yes, history is written by the victors.
North and South America were not devoid of people prior to the arrival of the Spanish, Portuguese, French and English.
Nor were any of these people lacking in vibrant culture, history, education or loving families.
Education does not depend on the existance of a written language.
History is not made valid by the presence of European involvement.
Culture does not mean teacups and lace.
Loving families do not pre-date those who can write about them.
The sky of 21st century Arizona is the same as the sky of 15th century Arizona.
What that 15th century sky didn't have was the smoke of Spaniard's fires as they trekked across the desert, looking for land, slaves and gold.
Jesus did not come to Earth to seek and save the wealth of those who had it, but to seek and save the lost.
Jesus did not send people to condemn and conquer those with dark skin as slaves, but there were a whole lot of people who used His name ot justify their actions.
And when those people came, much was done to make those who lived here first into"good Christians".
I wonder, quite often, if the Anglos had lost in their campaigns to "make the world England"?
Or Spain? Or France?
If they'd lost, and the "hosts" won, what would be said now of those who made our non-victorious ancestors into "good Hurons" or "good Kiowas"?
How would we feel, if we were told, on a daily basis, "to just get over it"?
Bad attitudes are things to "get over".
500 years of being told that one's entire culture is made up of savages who should be wiped from the Earth, the pages of history, but maybe if you cut your hair and recite a Bible verse here and there, we won't hate you...
That, my friends, is beyond what one should have to "get over".
So, back to what gives me the right?
Would it matter if I wrote whatever I wanted about faeries, cats or spaceships?
But the Navajo matter.
And if I tell their story with my words, I am a storyteller bringing light to the shadows.
But if I add glamour to what happened, or take away the truth from what did ?
I would be a thief and a liar.