Why Lakota Dreams?

The fabulous artisit who is designing the cover for my novel, Lakota   Dreams, asked me why I’d written such a long story (it ‘s about twice the length of any of my three detective novels.)  Unprepared for such a question, I just told him I’d always had an interest in Native Americans, and that I’d developed a passion for the Black Hills of South Dakota.  But then I gave it more thought. 

Yes I’m interested in Native American lore, and I’ve had conflicting thoughts about what happened to the American Indians.  For years they’ve been portayed in conflicting manners by Hollywood and others.  On the one hand they depicted as ignorant, theiving, pagan savages, and on the other as people of integrity, spirituality and an uncommon connection to and respect for Mother Earth.  When I play devil’s advocate, I can objectively posit that the Native Americans never demonstrated an ability to create a lasting civilization…never building a permanent town, enaging in effective commerce, exploring new worlds, developing a real country. When compared to Europeans for instance, who constructed beautiful cities, explored the world, built armies, and generally were socially much more organized, our American Indians  seemed to be much less ambitious, and therefore susceptable to being vanquished and/or conquered.  But just because American Indians were no match for “more developed ” civilizations, doesn’t make it right that they were evicted from their lands and subjected to a future life on reservations that were shamefully made their prison. 

Lakota Dreams is a story that suggests that the way of life of our Native Americans was worth perserving, even though in the 1870s it was already considered a very backward way of life.   The protagonist in the novel, Nate Henderson, a young white man, was willing to live that way of life.    That’s part of why I wrote the novel, to suggest that the Native American way of life was acceptable to those who understood it.  That living simply, without all the modern conveniences, does not necessarily require sacrificing a more happy or more meaningful life.

Another reason for the novel is to share the feelings I have about the Black Hills of South Dakota.   And to tell a story about the pursuit of dreams, however unlikley it may be that they can be achieved.  I think of the movie Field of Dreams and the character, Moonlight Graham, who never got a chance to go to bat in a big league game.  When he finally did (after he’d been dead for years) on the field of dreams, he hit a fly ball to right field that was caught.  No matter.  He finally got a chance to pursue a dream.

Combining these elements into one story required many pages.  Plus there were many “scenes” I felt needed to be included to add to the excitement.  So Lakota Dreams is long, but frankly, I could have kept writing because it was fun for me to place myself emotionally into the story.  It was actualy difficult to bring the story to an end.


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