I was wandering through old blog posts and found the very first one I ever wrote. It was when I was just beginning to write Washaka–The Bear Dreamer. I can’t resist posting it again here.
July 4, 2005
It is Independence Day in the US of A, and I have never written a blog post before. I don’t want to tell you what I ate for breakfast or bore you with my gardening feats, so I will just share a few recent experiences and tell you what I’m currently working on (besides this website).
The other night Milt and I went to the Heritage Festival, an annual artsy event here in the Black Hills. We had just donated blood and convinced the blood people we were high school students and deserved a T-shirt. The T-shirts had an American flag, Mount Rushmore, and the words “I Donated Blood” on them. We thought we’d give a boost to the United Blood Services and wear our shirts to the festival.
Not for a minute did we expect the responses we got to our “patriotic” tees. It was like we had entered a club neither of us had ever been in. People, mostly men, came and gave us high fives, said “right on, man” and punched their thumbs in the air at us. Now, as everybody knows, South Dakota is a red state. Milt and I, however, do not support this war, Bush, or the republican agenda. We were shattered that our state would throw out a man like Tom Dashle.
So, there you are. Welcome to a walk on the red side.
Now, for a completely different story, this one about the red road and the book I am writing. Some writers feel it is bad luck to talk about a current writing project but I have other superstitions–besides, I won’t tell you about the book–just how I came to be writing it.
Last winter I was at a crossroads in my current writing projects and was sitting in a local coffee shop writing about what I should write about next. Those of you who write will understand this odd statement. So, I was casting about for a new project, something to grab my interest when an Indian man came and stood in front of me. When you write in restaurants, casinos, and coffee shops, people always want to know what you are doing. So I was friendly and did my normal thing of seeing him without looking at him. He asked me if I was a writer. I said yes. He asked me if he could sit a minute and tell me about a story he had in his mind.
Again, this has happened before. There are lots of people who want you to write their exciting lives, or relatives’ lives, but I was feeling friendly and curious and so invited him to sit down. Forty five minutes later, I had agreed to give his story a shot.
His name is Leon Hale and he is from around here. He is (really) a direct descendent from both Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull. Leon is tall, lanky, nice looking, an older man who likes plaid shirts and has arthritis in his hands. I could tell from just a few minutes conversation that the man had heart. Generally, that is a first criteria for me. For many years Leon has had this recurring dream and the dream is really the story of the unusual friendship between a young Lakota boy and a white boy. The Lakota boy has a dream in which he sees a white grizzly bear tied up, its neck bleeding from the rope. The boy knows he is supposed to rescue the bear but he doesn’t. Not yet.
After we talked that night in the coffee shop, Leon came over to my house over the next several months and we recorded his story. He says each time he dreams the story it is as if he is really there in the 1800’s and when he awakens, he is reluctant to return to this century. During our recording sessions, I stretched out on my couch and zoned out completely. As I am listening through the tapes again to write the story, I am amazed at how far away I must have drifted. I remember little of it until I hear it again.
And that is my new project. A story about two boys who become young men together. One is named Little Chief, and one is named White Bear or Mato Ska.
Thus ends my first blogging session. I have no idea who will ever read it but I had fun writing it.
Have a nice fourth.
Jamie LeeShare on Facebook