Monday, September 1, 2014

What Tribe are You From?

A Native Chief with a weathered face sat down at my table and began to tell me his story of separation from his family, abuse from others, and the events that shaped his life, at the 54th Tecumseh Lodge Pow Wow yesterday. I was signing my two newest books with American Indian themes, Smoke from Distant Fires and Hiawassee – Child of the Meadow. The lines that were etched in his face traced his story. It was his tale to be told, not mine.

“What tribe are you from?” another Native American asked when he came up to my table.

“I’m not from a tribe,” I said and explained my books and their connection to the Shawnee and Cherokee tribes.

“Yes, you are,” he said confidently. “You’re a Miami.”

“No,” I said, slowly thinking. “We’ve traced many branches of my family tree and have found no Native Americans there.”

“I can tell by the width of your temples and the color of your eyes . . . you’re Miami,” he said again.

“Cool,” I responded. New genealogical discoveries are so much fun!

Then, like other writers, I began to think of the stories I could tell while I searched my ancestry. I have already researched back many generations and found those characters that sit on my branches just like you have. Now, I have an entirely different path to follow. I will track the steps of possible First People whose traits I may still display.

What stories are in your family’s past? If you search, you will never have writer’s block. You will have new/old material to inspire your writing for the rest of your life. What tribe are you from?

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