Moon of the Snowblind by Gary Kelley is a graphic novel that tells the story of the Spirit Lake Massacre of 1857. Although I had never read a graphic novel, I was impressed with the creativity of author and historian Gary Kelley.
American geographer, geologist, and ethnologist Henry Rowe Schoolcraft is generally regarded as the man who found and identified the source of the Mississippi River in 1832. But this interpretation, which has been perpetuated throughout American history, fails on two levels—it does not recognize people who had already found the source of the Mississippi, nor does it acknowledge the contributions of Ozaawindib, the Ojibwe guide who led Schoolcraft to the river’s origin.
Speaking through an interpreter, Standing Bear stood before the judge and said, “That hand is not the color of yours, but if I pierce it, I shall feel pain. If you pierce your hand, you also feel pain. The blood that will flow from mine will be the same color as yours. I am a man. God made us both.”
There’s a subtly to Thomas’ life and actions that portray him not as a hero, but as a man. The same can be said for each character in this novel. They are not heroic figures or caricatures that exist to prove a point or embellish an important historical moment. They are deeply human and therefore profoundly real.
Despite their promise to protect the Ponca in possession of their lands, the U.S. mistakenly gave away the Ponca reservation by placing it within The Great Sioux Reservation created by the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie. Because of this mistake, conflict arose between the Ponca and the Sioux/Lakota, who claimed a legal right to the Ponca land. As a result, the U.S. had to find a way to remove the Ponca from their homelands.
Years before Sibley rose to political prominence in the region, he married a Franco-Dakota woman named Tahshinaohindoway, known as Red Blanket Woman. Tahshinaohindoway was the daughter of Wasuwicaxtaxni (Bad Hail), a well-known Dakota spokesman during the treaty negotiations of 1837 and 1851. The two were together on a hunt in the winter of 1839–40 when they married in a style known as a la facon du pays, or, country style.
Recently, I came across Our Ohio Story, a web serial by Kate McCord that tells an American story through a patchwork of sequential chapters, character sketches, and cultural reflections. It’s so engaging. It’s a wonderful way to use fiction to teach and get people really thinking about history.
Recently, I finished a full revision of my current writing project—a full-length, alternative history novel (103,263 words to be exact). When published it will be my fifth novel. Each one, as any author could tell you, has been a tremendous challenge that has required years of patient hard work.
Separated by the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers, the states of Minnesota and Wisconsin have a well-established, recognizable boundary. But the borders of each state, and the boundary that separates them, was not always certain.
In her book Appropriate, Paisley Rekdal shows us that we must confront cultural appropriation, not as a moral judge or caretaker, but as an open-minded participant both in the world we live in and the one we are striving to achieve.