Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tuesday AND Wednesday: History and Research

First, let me apologize for the delay in this post. I'd like to say I had some great reason but...really, I got home from work and fell asleep for like 3 hours. That tends to put a real kink in the schedule.

Second, because of the breadth and scope of the subject, this post is covering Tuesday and Wednesday, since as the title indicates, the topic for the two days is history and research and, quite frankly, you can't really separate the two.

It's mentioned briefly in New Moon Rising that Cari has Cherokee ancestry. Despite her mostly Anglo appearance, this really isn't that uncommon. I should know--I have not only Cherokee blood, but also Seminole and Blackfoot, and when my hair is blonde I look like "the Aryan poster child". (Yes, I was slightly offended when told that as well, but I get the point behind the statement.) There are a lot of family lines, especially in the Florida/Georgia area, that can lay claim to a Native American ancestor.

A good portion of Harvest Moon Rising involves Cari discovering and coming to grips with her Cherokee ancestry. While most of this will be in the realm of healing and mysticism, not addressing their history, especially their struggles in the 1800s, would do them a disservice.

Like most Native American tribes, the Cherokee suffered losses through disease, war and displacement by colonization. At the time of the beginning of the removal efforts, the Cherokee were actually making, for lack of a better term, a comeback. They were modernizing, adapting, and in general doing their best to make peace with white society.

In an effort to establish their position as a sovereign nation, in much the same way that states are recognized and accepted as sovereign nations, the Cherokee brought suit against the state of Georgia. The Supreme Court ruled that the Cherokee Nation was entitled to protection against state actions in 1832, reversing their previous decision that the Nation was not a sovereign nation, and thereby was not eligible for protection against state interference and actions. If you think this is confusing, well, keep in mind the three major cases in race relations--Dred Scott, Plessy v Ferguson, and Brown v Board of Education--were all decided within roughly a hundred years and cover a much broader range of opinion. The Supreme Court is notorious for changing their mind a hundred times.

Andrew Jackson's comments about Marshall enforcing his decision--oh, Andrew Jackson--are infamous, despite the fact that the actual removal of the Cherokee Nation was carried out not under Jackson but under his successor, Van Buren--who nobody really liked anyway. The Cherokee were forcibly removed from their homes in Georgia in 1838, being allowed to take little, if any, possessions. The resulting march to their new territory in Oklahoma saw the deaths of 4,000 people--almost a quarter of the population--and earned the moniker Trail of Tears.

How to incorporate this without going overly preachy in a fiction work is difficult. Also difficult is how to establish a viable history of Cherokee influence in the Georgia werewolf culture. How this is accomplished?


Research brought me to the information that a number of Irish settled into Georgia after their disembarkment in America. Further research brought to light the tendency of the Irish--and other Europeans such as the French, Spanish, etc--to marry Native Americans. Given this, and the prevalence of werewolf type myths and legends in both cultures, the possibility of settlements or enclaves being developed specifically to hide this intermarried group is not only highly possible but highly probable.

In short--history does not detract from fiction--but lends credence to the idea of it.

Yeah--I love me some history.

Next week, we'll go back to two separate posts and Thursday we'll have some randomness. Until then....

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