Monday, May 03, 2010

Gen will be giving away a hot-of-the-presses copy of Seneca Surrender to one lucky commenter so please join us.

Gen and I have been friends since we sold our first books back in the dark ages, or the early 90s as some people call it. Since then she's been penning wonderfully evocative Indian romance novels. She lives in the Los Angeles area with her adoring husband and a boatload of cats.

Please help me welcome Gen Bailey.

SENECA SURRENDER -- which just hit the bookshelves in April 2010 -- is a story about the Iroquois Confederacy, a people who have quite an unusual history. It's a book of revenge, of great love, but it's also a book of freedom, especially since the heroine, Sarah, is an indentured servant. Some may forget that America, along with having slaves, also "enslaved" their own people with a thing called indentured servitude. In this book, we get to explore not only the dynamics between the heroine and hero (who is on a mission of revenge), but we also get to take a look at the Iroquois way of thinking when it comes to servitude.

But let me tell you a little about the Iroquois Confederation, cause it's fascinating. Long ago (the Iroquois place the date at 1140AD), before the white man ever stepped foot on the North American continent, there was a Native American confederation that was established for the purpose of bringing peace to the land they called Turtle Island (the known world at that time), and to abolish war forever. That confederation was and still is called the Iroquois confederation or the League of the Five/Six Nations.

The confederation was composed of five--- and eventually six -- Nations who were related by custom, language and blood. These Nations were the Mohawk, the Oneida, the Onondagas, the Cayuga and the Seneca. In the early eighteenth century (sometimes around 1722) the Tuscaroras joined the confederation, making the league six instead of five nations.

What is called the Great Peace of the Iroquois came about because of two men, Deganawida and Hiawatha (the real Hiawatha, not the Hiawatha of Longfellow's poem). Each of these men had a vision of ending war and the fear associated with war, and bringing peace and unity to a people that would not only make the people strong, but would allow the people to live their lives in freedom.

The Council of the Great Peace was an extraordinary government, unparalleled in European culture. It made each man, woman and child free of government rule. and provided strong provisions to ensure that the chiefs remained responsible to the people. So strict and astute were these laws that if any chief began to serve his own needs, instead of those of the people, the offending chief was at once removed by the elder women of the tribe. That such men lived the rest of their lives in disgrace was evident.

Within the council a majority could not force the minority to their will. All had to agree before any law or action came into being, thus debate and oratory were highly valued. The Great Peace was a government truly of, by and for the people, and it influenced Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson. When it came time to set up our own government and constitution, Benjamin Franklin studied the Iroquois confederation in detail. This is a fact that I didn't learn in school, and in case you didn't either, I thought I would bring the information to your attention.

There truly was a spirit of freedom and independence that filled Native America long before the white man "discovered" America. This was so much the case, that it was unwittingly written into James Fenimore Cooper's books. In his prose, one can lay witness to a taste of this spirit. In fact, if one were to watch Michael Mann's most recent rendition of THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS (1992), and listen to our hero, Nathaniel, one can hear him state that he is not SUBJECT to much at all. Such was the attitude prevalent throughout Native America. It was a country of free men and free women, and no "subjects" were to be found.

It was this concept of freedom and independence that met and influenced the first European settlers. Indeed, the European people who came to the shores of America had not been indoctrinated in the idea of freedom of thought. Instead, the Europeans came to America to escape oppression, and a government that considered people little more than chattel; the right to have an individual thought was almost nonexistent. Instead the "Devine Right of Kings," where the King owned everything and everyone, ruled England and Europe.

Although the doctrines of Greece influenced our Founding Fathers, not even in Greece was the concept of equality and the idea of being beholden to none better embraced than in Native America. This was particularly so amongst the Iroquois, who gave our founding country so much.

The roots of freedom as we here in America have come to know it, grow deep in Native America.

In 1774, Iroquois Chief Canassatego issued some advice to the newly forming country of America. It was at a meeting in Lancaster that he said, "Our wise forefathers established Union and Amity between the Five Nations. This has made us formidable. This has given us great weight and authority with our neighboring nations. We are a powerful Confederacy; and by your observing the same methods our wise forefathers have taken, you will acquire such Strength and Power. Therefore whatever befalls you, never fall out with one another."

I hope you've enjoyed this brief look into our American past. But one more thing before I end this blog for today. In Britain in 1776, it was said, "The daring passion of the American is liberty and that in its fullest extent; nor is it the original natives only to whom this passion is confined: our colonists sent thither seem to have imbibed the same principles."

I'd love to open up the discussion today as to what is your concept of freedom? Are we as free today as we were, say in 1834? 1850's? 1900? Come on in and let's chat. And don't forget to order or pick up your copy today of SENECA SURRENDER.


lois greiman said...

Hey Kay, thanks for joining us... and making us think. Sometimes I worry that we're getting too lazy...that our lives are so cushy we don't feel the need to protect our freedoms or fight injustices, political and otherwise.

That said...great cover. Can't wait to pick up the book.

Virginia C said...

Hi, Gen! Thank you for a thoughtful post reminding us to stop and think about why we are "free" here in America. Europeans who crossed the sea to North America to escape oppression repeated the sins of their fathers and trampled on the human rights of the Native Americans. The preeminent ownership of the land by the Native Americans was ignored. Deeply shameful! The horror of African slavery is another vivid scar on the face of America. Since the begining of the human race, mankind has been in an eternal struggle for power and control. To the victor his spoils! Can we ever move beyond the urge to dominate?

I live in a very small town, and I have a "small" lifestyle. I like it that way. I am free to enjoy my simple pleasures, and I do enjoy them very much. However, I am always aware that my freedom comes with a price. Those who serve in our armed forces are the reason that I am here at my computer, drinking coffee, and unafraid to walk out my door in a moment to collect my mail. I am immeasurably grateful to our armed forces and their families for their many sacrifices to keep our country free.

This is a very beautiful prayer, one that puts into words some of my own feelings of life, death, and freedom.

Native American Prayer

Oh, Great Spirit
Whose voice I hear in the winds,
And whose breath gives life to all the world,
hear me, I am small and weak,
I need your strength and wisdom.
Let me walk in beauty and make my eyes ever behold
the red and purple sunset.
Make my hands respect the things you have
made and my ears sharp to hear your voice.
Make me wise so that I may understand the things
you have taught my people.
Let me learn the lessons you have
hidden in every leaf and rock.

I seek strength, not to be greater than my brother,
but to fight my greatest enemy – myself.
Make me always ready to come to you
with clean hands and straight eyes.
So when life fades, as the fading sunset,
my Spirit may come to you without shame.

(translated by Lakota Sioux Chief Yellow Lark in 1887)
published in Native American Prayers – by the Episcopal Church.

gcwhiskas at aol dot com

kmt1976 said...

Our history books don't give this information to our students. When I was teaching 5th grade (back in the dark ages) I told my students that the Indians (as they were called then) were not all wrong and the soldiers were not always right. The next day there was a knock at my classroom door. It was the president of the John Birch Society with a large bag of books for me to read - "to help me better understand our country's history"

carolanndidier said...

Hi Kay, As always you inform as well as entertain with your stories. Our American heritage has always been interesting to me, especially our westward expansion, especially the southwest as my novels indicate, but I love learning about all the Native American tribes and you always include those little pieces of history not found in the school room. We certainly did not treat them right, and they were the first real Ameriancs. Thanks so much. Carol Ann

Kathleen Eagle said...

Hi Gen/Karen! Welcome back. My family--and it's a BIG one--appreciates the depth of your research and your empathy.

Sadly, most Americans still know very little about the rich traditions and cultures that flourish in this hemisphere before Europeans landed here and started claiming everything in sight. It's such a shame because our non-Indian (in Indian Country, you're either Indian or non-Indian) ancestors could have learned so much. The good news is, we still can, if only we'll pause in our preaching and open our eyes and ears.

Not that I don't love my soapbox, mind you. I came into this world a talker, and no doubt I'll go out that way. But, oh, the different my sojourn in Indian Country had made in my "world view." Thank you, Eagles!

Karen Kay/Gen Bailey said...

Good Morning, Lois!

I'm on the West Coast and so I may seem a little late getting onto the blog this morning, but it's still early here. :)

Thanks so much for your comments. Yes, it does seem as if this book has a bit of a serious note -- but then again, it is romance and so there is much about it that isn't serious.

Thanks so much for having me here today.

Karen Kay/Gen Bailey said...

Hi Virginia!

Gee, it's great to see you here on the blog today. That said, that is one of the most beautiful prayers I've read.

And like you, I appreciate each and every service man/woman who is out there putting everything on the line to help keep our freedoms.

Thank you for adding such beauty to the blog today. :)

Karen Kay/Gen Bailey said...

Hi kmt1976!

Goodness! What an interesting thing to have happen, and over such a small comment (and true comment).

What's interesting from my viewpoint is that one isn't ALWAYS in the right. To be able to look back on our actions and evaluate them for ourselves as to whether they helped another or hindered is a part of simply being human, I would think. A natural part of who we are.

I always thought the John Birch society championed freedom. Thanks so much for your comment. (I'd never learned this history either, which is why I find it so fascinating.)

Karen Kay/Gen Bailey said...

Hello Carol Ann!

Nice to see you here on the blog today, also. : )

I know you, too, appreciate this history, since you, yourself, are a successful author of American Indian romance.

Thank you for your kind thought.s

Karen Kay/Gen Bailey said...

Good Morning, Kathleen!

Hi! Thanks so much for your insightful post. Also, I wanted to let you know that I enjoyed your Silhouette Desire -- please forgive me -- I'm bad with titles -- it was a Cowboy Christmas book -- I loved that story.

Like you, I think if we could step back and take a good look, things might be a little different. : )

Karen Kay/Gen Bailey said...

I forgot to mention in my post -- and so I'll do it now -- that I'll be giving away a free copy of my newest release, SENECA SURRENDER, to one of the bloggers today.

So do come on in and leave a post. : )

Cindy Gerard said...

Hi Gen and wow. thanks for the great history lesson.

Victoria Bylin said...

Hi Gen! The best history class I took at UCLA was on the Iroquois. It convinced me to change my major from English to History. Your books are a wonderful blend of what I love most:)

KylieBrant said...

Gen, what an interesting and thought-provoking post! I love the research involved with my books, too!

Karen Kay/Gen Bailey said...

Hi Cindy!

Thanks! So nice to see you today. : )

Karen Kay/Gen Bailey said...

Good Morning, Vicki!

Thanks so much for coming to the blog today. I didn't know you went to UCLA. My daughter also went to UCLA. Isn't that interesting that it was the Iroquois that influenced you to change your major.

They have now influenced me greatly, also. :)

Karen Kay/Gen Bailey said...

Hi Kylie!

It's true, isn't it? At first, research always put me off. And then, it became like the cherry on top of the cake. : )

Patricia Potter said...

Great post. I'm a lover of all things Americana and believe that this particular period of our history has been sorely neglected in romance. Thanks for reminding us all of this rich history.

runner10 said...

I'm proud to live in a country where I am free to do or say anything I want.
I would love to read your book. It sounds great.

Karen Kay/Gen Bailey said...

Hi Patricia and thank you. : ) Thanks also for coming here today. : )

Karen Kay/Gen Bailey said...

Hi Runner 10!

I couldn't agree with you more. And thanks for your comment on the book. Yes, we'll be holding that drawing a little later -- probably tonight. : )

Tanya Hanson said...

hi Kay~ I gotta take a minute from my busy day touring San Antonio (my first time in Texas --yeehaw)to pop in. As you know, I have developed a great interest in, and admiration for, the well as the Nez Perce...from my days teaching American Lit. I can't wait to delve into Seneca Surrender.

Tanya Hanson said...

(I see I spelled Iroquois wrong up above, duh. Typo!

Sharon said...

I am glad I stopped by the blog today as I love reading all that you write about the Native Americans and I know that you do alot of research in writing a book that gives the reader an insight to the Native American lifestyle. I have just finished the latest book and I always think each book is great and even better than the one before it but Senna Surrender far exceeds all the books so far and I know the next one will be just as good if not better...

Helen Brenna said...

Dropping in late here, but hi Gen/Karen and welcome!

Wish I knew more about Native American history, but it all seems so overwhelming to me given the many different tribes. Fascinating, though. No doubt about that.

I'd say, as a woman, I enjoy much more freedom today than women of the past. Heck, I have a microwave AND a washer and dryer!! LOL

Virginia said...

Hi Gen, great post! For some reason I don't think we are as free today as in the past! Women may have more freedom but still our goverment still tell us what we can and can't do. Insureance companies tell us what doctors we can see and what medicines we can take because they only cover certain doctors and meds. This just names a few things, there are others! Even the town I live in stop cigaretta smoking but brought in alcahol! Also you can't buy a playboy mag or an erotic book in this town, it has been outlawed. So they are telling me what I can read!


Linda Henderson said...

I enjoy reading books with Indian characters. My paternal grandmother was Cherokee, not full blooded, but at least half I think. I have read a few books on the plight of the Indians and I could still cry when reading Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee. Also Creek Mary's Blood is a good one to read, the author's last name is Brown I believe. It's been a while since I read it, but I really enjoyed the story. Sometimes freedom can mean just the right to BE. If we lived in China, I would never have been born. I know I deeply appreciate every right and privilege that we enjoy. I will look forward to reading your book.

Karen Kay/Gen Bailey said...

Hi Tanya!

It's true. I've seen your love of these people and their history, too. : ) Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by today, Tanya. : )

Karen Kay/Gen Bailey said...

Hi Sharon!

I'm almost speechless with your praise. Thank you. And thanks for picking up the book and staying with me and supporting my work all these years. : ) Your words go right to my heart.

Karen Kay/Gen Bailey said...

Hi Helen!

Beautiful picture, by the way. It's true that we certainly have more gadgets and that sort of thing -- internet, etc. But I'm not so sure that this alone means more freedom -- I can see your point though.

One thing to consider is that the Iroquois (as most Indian tribes were) matriarical (can't spell it) -- meaning they trace their line through the female, not the male. And the women had a role in everything. Indeed, it was the women of the tribes that held the power of the tribe (this is still very, very true in the Navajo tribe). Men couldn't go to war without the approval of the elder women. It was thought that the women were the heart of the tribe and that a woman was not so quick to go to war. She would think it through.

In truth, I think those women in those days -- the American Indian women -- had more influence and power than we do today -- but then, we've had to fight a society that is male dominated, also -- an uphill battle.

Geez, I'm being long winded here -- so I guess the long and short of it is that I think we have more freedom than our grandmothers -- but not perhaps our American Indian grandmothers.

I've always found it interesting also that the non-Indians painted the Indian women as slaves. Nothing could have been further from the truth in most of the Indian societies. (Not all, mind you -- but most.)

Karen Kay/Gen Bailey said...

Wow, Virginia, these are really good points. When someone else can tell you what you can and can't do with your own body -- what you can and can't put into your own body -- well, isn't the definition of a slave one whose body and labor is owned by another?

Kinda scary. I didn't realize all these things were happening. I don't have insurance. I don't smoke and there are so many bookstores here in southern California, it's hard to count them all.

But I grew up in a small town and I remember now. Thanks for bringing up these points.

Karen Kay/Gen Bailey said...

Hi Linda!

You bring up more very good points. Isn't the name of that author Dee Brown? I think so. I've read his or is it a her -- books. I couldn't read all of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee -- it was so unjust -- the whole thing had so many lies -- so much bully-ism (I know that's not a real word) that after a while, I couldn't take it any more.

China. Well China has never had a tradition of freedom. Not in all its dynasties (you're really seeing my bad spelling) or any of its governments. They've had a tradition of herbal remedies and magic. But now under the Red Chinese, you're right -- they often don't allow the female babies to live, since they are often permitted only one child, and they favor the boys. We won't go into what they do to these babies that they don't want here on this forum though. I find it hard enough to even conceive of what is done, let alone talk about it.

Deep breath.

Thanks so much for your thoughts, Linda. : )

Anonymous said...

a fabulous posting...i learned a lot :)

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Karen Kay/Gen Bailey said...

Hi Kmkuka!

Thanks so much! : )

Karen Kay/Gen Bailey said...

WE HAVE A WINNER -- actually we have 2 winners.

Sometimes we pick two names at the same time. Just so you know we draw the names, so it really is entirely chance.

The winners are Tanya & Sharon. Now I'll need you both to contact me personally at karenkay(dot)author(at)earthlink(dot)net. : )