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chartruscan
03-30-2012, 05:52 AM
I have this minor character, I decided he'd be Indian based on how close the town is to the Cheyene River Indian Reservation. This is not a native American story. It's more of a rancher meets spy story. But there's this guy. At first he's quiet and unobtrusive. He's a ranch hand. There's an escaped horse that he's leary of. There are hints of the supernatural regarding the horse, but in the "there's a logical explination for this" way, with leeway for magic to be happening.

This dude interacts with the ranchers, and with a PTSD former soldier, and deals with another major characters issues with fatality/free will.

So I guess I'm looking into insight regarding possibilities for why this guy left the reservation and started working at a cattle ranch, and what he might have to offer to a man with PTSD and the man with freewill/fatalistic ideations. On top of being his own person without falling into Native American tropes or even anti-tropes (although the more I read, the more the anti-tropes seem to be reality!).

RemusShepherd
03-30-2012, 06:03 PM
So I guess I'm looking into insight regarding possibilities for why this guy left the reservation and started working at a cattle ranch, and what he might have to offer to a man with PTSD and the man with freewill/fatalistic ideations. On top of being his own person without falling into Native American tropes or even anti-tropes (although the more I read, the more the anti-tropes seem to be reality!).

I don't think you need much of a reason for him to leave the reservation. The Lakotan reservations suck. There is widespread poverty and few opportunities. They don't even have running water in Cheyenne. By leaving the reservation this character is just acting in his own self interest.

What he has to offer the soldier depends on what the soldier needs. It might be nothing more than a patient attitude and a willingness to listen.

Wicked
03-30-2012, 08:04 PM
I grew up across the river from a small village on the reservation. Many of the young people moved to town to escape poverty.

It wouldn't be at all unusual for the young men to work for a rancher. One of the boys from the village used to break horses for us.

Are you looking for personality types?

One of the older boys was in high school when I started going to town for Jr. High. He recognized me when I got on the bus and said, "Hey, aren't you that Markitan girl?". I don't know if he was just being polite, or friendly, because I never saw him smile. He could fit a little too easily into the stoic stereo type.
Though the few times I saw him at school, he would tip his hat, and say, "Hey, Markitan". He always called me by my last name.

And then there was Willie, who was the polar opposite. I was a teacher's class helper/aide, and if the teacher wasn't in the room, Willie would come in, kick back his chair, cross his feet up on the table, and grin at me while he slid his cowboy hat back.
And it didn't matter how many times I told him to put his feet down, I'd have to come and push them off the table.

If he saw me on my way to class, he would run up beside me and say hello.
If I saw him in the hall on my free hour, I would say, "Willie, aren't you supposed to be in class?". He'd grin, say, "Yes, Ma'am", then pretend to run to his locker. Which was probably in the opposite direction.
Always with the grin, always a flirt.

They both were in rodeo. I don't remember seeing either of them without the straw hat with a feather in the band. I think that was a rodeo thing though, because most of the rodeo club had the exact same style.

Sometimes Willie would pick at me, and I'd tease him about the "chicken feather" in his hat. He was about as easy going as they come. I once asked how he kept that thing in his band when he was riding.
He leaned back, tipped the hat, grinned, and said, "If I lose it, I just get another one."

He was lots of fun to hang out with, even if he seemed to live for the chance to drive me crazy.

kuwisdelu
03-31-2012, 05:36 AM
There aren't many jobs on the rez. Even if he still lived there, it wouldn't be uncommon to have a job in a nearby town.

Beyond that, I'm not sure what the culture of the Lakota in that area is like.

What he'd have to offer the soldier and other guy? I don't know... The same things as anyone else who grew up like that?

chartruscan
03-31-2012, 06:46 AM
Yeah, my brief research pointed towards life on the reservation not being awesome and highly fleeable.

Right now he's quiet and supportive in a silent, background kind of way. Possibly stealth sarcastic. I stumbled across a thread here that mentioned how American Indians dealt with their own PTSD, which led me to a bit of research, but I couldn't find anything specific for Lakotans. Interesting generalities about not cutting oneself off from the past (which was intriguing since one of the things the PTSD dude has issues with is fugue states, where triggers make him disassociate with who and where he is).

The thing that kept coming up was sweat lodges, cleansing rituals to rid the body of toxins and other bad stuff, and veterans using this method to rid their bodies of that negative weight. That's great. But would any old guy off a reservation be able to facilitate that, or would he need to take the guy to a healer on the reservation, or would it be feasable for him to construct his own sweat lodge and perform some rudimentary ceremony that the white guy wouldn't know wasn't authentic or valid in a traditional sense, but still ultimately helpful?

I'm also interested in how a mindset that is born out of a culture where there is generations-long PTSD interact with a guy whose fatalistic mindset, a guy who is able to automatically accept the bad shit in his past and still function, would interact and possibly have conflict on a philosophical level. A "it happened, it sucked, it was meant to be and here I am and this is where I am supposed to be and that was meant to happen so I could be here and there was nothing I could do to change it, what's next?" mindset.

kuwisdelu
03-31-2012, 07:17 AM
Yeah, my brief research pointed towards life on the reservation not being awesome and highly fleeable.

Not awesome, but I wouldn't say "highly fleeable." I'm not sure what the Cheyenne River rez is like, but just because you want to get out doesn't mean that you can or will.


Right now he's quiet and supportive in a silent, background kind of way. Possibly stealth sarcastic. I stumbled across a thread here that mentioned how American Indians dealt with their own PTSD, which led me to a bit of research, but I couldn't find anything specific for Lakotans.

Actual PTSD like Indians who were in the army or do you mean general historical and cultural scars?


Interesting generalities about not cutting oneself off from the past (which was intriguing since one of the things the PTSD dude has issues with is fugue states, where triggers make him disassociate with who and where he is).

...because while we have a lot of cultural scars from our past, that's really not quite like the kind of PTSD a soldier would have.


The thing that kept coming up was sweat lodges, cleansing rituals to rid the body of toxins and other bad stuff, and veterans using this method to rid their bodies of that negative weight. That's great. But would any old guy off a reservation be able to facilitate that, or would he need to take the guy to a healer on the reservation, or would it be feasable for him to construct his own sweat lodge and perform some rudimentary ceremony that the white guy wouldn't know wasn't authentic or valid in a traditional sense, but still ultimately helpful?

Was this specific to the Lakotas? I know nothing about sweat lodges.

I really doubt it's the kind of thing just any Indian from that rez could do. For any of our purification stuff, it's definitely the kind of thing you'd need special training or knowledge for.


I'm also interested in how a mindset that is born out of a culture where there is generations-long PTSD interact with a guy whose fatalistic mindset, a guy who is able to automatically accept the bad shit in his past and still function, would interact and possibly have conflict on a philosophical level. A "it happened, it sucked, it was meant to be and here I am and this is where I am supposed to be and that was meant to happen so I could be here and there was nothing I could do to change it, what's next?" mindset.

I know it's probably not what you want to hear, but it really just depends on the character.

And to me, there's a big difference between my own personal past, and my Indian past. For the former, my own mindset isn't so terribly different from your guy's. I accept the bad things and move on. But that's me, that's my individual past and my personal choices. My Indian past? That's not just me. That's something I share with many, many people. That's not an "it happened, it sucked" event. That's our history, and a part of our memory. I can't apply my mindset for my own life to the lives of my ancestors. It doesn't work that way.

backslashbaby
03-31-2012, 09:50 AM
I'm sensing you might think he'd be particularly philosophical because he's Lakota? Of course, your character could be. Lots of personalities lean that way. If you are thinking 'Indian wisdom,' it's not that all-encompassing. I haven't found Native Americans to be more philosophical overall than other folks. Many topics are seen differently, and that may include a philosophical component, but it's not like folks wax poetic all the time ;)

If anything, in my experience, Indians don't give their personal thoughts as easily as other cultures (big generalization, you understand). A lot of what's understood is just kind of understood, so there is less chit-chat about it all :) Facial expressions and small gestures probably are used more often (or at least in the southeast and deep south).

If you are looking for specific Lakota rituals or philosophies that could aid the other characters, that's kind of a different question. Depending on the group, you won't hear about the rituals, though. You could probably find out whether they are allowed to do their own sweat lodges. Some Indians can, and in other local tribes it would be sort of like putting on your own Mass (not quite that bad, but you get the idea!). It depends on what the sweat ceremonies are done for. Think of the various flavors of Christian churches in the US, and that's a bit like what you are talking about with any element that may be very religious to one group (and just custom to another) :)

chartruscan
04-01-2012, 08:12 PM
I'm sensing you might think he'd be particularly philosophical because he's Lakota?

Not at all. If I mentioned philosophies, I meant it merely in the sense that there are two or more characters who look at the world differently. I envision the Lakotan character expressing what ever he sees laconincally, and maybe dryly or sarcastically.


Of course, your character could be. Lots of personalities lean that way. If you are thinking 'Indian wisdom,' it's not that all-encompassing. I haven't found Native Americans to be more philosophical overall than other folks. Many topics are seen differently, and that may include a philosophical component, but it's not like folks wax poetic all the time ;)

If anything, in my experience, Indians don't give their personal thoughts as easily as other cultures (big generalization, you understand). A lot of what's understood is just kind of understood, so there is less chit-chat about it all :) Facial expressions and small gestures probably are used more often (or at least in the southeast and deep south).

This sounds good to me. I really am sticking my neck out here sounding like a dumb white person because I want to make sure that when I write I don't sound like a dumb white person :) And the guy he'd be interacting with isn't big on talking (about his feelings, or having "moments").

I'm not looking for some Indian spiritual fix for this other guy. The reason for even including the guy is that I looked at a map, saw that the Cheyenne Reservation was close, and thought, hey, let's not have the story populated by all white guys. And then I was left with a minor character I knew nothing about. And now I'm trying to see how he could connect personally with the MC. Or just write him as a I would a white dude who is a minor character.

I thought the question about rituals/ceremonies was kind of a stupid quesiton, because it feels too much "hey! Dude's Indian, let's have a sweat lodge!", and I'd personally rather not, after posting I cringed and thought that would be the most obvious trope to fall into. Next thing I know there'll be visions of wolves or something.

I do have a supernatural element, but it's not related to Native Americans, it's just there. I haven't quite figured out what to do with it. It's an escaped white horse of a rancher's dead wife, and the horse facilitates events in the story and then disappears. And it felt weird to then just find the horse and put it back in the barn, so I decided to leave it roaming the prairies like a ghost.

So my latest stupid question is: would a Lakota look at this horse with suspicion or think anything other than "annoying escaped horse"?

backslashbaby
04-02-2012, 02:34 AM
Oh, that all sounds very cool!

The Lakota dude would probably have quite a few thoughts about it, unless he's chosen a different way of seeing things, or it could be a combination. Unfortunately, what he might be thinking involves an area of their spirituality that they don't like to explain to outsiders, generally speaking.

You could try to find a source to help you still, because folks vary on how they feel about all that. But in my experience, anything involving the dead or spirits is not something readily spoken about 'lightly' by that tribe.

backslashbaby
04-02-2012, 03:14 AM
I was thinking... is there any way you could play it pretty realistically (as a generalization :) )? So the Lakota would not explain what his thoughts are to someone in that situation, but it could be clear that he has thoughts on the issue (or not, depending on the actual character)?

I think it would be fair to say that you might see the wheels in his brain turning, if you like ;) And chances are, he's not going to try to catch that horse himself, if that helps.

(Disclaimer: my brother is now Lakota. Long story :) )

chartruscan
04-02-2012, 03:41 AM
Okay, cool (I like the idea of having him having his own thinky thoughts, but not sharing with the class, now I just need to figure out what his thinky thoughts are!).

My instinct was to have the Lakota be leery of the horse and want to stay far away from it, with no other mention of his thoughts on it other than he 'd rather mend broken fence lines.

backslashbaby
04-02-2012, 07:57 AM
I think that would work (just mho). I'm nowhere an authority on Lakota culture and religion, so don't just take my word for it, if you can help it :)



My brother's religion is still all very mysterious to me (my mom's family is Muscogee/Cherokee [and Lumbee/Scotch-Irish if we're going there... but you see it gets complicated :D :D]).

RemusShepherd
04-02-2012, 09:30 PM
I do have a supernatural element, but it's not related to Native Americans, it's just there. I haven't quite figured out what to do with it. It's an escaped white horse of a rancher's dead wife, and the horse facilitates events in the story and then disappears. And it felt weird to then just find the horse and put it back in the barn, so I decided to leave it roaming the prairies like a ghost.

So my latest stupid question is: would a Lakota look at this horse with suspicion or think anything other than "annoying escaped horse"?

The Lakotans have a number of myths involving horses. 'Shuunka Wakan' (Horse Spirit) is one of their most powerful spirits. If he's the superstitious type he might take notice of a horse that isn't where it's supposed to be.

(I'm not Lakotan, but I had a friend who was. He called me 'Shuunka-ska Ciquala' -- 'Little White Dog'.)