Outside My Culture.

A friend asked what led me to write about Native Americans/First Peoples (Getting It Right).

Getting It Right is about a lot of things: love, addiction, maturity, raising children, fixing broken relationships, doing your part for community,  the ache of belonging nowhere. The main couple have that fiery, primal, sexual tension that exists for some, so throw ttwd in the mix. Some of the characters were raised on a reservation, as foster children. Some have Native ancestry. Two are 100 % Native People.  The book, a Contemporary Romance, is set in Western US of A.  There you go-outside my culture.

I worried about publishing it. I’m no scholar, no expert.

All my life I’ve been fascinated by Native People, in this and other countries.  I actually read Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee when the book came out. I was a kid and the book was 487 pages long.

In those days, I was a Horse Girl. (You can have the boys!)  All I wanted was a horse.  I had a  deep love for a paint mare who just somehow existed in a field nearby (Yes.We lived in NoWhere’s Ville). There was no barn. No house. No one ever seemed to be there, to care for her. I carried hay to her in the winter.  And snuck her apples and carrots from our house (which was courting death in our family).

Eventually she let me sit on her back.

When I was in the 8th grade I wanted to run away and join the AIM occupation at Wounded Knee.  Seriously.

I mean, come on! Horses.


Extremely good looking men. (I was noticing, by then)

And a cause that stirred my soul.

I did research (not easy in those days before the Internet).

In the end, I didn’t run away.  For all the things I lacked at the time, and there were many, I was still privileged– a white child with a family. Working parents.  Educated parents.  It wasn’t a good thing to drop out of school.

The hard truth:  one more young teen wouldn’t have helped anyone there, and not having an education wouldn’t have done me any good once the excitement was over.

I could analyze this teenage fantasy/life-long fascination, but I’d rather tell you a story.

When I was in my late twenties I’d saved enough money to travel out west. I loved it. I was gone for several months, a hiatus before starting a new job.  I  drove an old Toyota Tercel, crammed with backpacking gear, books, and writing materials (I had an early Apple computer in my trunk).

Life was good.  Every now and then I’d stay at a hotel and get a shower, call home, write checks to pay bills.  Most of the time, I drove back roads with no idea where I was. I was exploring.  God, I was happy! Fearless.  Maybe stupid.  Who knows. But I tell you, I met with nothing but kindness wherever I went and collected stories and memories that still shine, bright light in my memory.

Ten Sleep Canyon.

One afternoon  I  became aware of a heavy sadness, a crushing darkness, descending. In me.  Eventually I was blind from tears I had no words for. I stopped the car and fell out, lying on the ground.  Sounds rang in my ears. Indecipherable voices and crying out.  I lay for a long time.

The tone changed. A soft, comforting sound-aimed not at me, but all around. And finally, quiet.  I pushed to my knees, placed my palms on the ground and leaned in, kissing the damp where my face had lain.  As I crawled to the car, wind brushed my hair like soft fingers.

Well into a career in Mental Health,  I knew all about hallucinations and  the like. But I didn’t bother stopping at the nearest cluster of buildings and asking directions to a Psych Ward. I had no idea where I was. But I knew I’d been at the scene of a horrendous tragedy.

Later I drove past a sign: Leaving Wounded Knee.

We are all linked.

We are all people. We have all come from different lands, different traditions.  These days, peoples are blending as never before, and in the end, I think this is good. . The characters in Getting it Right are not meant to be studies in Native Peoples.  They are just people who have been living in my head. For the most part, they’re the outcasts, the little-of-this and little-of- that. They found acceptance and love among people who actually had the least, and yet gave their hearts. And that…. well, I live in that circle.


If you’d like to read great Romance, written by a white woman who really knows her stuff: Kathleen Eagle.

Ms. Eagle lives with her husband of 35 years, a Lakota Sioux.  I love her books.  Check out The Complete Eagle here:

Caveat:  There is no ‘funny’ business with  dominance–but I love these books. You might too!

2 thoughts on “Outside My Culture.

  1. Saoirse, what an amazing story. I, too, was fascinated with Native People growing up. I wore the garb; I rooted for them in all the westerns. I loved the addition of these little-written-about people in your story. It pushed the book over the edge to great with their inclusion, in my opinion.

    To me, you don’t have to know a lot about something to write about it. Be as genuine as you can be, and you’ll be as right as you need to be.


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