A writer's dilemma

    Tségháhoodzáni — otherwise known as Window Rock

    As I'm writing Kat and Gabe's story here, I'm facing a dilemma I haven't faced much before (apart from a single scene in Surrender) and that is how to respect the boundaries within Indian culture while at the same time explaining things enough so that readers will understand.

    My sister and I were emailing back and forth about this at about 4 AM my time (noon-ish her time in Stockholm). She was confused by a scene in the draft manuscript of Naked Edge, and I hadn't given more detail because I felt doing so would be wrong.

    It's frowned upon (if not utterly forbidden) to share the details of Native ceremonies with outsiders. You can't photograph sacred sites, nor can you take pictures at ceremonies. That's just how it is. So for me to write an Indian character, I have to show that world from the inside without crossing boundaries that would be considered exploitative.

    It's not an unfamiliar balancing act, as I've had to do that as a journalist, as well. I've covered meetings of the Navajo Nation Council in Window Rock (above), as well as an attempt by feds to barricade and shut down the Sun Dance at Camp Ana Mae at Big Mountain (no photos, sacred site). In both instances, I was part of events the full nature of which was private but part of which needed to be made public in order to for people to step up and help Indian people.

    Even when I reported on events at "Mesa Butte" (not it's real name), I had to be careful of what to say and what not to say.

    Also, I'm working hard to make sure that Kat feels authentically Indian to me but is also someone who feels accessible and real to readers.

    OK, so there's not much to this post, but there you have it. :-)

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