Showing posts from March, 2011

Celtic Blood, Cherokee Blood, and Nature's Earthly Spirits

Helen Terry Dunton c. 1912 When I asked my redheaded Great Aunt Violet, who died many years ago but in whose western saddle I still ride, to tell me what she remembered about my paternal grandmother, she said, "Well, besides being a crack shot with a rifle, Helen was part Irish, and part Cherokee , and that wasn't a very good thing to be back then."   Auntie Vi was from the Dunton clan, my father's clan. "We have Scots blood," was the pronouncement, and I took it to mean that Scots blood was somehow superior to the Irish blood my grandfather had married into.  The Cherokee blood was rarely mentioned, and never with "princess" lineage claims. I continue to research this claim but have found no direct lineage tying me to enrolled ancestors, only the names of distant cousins and ties to Cherokee communities in Oklahoma such as Wauhillau and Stillwell. Beyond the American Pale In David M. Emmons book, Beyond the American Pale: The Irish in t

Research is not a dirty word. Or: A story about an elk, an eagle, and two-hearted women

Bull elk on Lookout Mountain  in snowstorm Writing is not just about what we already know.   It's also about what we wish we knew.  At this juncture, where facts and experience meet curiosity, inspiration takes root.  Passion and our emotional connection to a story may form the heart, but research gives a story legs; it keeps the story moving forward and keeps writer and reader engaged.  Research is exploration.   It is venturing into unknown territory, and the tension created between knowing, and not knowing, like a taut rubber band, can catapult us into someplace new. Take this elk, for instance.   Large antlers serve bull elk  well during the rut, when they're sparring to test strength and endurance and hopefully gather up a harem of cows. But twice this winter, my neighbors and I have seen big bulls tangle with the orange plastic mesh fencing used on construction sites. This particular  bull is a member of the large herd that lives here in our mountain community, an