I can honestly say I’m a history fanatic, so writing a historical was perfect for my first book. What I didn’t realize was how hard it would be, making sure all of my facts were right.
In my mind, growing up in Oklahoma gave me an advantage regarding research–kind of like insider information. Or so I thought. Every year in school, I relearned about how several East coast Indian tribes were relocated to Indian Territory and became the Five Civilized Tribes. And every year, the focus was placed on Sequoyah, the inventor of the written Cherokee alphabet. When I started reading about the Cherokee and Choctaw, I quickly realized just how much I didn’t know about their way of life.
Did my research turn up anything different? You bet it did. I learned that most of the Cherokee were able to read and write, had their own businesses, and managed large farms. Most all of the tribes were fluent in their native tongue and English and lived under a sophisticated government system. Sad to say, but the majority of white settlers couldn’t read or write. I discovered that The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia maintained an Indian college where many earned an education in areas of law, medicine, and communication.
Another curious fact most people don’t realize is that most of the southeastern tribes did not live in teepees. They constructed well-built homes called “wattle and daub houses” and were made of plaster and river cane and had either thatched or bark-tiled roofs. The Seminole house was a bit different. Called a “chickee,” they were an open-concept style home with no walls and were made of wood and plaster and palmetto fiber-thatched roofs.
I learned so many different facts that, when I was in school, weren’t taught, giving each tribe an individuality and affording them a truly remarkable and honored place in American history. What is your level of knowledge regarding the Native American tribes? Do you know any interesting facts about the Five Civilized Tribes (Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, and Seminole)? How about the many other North American Indian tribes?