Monday, October 24, 2016

Child Raising the Nez Perce Way by Paty Jager

Wallowa Lake
I have a spirit trilogy that is set among the Nez Perce Indians of NE Oregon. The Lake Nimiipuu as they called themselves wintered and summered in the Wallowa Valley where I grew up.

To write this trilogy I had to study and research the Nez Perce Indians in the 17 and 1800's.

The children of Nez Perce families were taught by their grandparents. The grandfathers taught the boys how to make weapons, hunt, fish, track, and fight. Grandmothers taught the girls how to take care of their families, do the chores, and help their men. The elders passed down the stories of the trickster coyote and how "The People" came to be. By reading books of their legends I learned how the legends taught the children basic truths about life and how to conduct themselves to be good Nez Perce.

Grandmothers also taught the girls about the coming of age and were by their sides during marriages and the births. When a girl began her menstrual cycle she would stay in the menstrual lodge for the duration of her bleeding. It was believed the women carried strong powers during this time and were susceptible to getting pregnant. They also thought this strong power would overrule the man's power.

This isolation served a purpose. They held private discussions about personal problems and conditions of health, exchanged views on herbal medicine, and composed songs. They cooked their own meals in the lodge and didn't touch anything outside nor could they attend any ceremonies during this time.

They used buffalo hides with the fur still on for menstruation pads or buckskin and milkweed. The pads were put in a hole in the middle of the dwelling and buried. 

After puberty girls were no longer allowed to play with boys and stayed in a lodge with their grandmothers and aunts and taught the ways of women until they married.

In book two of the series, Spirit of the Lake, Dove, a young maiden who becomes pregnant from an attack by a Whiteman, is sent to live with the old woman to keep her from speaking of the incident and causing trouble. The story takes place after the treaty of 1863 that took away the Wallowa Nez Perce's land but wasn't signed by the Wallowa Nez Perce. Because they could be removed from their land at any time against their will, the leader's worked hard, sometimes too hard, to keep peace between their people and the Whitemen moving into the valley.
Can a spirit set upon this earth to see to the good of the Nimiipuu stay true to justice when revenge burns in his heart?

Wewukiye, the lake spirit, saves a Nimiipuu maiden from drowning and bringing shame to herself and her family. Learning her people ignored her accusations against a Whiteman who took her body, leaving her pregnant,Wewukiye vows to help her through the birth and to prove the Whiteman’s deceit.

Dove slowly heals her heart and her distrust as Wewukiye, the warrior with hair the color of the sun, believes in her and helps her restore her faith in her people and herself.  

On their quest for justice, Dove reveals spiritual abilities, ensnaring Wewukiye’s respect and awe. But will these abilities seal their future or tear them apart?

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Paty Jager is an award-winning author of 25+ novels and over a dozen novellas and short stories of murder mystery, western historical romance, and action adventure. She has garnered a RomCon Reader’s Choice Award for her Action Adventure and received the EPPIE Award for Best Contemporary Romance. All her work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters.

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