Growing up in an area rich in Native American history has made me curious and empathetic to the band of Nez Perce who summered in Wallowa County many generations before Lewis and Clark entered their lives.
The Wallowa, or Lake Nimiipuu as they call themselves, are a band of the Nez Perce (Nimiipuu) who moved like nomads across the Pacific NW and into the plains with the seasons. They wintered along the Imnaha River in the lower warmer regions of Wallowa County, spent the early spring in the camas meadows of Idaho, and summered at Wallowa Lake, fishing the Columbia in the fall and returning to their winter home before the snows became too treacherous. The warriors and some of the women went out on hunting expeditions to the plains for buffalo.
They were nomadic, but they had a fierce love of the land in their hearts.
Spirit of the Mountain, the first book of the trilogy, shows their love of the lake area and how they came to carry it so deeply within them. The heroine, in this book, carries the mountain in her heart and when she falls for the spirit who looks after the mountain and its occupants, she loses her heart to him as well.
Spirit of the Lake, is the second book in the trilogy. This book deals with the Whiteman encroaching on their land and the way the Nimiipuu are willing to look the other way to avoid being forcefully taken from their home.
Spirit of the Sky, The third and last book of the trilogy takes place as the Nimiipuu are fleeing the army to avoid being placed on a reservation by a treaty they didn't sign. I used factual events of the chase and inserted my fictional cavalry officer and spirit.
The spirit entity in these books is all a figment of my imagination, but it felt real to me. My fascination with the Native American culture, their healing herbs, chants, legends, myths, and vision quest all primed my imagination when I came up with the spirit siblings who are the main characters in the books.
In the first book, I use the vision quest as the means to bring the chief's daughter to talk with a white wolf, Himiin, the hero and spirit of the mountain. In her vision quest, her weyakin(the spirit who visits her) is a white wolf. So when her life is thrown upside down by her believing her vision quest means she must marry a warrior from the enemy Blackfeet tribe, she feels talking to the wounded white wolf she encounters is natural. When he turns into a handsome warrior, doing her duty becomes harder as she must leave the mountain and spirit of her heart.
The second book has Wewukiye (Bull Elk) as the hero. He is the white wolf's younger brother and a spirit as well. He lives in the lake as the antlered legend who comes out of the lake and takes bad children. Yet he is the fun loving practical joker of the three sibling spirits. In his book, he befriends a Nimiipuu maiden who has been raped by a Whiteman and becomes pregnant, but the band believes she is not telling the truth to avoid trouble and perhaps being tossed from their land because the treaty of '68 was not signed by Old Joseph, yet the government believes the other chiefs who signed spoke for all the Nez Perce.
Sa-qan (Bald Eagle) is the youngest of the three. She soars in the sky above all the Nimiipuu land watching over them. In the third book, Spirit of the Sky, she is desperately trying to keep the Nimiipuu from annihilation as the U.S. Army chases them from their homes on a four month, 1400 mile trek where they fall short of freedom and end up on reservations far from home. During the campaign she falls in love with a cavalry officer and together they try to save the Nimiipuu.
This spirit trilogy is my proverbial book of my heart. I spent countless hours on research to make sure the Nez Perce culture is correct in the books and the historical information is accurate. And this Christmas marks all three books being published. My Christmas gift.
I hope you receive good health, much love, and happiness for this Christmas and many more!
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