I grew up outside of St. Louis on the Illinois side of the Mississippi. My family was from Tennessee. We took a number of trips there every year but I had never seen mountains until I was 13. My dad decided it was time to vacation in the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee and North Carolina. My grandparents piled in our 1963 Impala and off we went. One of the highlights was to go to the Qualla Reservaion in Cherokee, North Carolina. I shivered with anticipation.
My only exposure to Native America was from the westerns I’d seen at the movies or TV. Not a very realistic picture as I came to realize. My heart pounded when we pulled over at a small gift shop/gas station outside Cherokee where a gentleman dressed in a beautiful Indian costume stood out front. Back then they called it “Chiefing”. You got your picture taken and paid the person for the photo opp. But I never got my picture taken. My grandfather took me over to this old gentleman and introduced me as his grandchild and told him it was my first time to visit.
I’m not sure what went through his mind as he smiled down at me. Being so very shy I couldn’t think of anything to say. He laid his hand on my shoulder and smiled and began to speak in Cherokee. Something hit me like a lightning bolt. A spiritual awakening? A vision of the future? A revelation of who I would become? I never even knew what he said to me. I just knew I would never be the same.
Nine years later I was lucky enough to be invited to return and do my student teaching at the Cherokee Elementary School. I lived at the Cherokee Children’s Home and took the bus with the children each day to school because I didn’t have a car. It was my first time to be away from my home in the Midwest. My life did indeed change because of the marvelous people of the Qualla Reservation. I love them dearly even today. Much of my life I have spent studying about many tribes and tried to incorporate some Native American aspect into the things I write.
My book is titled Turnback Creek. It is a traditional western for those of you who are a purest when it comes to the old west. One of my favorite authors is Louie L’Amour. You just can’t beat his stories.
Henry Boxx wore the reputation of a mean scoundrel like a badge of honor when it came to getting what he wanted. One of those things was the land that ran along Turnback Creek belonging to the Holt family. The only way to get such a prize was to make sure they met with an untimely death. Believing their small boy was away from home, he never bothered to tie up that one loose end. The day came when a lawman showed up, bent on taking back what was rightfully his, and bringing the man to justice who killed his parents.
One of my favorite western locations is Monument Valley on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona. I had the privilege of taking my children there and experiencing yet another wonderful tribe and their traditions. Author Tony Hillerman, another favorite western author, taught me so much about their traditions in his stories that going there was a dream come true.
When I was asked to participate in the Tales From Big Country to help raise money for The American Wild Horse Campaign, I knew it was yet another way I could help restore the things I love about the West. You can still pre-order Tales From Big Country for .99 for a couple of weeks. Then it will go to full price. https://www.amazon.com/Tales-Big-Country-Western-Collection-ebook/dp/B07QNN1ZP8/ref=sr_1_5?keywords=books+by+tierney+james&qid=1561511040&s=gateway&sr=8-5
All my books can be found on Amazon. Thank you for supporting us as we raise money for the American Wild Horse Campaign.
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