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Nations of Unheard Writers
by David Taub

There is one ingredient to becoming a successful writer that is generally overlooked or not talked about. Indeed there are successful writers who will not even acknowledge it as a factor - The lucky break. One of the greatest frustrations for a writer, whose veins flow with words, is to never achieve a single break, resulting in seeing any of their work in print - to be shared with others.

Persistence, putting one’s writing about amongst those who are editors and publishers, should (statistically) increase one’s chances of finding that break, but to roughly quote Abraham Lincoln, "It is not the man who makes the times great, rather it is the times which makes the man great."

Being in the right place at the right time - being given a chance to have your words heard and read, does not come about automatically, simply because one is a good writer. If that were the case why are there many examples of great and classic works which, it turns out, were repeatedly overlooked or 'rejected' before the writer was finally 'given a break' ?

Call me naive but, In spite of now living in America, I was surprised to discover how little writing I could find by Native American Indians. It is a combination of good fortune and quite frankly a 'privilege' in the truest sense, that I was personally introduced to a man who would tell me his of his experiences and generally those from the Native American's perspective.

Buffalo Hair, is a medicine man with traditional Native American beliefs and values. But it is not truly possible to understand his writing without first understanding what is truly a Native American. His conversation started with the gentle correction that, "Indians are not from America. Indians are from India. Native Americans are Indins - 'Indigenous' people of America. Nations not tribes."

What has been portrayed and commercialised of the Indin is not from an Indin's perspective, which is hardly surprising ! The themes that come out in Buffalo Hairs' poetry and writing, contradicts the stereotyped image created by the westernised portrayal of violent, uneducated savages, wielding hatchets and war-drums.

Buffalo Hair's work overflows with images of love for the family, and the love and respect of 'Mother Earth and Father Sky' combined with a sadness and grief for what was once the Native American's land, and what has been taken from them and 'misused'. And after all, they are the original forefathers - the indigenous people of North and South America - a boundary the Indin does not recognise.

As Buffalo Hair explained, "There are 40 million Indins without reservations or culture to call their own - the Mestizo Indins. Other nations are simply dying out and their names erased from history books. Many never got in the books in the first place. To answer very specific questions dealing with Native Americans would require me to ask the representatives of several hundred nations here in the U.S. In light of these numbers, it is hard to dispute that there are only a few Indin writers whose works are seen. But there are some grounds of commonality amongst Indins as a culture."

Many, if not most, have given up writing, because the life and history of the Indin nations, from their perspective, would not make 'popular reading'. At the very least, not popular as the minority in the majority's land of Liberty and Justice.

Is it a coincidence that Buffalo Hair has graduated as an independent film-maker and director from the Hollywood Film Institute but, as yet, not secured interest from his own country for what is a beautifully written and very telling screen-writing manuscript; The Blanket. "If I were to have any chance of realising my work, I think it would have to be in Europe where, I believe, there is a maturity of culture," Buffalo Hair told me.

Like the Indins as a collection of nations, it is difficult for Buffalo Hair to write without being accused of being a man with a 'grievance'. Yet none of his work has a sense of bitter resentment, outrage or anger in it towards the 'white-man' as a race or individuals. Not when one reads carefully what is actually being said by Buffalo Hair.

Their grief and 'indignation' is at what they see as the actions and 'broken promises' of the 'white-man'. Ironically, there is a parallel between the genre of writing labelled 'New Age' which is a growing genre in the white western culture. The recurring themes are basically similar and which reflects the Indins' belief that, "Mother earth does not belong to man, but rather man belongs to Mother earth."

On first reading any one of his poems, they may appear to have a simplistic quality to them, and initially stand accused of being 'idealistic'. Yet high on the agenda of the major concerns of the western world in particular, is 'Environmental issues'. The difference being that, in this day and age, it is more fashionable to deliver one's opinions in a highly technical document with 'Imminent world scientist' signed at the bottom. Given the choice of a dry, scientific document, or Buffalo Hairs' writing, I prefer the following poem (one of many) by Buffalo Hair:

Fostered Hope

In times of old when we were free, and travelled with a subtle breeze
This land of birth had no disease, and all we felt was life at ease.

Bison roamed a million fold and, in our way, that was our gold.
He served us well, both young and old, his all of wealth, from stories told.

Our wine of choice was of a spring, we shared our life with everything.
Oh Mother Earth and Father Sky, please save us from this white man's Lie.

His ways of hate and words of quick have left our people sad and sick.
He's killed the beasts that ruled the plains, and gave us booze that rot our brains.

Those words of quick have hurt our sight, and pushed us to this time of plight.
Our children walk in endless night, for they have lost the path of light.

Make well of us and land gone strange, and bring back life to barren range.
Return the water we may drink, and clear our minds so we may think.

Return the spark of life's sweet fire, and give new hope for those we sire.
Make good this land that has gone strange, and foster forth this Time of Change.

Copyright 1997 Buffalo Hair

The hope for better things to come, and changes in the way mankind has been treating our Mother Earth and Father Sky, is a cornerstone to the Indin's way of thinking. No surprise then, that this is reflected in their words. And here is another interesting fact that explains one of the reasons why the written word of the Indin is not readily found in many bookstores. The sacred legends and traditions of the Indin are passed down by word-of-mouth within their own culture, from generation to generation.

I cannot emphasise the privilege that it is for myself to have been taken into Buffalo Hairs' confidence, and which required permission form his elders. Their beliefs and words are sacred to those who have not become westernised. This is another concern for Indin writers - That their culture is becoming increasingly lost as many of their nations become integrated with the white American culture and society. Certainly, the Indin culture and writing has been a refreshing 'eye-opener' in contrast to the general flavour of popular modern writing genres - fast action, violence, sex, glitz and glamour.

I hope that Buffalo Hair's screen-play / film, The Blanket, will eventually make it from paper to screen. A story of an Indin blanket, as it is passed down from generation to generation. The blanket is also symbolic of the ways and essential cultural foundations, 'surviving and underlying' each generation as it passed down. I leave you with a brief 'clip' -

Rosa leaves the fields and seeks work in the city, becoming a housekeeper, works as a domestic and finally meets Manuel the gardener. They share their life stories, sorrows, happy times and finally, the blanket, her prized possession. Then this scene will CUT TO a modern city, Denver Colorado.

With the screech of an Eagle, the camera should act as if it were the eyes of the messenger from the Creator. The POV will be from this eagle as it soars over the city......

Copyright retained, David Taub, published in Writers' Forum (UK) Literary Magazine Summer 1998, Issue Vol 6 issue 3

David Taub is a member of :
The British organisation 'National Union of Journalists' (NUJ);
Columnist for the UK magazine 'Poetry Now';
Freelance writer for various UK and USA magazines;
Co-author of Language of Souls (listed on


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