Comment on this
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
Persistence, putting ones writing about amongst
those who are editors and publishers, should
(statistically) increase ones 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
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
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
In times of old when we were free, and travelled with a
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
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
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
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,
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
Copyright retained, David Taub, published in Writers'
Forum (UK) Literary Magazine Summer 1998, Issue Vol 6
David Taub is a member of :
The British organisation 'National Union of Journalists'
Columnist for the UK magazine 'Poetry Now';
Freelance writer for various UK and USA magazines;
Co-author of Language of Souls (listed on amazon.com)
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