It was Saturday night when I knew I’d smudge myself and my house with sage the next day. There had been a build up. With the media exposure of police shootings and the new energy for social justice as a response, I was caught up in the energy. But not without personal justification. Under Trump’s toxic atmosphere, my beloved Cherokee community quickly became as divisive as the rest of America.

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Call it evolution or enlightenment. Our perspective is broadening. Where we once only had the capacity to see ourselves in strict hyper local terms, now we can access the universal. In fact, both the universal and the hyper local are needed as checks and balances. In the narrow reaches of our identity, people are quick to lock themselves into violent identities–those in need of contention to exist, to be relevant, to matter. It takes a little dialectical thinking to incorporate a universal identity, where we have the intellectual capacity to, simultaneously, know how we are all connected.

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Sometimes I like to say controversial things, like the title to this article: “Being In’din’s a party and everyone’s invited.”  The stodgy conservative Native crowd gets upset with me.  I hear comments like, “You’re undermining sovereignty,” or “Don’t give the wannabes more fuel to misappropriate.”  All this is said with a fervor of control and a need for validation.  Interestingly enough, I always wonder why they need me to validate them.  “Who am I?  I’m nobody,” as my elders say before espousing wisdom.  So let me hand you a little myself.

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I spend a lot of time thinking about love, and what I’m about to discuss here is in the vein of love.  But a love for cohesiveness, a love that desires modalities in cooperation rather than competition.  Certainly, it took the very pessimistic concepts around Baudrillard’s philosophy to engender my thoughts on this subject.  But without Baudrillard I would’ve never reached this conclusive ending:  competition is a mere copy of a copy.  I hear you asking “So then what’s the original source?”  My answer:  inspiration.

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I’ve had several people inquire about practices and customs associated with smudging.  I decided to cleanse myself today so I thought I’d make a short video on rituals I’ve learned over the years.  This is by no means anything dogmatic.  These are just methods that I’ve learned over the years.  I’m Kiowa and Cherokee, and I’ve incorporated practices between both cultures and lessons I’ve learned personally through doing this routinely that work for me.

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There I am, like you, and so many writers, sitting at my computer and starting a new writing project.  I’m drawing up characters because this story has been running through mind for years and it’s finally ready to go onto a page.  Since I already have a working idea of who my main character is and her antagonist, I now need to weigh her against Karpman’s drama triangle.  What is her good, bad, and ugly?  This is how I’ve drawn multidimensional characters for over 10 years.  But then two other creative forms changed my approach:  Evolutionary astrology and Stanislavski’s method acting.

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Someone tells you, “There’s nobody on that piece of land,” and you’re invited to stake a claim to it, build a home, move your family, and grow crops.  Start a new life for yourself.  That was the narrative fed to early European settlers and is commonly referred to as “The Pristine Myth,” meaning the wilderness is untouched and open for the taking.  Then you arrive and find that not only are there people, but they’ve been there for thousands of years.  I’m going to ask you one question:  Has modern day academia created the same siphon?

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I hiked into the Grand Canyon.  I must’ve been in my late twenties, maybe early thirties.  It started out as a walk to look over the rim.  I had camped the night before in a tent at one of the sites and woke early (probably about 5am).  I was there with a friend and she was still asleep.  As the sun rose out of the east, I decided to follow the paved roads toward the rim of the Grand Canyon.

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What to do with a great idea?  Let’s sit down and map out a novel.  Writing in the dark is a popular way of writing short stories.  We get an idea.  We pull out the laptop.  We write until everything is on the page.  As we write, we don’t know where the story will lead and this suspense and feeling of surprise keeps us writing, it builds adrenaline, and keeps us guessing as we finish a story.  But there may need to be a different approach when it comes to a 25 chapter novel.

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We’ve heard the reified stories of men brutalizing men.  A rehearsal of patriarchy.   In fact, hyper masculine bullshit permeates our lives.  We see in the media, if not in our daily lives, the ramifications of patriarchy unchecked.  So what’s the answer?  Men are being called out now more than ever and violence continues.  Wars haven’t stopped.  We hear about a mass shooting in the U.S. almost everyday.  In my debut novel, Unsettled Between, Ever Geimausaddle faces his own brutality with the help of an underground matriarchy.

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Like clipping and pruning back branches on a bonsai tree.  Then we wire and train those branches to spread in the appearance of organic design reflective of the natural environment, taking careful consideration and steady hands.  We have to make the right decisions.  I’ve been revising Unsettled Between over the last two months and it’s been a transformative process not only for the novel but for me as well.

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