Thursday, September 29, 2011

South Dakota Festival of Books 2011

More good news to share…I’ve been invited to participate in the South Dakota Festival of Books, October 7-9, 2011 in Deadwood, South Dakota, a 3-day festival celebrating all things literary. This year’s theme is Native America, which is why Hidden Heritage: The Story of Paul LaRoche was selected as one of the books to have on hand.
I'm scheduled for two presentations, Saturday, October 8th, at the Franklin Hotel, Main Street, Deadwood.

Saturday, 10 am: "Seeking Heritage: Where Literature and Identity Intersect", with Minnesota author Colleen Baldrica.

Saturday, 4 pm: "The Hidden Heritage Journey"

All authors are invited to take part in two book signings at the Deadwood Pavillion/Chamber of Commerce:  Friday, October 7, 4-5 pm, and Saturday, October 8, 12:30-2 pm.

Attending the festival in Deadwood has deeper meaning for me, because that is where the ‘Hidden Heritage Journey’ first began. Here's what I mean...


The Hidden Heritage journey began with a chance encounter in the tourist town of Deadwood, South Dakota. On a family vacation in the Black Hills in 1999 we happened upon Brulé playing near the sidewalk seating of the Buffalo Stockade bar on Main Street. The music from this small, upcoming band of three was as captivating as the surrounding landscape. Their distinct sound initially caught my attention—the hauntingly beautiful mix of flute, keyboard, and traditional drum they are now famous for. Listening one could immediately sense something deeper at the heart of it. Sure enough, in reading Paul’s Artist Bio I was equally captivated by his life story.

All the way back to Minneapolis I heard a voice, You should write a book about this man…

But before I reached home my own doubts drowned out the voice, telling me I had no connection to Paul LaRoche, a complete stranger. I wasn’t Native American or adopted, and more importantly I didn’t have any writing credentials. The loudest doubt pushed through time and time again: You’re not a real writer; you’ve never even been published! Yet each time I listed to Paul’s unique music, the voice returned.

Three years passed before I dispelled the doubts and found the courage to respond…and as soon as I did, an amazing journey began. First came an article about Paul, published in a regional magazine, followed by the book in 2006, Hidden Heritage: The Story of Paul LaRoche, including two awards. That summer I joined Paul for book signings at several Brulé events, but none was more moving than at Mount Rushmore National Monument. I stood on the park’s plaza, the majestic monument in the backdrop, beautiful Brulé music playing in the mountain air, signing books alongside Paul. It was a moment I never could have imagined seven years earlier on our first vacation to the Black Hills.

Yes, there have been roadblocks along the way, some bigger than others, but with faith and perseverance we’ve tromped over and around those obstacles, committed to keep this journey on track. In 2009 Hidden Heritage, a documentary-style television series premiered on the RFD-TV cable network, opening a door for Brulé to perform at the RFD-TV Theater in Branson, a show that’s now described as 'a Native American experience in sight, sound, and soul.' On January 1, 2011, Brulé performed atop One Nation, a Native American-themed float in the prestigious Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, sponsored by RFD-TV.

So next week I return to Deadwood to attend the South Dakota Festival of Books as an invited author, 12 years after I first saw Paul playing his soul-stirring music. Chance encounter? Hardly. Every phase of this journey declares it is God’s perfectly designed plan, a journey that is far from complete.

While writing Hidden Heritage, I discovered Paul’s great-great-great grandfather, a Yankton chief named Strikes the Ree (1804-1888), was an important figure in American history. In 1804 Lewis and Clark camped at Calumet Bluff when word came that a baby had just been born. The famed explorers wrapped the infant in a flag and declared that he would someday be a great American citizen. Their prophecy indeed came true. Strikes the Ree became a great leader among his people and played a significant role as a peacemaker during the Great Sioux Uprising. During his life he traveled to Washington DC and received peace medals from three US presidents. Worthy of an epic tale, the great burdens the chief bore during the years of cession and settlement on the Northern Plains have largely been overlooked by historians.

Strikes the Ree
South Dakota State Historical Society Photo

I believe the Hidden Heritage journey has led to this important, historical book. All this and more I could have missed, had I not taken that first step.

Where is your journey taking you?


1 comment:

Julie Saffrin said...

You have much to be proud of-pursuing your dreams and making them real. I hope you sell a ton of Hidden Heritage books. People need to hear this beautiful story of reconciliation.