When I was just a little kid, I always thought there was something wrong with the portraying of the Native American (or Indian, as we called them then) in those Wild West movies we saw on our TV. Why were the Indians always the bad guys, and the whites the good? Even at such a young age, I thought this could not be right.
I was very glad to see at last a film, Soldier Blue, which told a more true story. I remember it brought some commotion in the US, as it showed how the army ruthlessly killed people who had committed no crimes. That was when I was just 20 or so. And later on came Dances With Wolves, which is one of the most beautiful films I've ever seen.
I began to look up facts about Native American and I remember I even wrote to one of the Nations for more information on their way of living. I did get an answer, and still have a word list from the language of the Apache to English. Thought for a long time I could write a novel set in the Wild West, but consider against it. I just know not enough to write about a culture that is so different from ours.
Luckily there are authors around who can write a beautiful book in which Native American culture is related to the reader. Take Janet Dailey. One of the books I remember she wrote is The Pride of Hannah Wade, where a white officer's lady is taken by Apache and held there as a captive first and later on as a wife. Hannah soon realizes these 'wilds' have more honor than her own husband.
Also Madeline Baker writes beautiful romances about the Native American - for instance Lakota Love Song, where a young while girl falls in love with the young Lakota who's injured. And then of course Karen Kay who has written more than fifteen novels about Native American culture. Miss Kay says she wants the reader to see how noble these men and women were - and if you read her books, you can only agree.
Some time ago, I bought a CD full of Native American music, and I find it strangely attractive. I respect people who can live with an immense respect for nature (something we also learned as little kids from our father) and the elements.