Contemporary Native Americans by Michele Stegman
We are all curious about how other people live. It’s why archaeologists dig up burials, why the paparazzi follow famous people around, and it’s one of the reasons we read fiction—to get a glimpse of how other people live.
In historical romances, Native Americans live a different lifestyle from other Americans. The author often gives us a picture of that lifestyle gleaned from anthropological reports, historical records, and old photographs. It is also often terrifying for the heroine of a romance book if she happens to get captured by Native Americans. There was a long-standing war between natives and incoming European-Americans, after all. The men were warriors and hunters, yet lived in communion with nature.
But what about Native Americans today? When I started doing research for
As I read and talked to people I began to realize that, just like any other American, Native Americans live, work, dress, and think in a wide range of ways. I just had to decide how my hero, Adrian Wright, was going to live.
I made Adrian part Comanche because the book is set in Texas. And I had a very good source for information on modern day Comanches. A neighbor is married to a Comanche and gave me a lot of help.
I had fun creating my modern day Native American hero. I enjoyed showing his family’s kinship patterns, customs, and unusual heirlooms they have in their homes, such as beaded vests and moccasins. Although poverty and high unemployment plague many Native Americans as well as many non-native Americans, I made Adrian wealthy and educated. Not every Native American lives on a reservation, and neither does Adrian.
The main issue in Mr. Right’s Baby is Native American legal rights. Over the years, many Native Americans lost their children because of adoption, or having them taken away and sent to schools where they were forced to accept American customs, language, dress, and ideas. Native Americans are still fighting for their children—but now in the courtroom instead of on the battlefield. The courts are finally favoring their suits.
Adrian’s child had been put up for adoption without his knowledge or consent. But once he knows he has a child, he is determined to find her—and get her back.
Carly’s now-single adoptive mother, Katie, is facing a terrible dilemma. How can she keep the child she has grown to love?
It was interesting to explore the world of modern Native Americans and it was fun to take my heroine, Katie, along with me, letting the reader see this other part of America through her eyes.
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When she spent a year’s sabbatical in San Antonio with her husband, Ron, and their two daughters, Kira and Shana, Michele Stegman never knew it would inspire a contemporary Native American romance. After all, she lives in an 1840’s log cabin, spins, weaves, makes her own soap, and writes historical romance. But when the plot for Mr. Right’s Baby just popped into her head one day, she knew she had to write the story. www.michelestegman.com
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