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The first tribe I introduced in the book was the Folsom People. I interlaced the language of the Lakota Sioux with English for their personal names, places, and common phrases. For example, the name of our main character, Chayton, means Falcon in the language of the Lakota Sioux.
For the River People, I employed the language of the Cheyenne Indians for personal names, places, and some common phrases. For example, the name of the heroine of the River People, Namid, means Star Dancer in the language of the Cheyenne Indians.
Finally, for the aggressive and hostile Mountain People I employed the language of the Comanche Indians for their personal names and places. For example, the warrior Tosarre's name in Comanche means Dog.
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One of the more memorable scenes in Chapter 10 of the first book Shadows on the Trail was when Keya of the Folsom People tribe (designated boy in the dialogue) finds Honiahaka from the River People tribe spying on the Folsom People's camp along the river. In the dialogue below, Keya only speaks the Lakota Sioux tongue while Honiahaka only understands the Cheyenne tongue. What happened with the conversation was a perfect example of a 'failure to communicate'.
Hidden behind scrub oak bushes along the river, Honiahaka watched the camp. It had been two suns since he had nearly drowned in the river. He smelled the roasting meat coming from the camp and his shrinking stomach growled in protest. Since he had eaten the frog legs at the marsh, his diet had consisted of grasshoppers, a small fish, and several more frog legs. He was famished.
Honiahaka now had a much better view of the village. He could now see the people’s faces. SMACK! An object whacked Honiahaka in the back of the head, knocking him flat. Before he could react, someone jumped on his back and shoved his face into the dirt. The attacker then grabbed one of
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My primary reason for using Native American languages in the Shadows on the Trail Trilogy was to make the dialogue between characters appear more authentic than merely speaking English or even using broken English. I wanted to present the Paleoindian characters as intelligent and insightful without resorting to the stereotype of 'dull witted cavemen who grunt and groan'. Based on skeletal remains and archeaological evidence, we can assume that the Paleoindians were intelligent hunters and gatherers with the same brain capacity as modern day humans.They could plan, create, and solve problems, as well as we can. A Paleoindian would probably not survive very well in our modern world, but I can guarantee that most modern humans could not survive in the Pleistocene filled with predatory animals and no cell phone to dial 911.
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