Today welcome Middle Grade Author Rosanne Parry to the blog. Her new book WRITTEN IN STONE has been shortlisted for the Pacific NW Booksellers Association 2014 Book Awards.
Take it away, Rosanne!
When I very first started writing WRITTEN IN STONE more than 15 years ago I thought I would write a contemporary piece about the Makah's resumption of whale hunting in 1999. Self-determination of natural resources is an important part of the American civil rights story and one I seldom see in books. But as I researched the story and talked with people in the tribe about whaling and what it meant to them, I realized that the more interesting story was not that they eventually reclaimed their whale hunting practices but that they voluntarily gave them up.
When the Makah signed their treaty with the US they gave up 300,000 acres of timber in order to secure the right to hunt whales in their accustomed waters. But following the First World War, industrial whaling decimated gray and humpbacked whales all along the Pacific coast. The Makah will not hunt an endangered resource, so even though the whaling was their entire economy and the cornerstone of their spiritual life, they gave it up. They story of how you go on being the people you are when the thing that so defines you is gone, is a cultural survival story that I think will speak to many people beyond Native American communities.
Beyond that I chose the year 1923 because it is a year before Native Americans were given American citizenship. Even after thousands of Indians from nearly every tribe fought in World War I, they were not allowed to vote. Everyone knows women gained the vote in 1920, but most people don't know that Indian's were denied the vote until 1924.
By great coincidence, three other authors from Portland also have books out this year set in the 1920s. If you enjoy this era you might also enjoy:
Whistle in the Dark by Susan Hill Long
Born of Illusion by Teri Brown
In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters
Thank you, Rosanne. The Makah tribe regained their whaling rights in 1999 when numbers of gray whales increased in Pacific Coastal waters.
On a related subject, did you see the photos of the world’s rarest whale sighted several weeks ago near Victoria, B.C.? Scientists believe only 500 right whales remain and the last confirmed sighting of one in Pacific Canadian waters was in 1951. Check out the photos and story here, and let me know what you think.
I'm fascinated to discover little-known history, stories of people and events that provide a new perspective on why and how things happened, new voices that haven't been heard, insight into how the past brought us here today, and how it might guide us to a better future.
I also post here about my books and feature other authors and their books on compelling and important historical topics.
Occasionally, I share what makes me happy, pictures of my garden, recipes I've made, events I've attended, people I've met. I'm always happy to hear from readers in the blog comments, by email or social media.