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Starting a new thread as I read Kathryn Lynn Davis's SING TO ME OF DREAMS.

One thing a lot of writers do that I find annoying: describing eyes of a Native person as "black eyes." That's in here 10 times. She doesn't mean from being hit or injured. She means the iris is black.
And eyes shaped like almonds. That's in here, too. Four times.
Remember in that earlier thread, I noted that Salish men are barefoot? That's so annoying--the idea that Native ppl went without shoes on their feet.

According to what Davis is telling her readers, that's the way the Salish ppl lived...
Here's Saylah (previously, Tanu), talking to the white woman (Flora) who runs the white household Saylah now lives in as a caregiver:

‘I am Salish,’ she explained. ‘I wore no shoes until I joined the missionary school,"
White ppl think Native ppl didn't wear shoes. You can see that in the U of Illinois mascot, "Chief Illiniwek"... see the bare feet? But they needed to protect their hands. See? Look at those gloves.

Nonsense! Whiteness and its nonsense!
Julian is the guy who Saylah is gonna marry. But right now, she's living in the house owned by Julian's father, Jamie. Jamie is bedridden. But, he wants to see Saylah. Julian takes her into his room. She remembers when a girl at the school got the "Red Sweating Sickness."
Remember? That is what (according to Davis), the Salish ppl called scarlet fever.

But, "Red Sweating Sickness" looks to be something Davis made up. The searches I do on that phrase lead to her bk or bks about her bk.
Again, I turn to Davis to ask, @kathrynlyndavis what is your source for that? And--I'll note again that I'm asking this because you are an editor, with the responsibility of helping writers. What sources are you using, and are you recommending them to your writers?
Ah--maybe I'm wrong about your role at @GlenfinnanPubl1. It looks like you're an acquisitions editor:
Back to my reading of SING TO ME OF DREAMS. I'm rdg about other white families/characters now, that Julian's family interacts with. There's Edward and his wife, Sophia.

Sophia's dad is in Boston and didn't approve of Edward. He writes letters to Sophia.
In one, he writes that he worries she is in danger, "from the savages who people those islands."

As I read on, will Sophia tell her dad they're not savages--that "savage" is a stereotype and embodies bias?
That letter is in chapter 22. In chapter 25, we see Sophia writing back to her father. Her reply is full of deceptions. She's poking him and his sensibilities, on purpose, but I don't know if it works or not. Here's what she said: You seem particularly concerned about the Indians, but reall
Oh! I meant to insert a link to the previous thread right away, and forgot. So... here is the start of that thread.
In that earlier thread, I noted that when she was 6, the little Salish girl killed what everyone thought was a buck but that turned out to be a doe. That was a miracle, they felt, and so they viewed her as their queen (yeah, that is a problem). I bring that up now because...
... that deer makes another appearance when Saylah left the mission school to work for the Ivy family. When she arrives at their property, she sees a tree that has been carved into a buck with antlers. She views it as a sign that tells her she is where she needs to be.
In the Ivy household Saylah coaxes Jamie Ivy out of his bed where he's been sick for some time. Julian is his adult son. One evening he tells them all the story of that carved deer. It is symbolic for him, about where he's meant to be.
Where he's meant to be... land that belonged to what tribal nation? Saylah seems unaware of any tribal nation's fight to protect their lands from White people.

Remember--the story Davis tells starts in 1861. By then, the Salish had already met Lewis and Clark and...
... tribal nations in that area had been negotiating with the US for several years.

As depicted in this bk, there's very little contact with Whites until 1876.

Course, the main character of this bk has an absent white father, so.... there's that.
I'm not sharing much, now, as I read through Kathryn Lynn Davis's SING TO ME OF DREAMS.

To refresh: the main char is meant to be a Salish woman abt 19 years old. When she was w/ her ppl (birth to 15), her name was Tanu. W/ whites, it is "Saylah" ("Sally Fisher"). The yr: 1876.
From 15-18 Saylah was in a mission school (her choice to go; pls revisit this thread and one previous to it). At 18 she goes to live with the Ivy's a white family who need help. There's a fella, Julian. His father is bedridden. Why, is a mystery.
That father's name is Jamie. His wife is Flora. They have a son, Theron (he's half bro to Julian).

One day Saylah takes Theron out, to teach him how to shoot a bow and arrow. They take two bows that were hanging on the walls in the Ivy home.
They don't have arrows for the bows. So, they're "collecting cedar sticks" to make the arrows.

Hmm... I'm quite skeptical of that!

But anyway, Saylah carves them, adds feathers, and she shoots one, hitting the target. Theron wants her to shoot a squirrel next.
But she tells Theron that it is wrong to do that for fun. The spirits will be angry. She tells him:

"If you are genuinely hungry or the animal threatens your life, then is it allowed. The animals are glad to give up their lives to feed us, the Changer teaches.’"
There's "Changer" again. What is Davis's source for that?

Theron wants to know who Changer is; Saylah tells him Changer is another name for God. She goes into details on animals giving their lives, how it is a gift, but that...
... "‘perhaps the animals enjoy the chase as much. Just because they must give up their lives does not mean they must do it easily.’"

Then, Saylah and Julian talk about hunting with a bow and arrow versus a gun. She wants to show him that a bow and arrow is a better weapon. So they set off into the woods.

But... she decides he needs a beaver skin to hold the arrows in... So off they go to find a beaver.
They find one; she kills it with the bow and arrow. He admires her kill (thru the neck, saving the pelt). But a cougar appears and he raises the bow and arrow, intending to kill it. She stops him because "the cougar was sacred among the Salish."
Julian tells her cougars are dangerous to his people; Saylah realizes she's not with her own people anymore and sort of panics. She comes to, in Julian's arms.

Note: obviously this "Salish" story is far from that... it is a white woman's imaginings.
Hmm... Julian and Saylah return to the house. No further mention of the beaver, of using its skin. What happened to it?

That proposed use of a fresh beaver skin reminds me of the fresh skunk skins two Indian men wear in LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE.
Meanwhile, Theron (Julian's little half-bro) and Paul (neighbor's boy) are off in the woods. Paul is mad, having seen his dad, Edward, having sex with someone who isn't his mother (her wife).

THEY SEE THE COUGAR! It sees them! They hide in a log...
Their parents are worried. It is now nighttime. Saylah sees the parents talking and says she'll go find the boys. Edward asks how she'll do that, in the dark.

She says "I am of Salish blood." (Me, rolling my eyes at this speech.) ‘I am of Salish blood. I spent many years living in the wo
Another by-the-way note: whenever this Salish woman speaks, she doesn't use contractions. LOT of white writers create Native speech that way... they think it sounds more authentic. It doesn't.
Saylah and Julian set off into the forest to search for the boys.

They find footprints. When she sees the cougar prints chasing the boys, she panics, remembering she had stopped it being killed.
As they search there's references to "the spirits" who do this or that thing.

Back at the house, Jamie (Julian's sickly father) comes out of his room and waits with the others. He tells them Saylah will find the boys.
Saylah and Julian did find them and have brought them into the house. Saylah will use her herbs to help them. Paul is in shock; Theron has a fever from the cougar mauling his arm.

In case I didn't mention it earlier, Jamie and Edward were friends at one time.
As I've read Davis's book, I've noted her use of Native ppl sitting "cross-legged." It appears six times. Here's one (she's reminiscing):

"Of sitting cross-legged near glowing coals, knee to knee with the other women, the salt air all around us."
It grates, frankly. I've seen that in other bks, too.

Clearly, Davis knows not to use "Indian style." But why does she (or any writer) feel the need to describe how a Native person sits?! If she removed "cross legged" from the sentence, is anything lost? What does having it add?
60% of the way through SING TO ME OF DREAMS. Slow going and not enjoying the reading itself but hope that ppl who write or review bks (no matter what genre) that have Native content are reading, sharing, talking about the errors in the book.
When chapter 48 opens, Paul and Theron (who were attacked by a cougar) are in the stable, afraid to go back into the woods. Paul is envious of Theron's wound.

Theron remembers Saylah saying that her people (Salish) call it "Mark of the Cougar."
Here's a screencap of that part. I've done a search of Salish + "Mark of the Cougar" and found nothing. Seems something that Davis made up, but if you're reading this thread and I'm wrong, Ms. Davis, please tell me! What is your source! ‘Saylah said her people called it the Mark of the Cougar.
And a very strong caution to writers: DO NOT MAKE UP STUFF YOU THINK NATIVE PEOPLE SAY, DO, OR THINK! You're likely relying on stereotypical ideas you've absorbed. We are real people, of many distinct Native Nations. STOP MAKING STUFF UP! You're misleading readers.
Oh... there's a big party at the Ivy house. Julian is teaching Saylah how to dance (no specific kind of dance is mentioned) and now she's telling him to meet her by the carved deer later so she can "teach you to dance as my People do."
Saylah goes off to dance with Theron. While that happens, Lizzie (a white woman that Julian has had sex with) stands by him and watches him watching Saylah. She says that "Indian women are very mysterious" and that...
.... it makes them fascinating. Men can't resist what they don't understand, she says. She moves off and Edward stands with Julian. He's heard what Lizzie said and smiles conspiratorially at Julian, saying that Lizzie s right.
"If we could just find out their secrets, understand them, if you know what I mean, we could resist them" Edward says to Julian. Earlier in the story, there was a scene where Edward is having sex with a Salish woman.
Still at the party, Edward starts telling the guests about how he and Julian first came to the area... looking for gold. They didn't find much but Julian had guessed it wasn't gold or coal that would make them rich, but the land. Guests cheer as this story is told.
Saylah says and thinks nothing about any of that. Some ppl are probably wondering if I have any suggestions for what Saylah might be saying or thinking, but I don't. Some edits would be easily done (deleting all the sitting cross-legged parts) but the premise is way too flawed.
Way back in the thread I noted that there's tension between Jamie and Edward, and we're learning why now. Back when Jamie was married to Simone (Julian's mom), Edward stole land from Jamie and also had an affair with Simone. As she hears this, Saylah is feeling ...
... tremendous empathy for Jamie and what he's lost.

She doesn't have a thought, at all, for the land, or her own people and what they've lost.

I know--that's not the story Davis wanted to tell. What DID Davis want to tell readers?
The party is over and Julian heads to the deer so Saylah can teach him to dance. She leads him deeper into the woods. He's worried about wild animals but she tells him the drums will keep them away.

Drums? Oh...
She's led him to place where she uncovers something. He says it is their old well. But she says:

‘Tonight it is a drum. Usually, you see, there are the drummers and the dancers. I had to think of a way to do both alone. I was lucky to find the well.’
Sounds to me like she's gonna dance on that old well and that her footsteps will make it be a drum, too.

You know what comes to my mind?! This: Screen capture from Disney's PETER PAN, of Tiger Lily dancin
She tells him that he said he wanted to know about her people. "This is the most sacred thing I can teach you." He's surprised that dance is that sacred. She tells him it is much more than that:
She says

"Not merely to move to the beat of drums, to the cadence of rattles and the sounds of the night, to change with the firelight, altered every moment by the breeze. To dance, yes, but also to celebrate. That is what I wish to teach you.’
She's made a fire. Now she takes off her coat. He sees she's barefoot, is wearing a necklace of bear and cougar teeth, a top of pounded bark, a cedarbark skirt, and anklets of shell and deer hooves.

She's also brought a bottle of whiskey for him to relax. Now, he takes a drink.
She's dancing, stamping on the well/drum, tapping another drum at her waist. She invites him to join her and feel what she feels, that nothing else in all the world is like it, but that he won't feel it if he's afraid. (This is so weird.)
He's drunk and desires her. She's also singing. He thinks he'll look like a fool if he joins her. Nobody will see, she says. They're alone "with the magic of a Salish campfire and the beat of Salish drums." Watch, she tells him, and his body will know when it is time to join her.
[Note: I asked colleagues in Native lit if they know of/rec bks in this genre. Malea Powell pointed to an episode of Native America Calling on this topic.…]
Saylah sings a song (in English). Julian asks about it. She tells him it was Tanu's song, that she was queen of her people but had died long ago. She keeps on dancing (and for me, that image of Tiger Lily is definitely what I see as I read these words of how she's dancing).
Finally, Julian gets on the well/drum with her. He thinks he'll finally have sex with her but, no. He realizes that's not what she's offering. She wants him to join her in "this ritual" which is a glimpse of her true spirit. So, he starts to do what she's doing.
He starts to sweat, so takes off his shirt. She puts her bear and cougar tooth necklace on him.

Until now, that cougar that she had stopped him from killing (that later attacked the two boys) had been between them.

But now, it "binds us in his beauty and his rage."
They dance, finally collapse, and sleep (no sex).
Back at the house, it is clear that Jamie is gonna die of a broken spirit, even though everybody (including Saylah) is pleading with him not to give in to that pain.

Later, Saylah tells Julian about Salish ways of understanding death. Again, Ms. Davis: what is your source?
Julian notices that she said "they" and not "we." He understands she's been in pain all this time, too. They kiss but she resists the emotions she feels. Julian tells her she's like Jamie (broken).
In the next chapter, it is nighttime and Edward is having a nightmare. He wakes. Sophia reaches for him but he takes off, down the stairs, out the door, and sure enough, the Indian girl is there, waiting for him. This girl is Salish, too, but to him she has no name.
Saylah knows her, and that her name is Alida (this was earlier in the book). She's described throughout as "girl" but I don't think she's a girl. She's a woman. So, why "Indian girl" over and over?

Anyway, after they have sex she says she's leaving and that...
... she wants him to know her name. She used to feel pleasure when she was with him but lately, she feels more pity than pleasure. She's determined to leave. He tells her that he'll tell her what he did to Jamie if she'll stay.
She isn't going to stay but thinks it will help him with the guilt he carries. So (sigh), she sits crossed legged beside him.
She doesn't stay.

Back at the Ivy house, a priest is there now to give Jamie last rites. Saylah's not cool with it. The priest tells them that Jamie has sins that have to be cleansed so he has a chance to enter heaven.

Saylah tells the priest his religion is strange.
Then she tells him about "the world of the Salish." She challenges him over and over on Catholicism and the family asks him to leave.

I bet ignorant readers think that's a great scene but they likely don't recognize the noble savage stereotyping throughout, and here, too.
Whiteness tends to think of Native ppl as blood-thirsty savages (negative stereotype) or tragic, wise ones (positive stereotype). The latter is the "noble savage" that you see in some mascots, and in "big Indian" statues or "end of the trail" images.
Ppl tend to think that romantic stereotypes are good--but they aren't. That is something that people need reject. Negative or positive stereotypes are STILL stereotypes that obscure who we are, as people.
Ah, now, this next scene is interesting. Julian is worried because the priest cursed his dad (Jamie). But, Jamie tells him that's an overzealous priest and that others are ok. He talks about the ones that gave comfort to Julian's mom (Simone).
Later when Julian and Saylah talk, Julian tells her he hates priests because one took his mother away (literally). Whenever they were around, he says, his mother's joy was gone.

Jamie is dying and tells Saylah he no longer believes in his own faith. Now, he believes in her.
Alida and Saylah--both created as Salish women (by Davis)--to give comfort to white folks.
Jamie dies. At his burial, Saylah sings a song. Is it supposed to be a Salish song, translated into English? Or is it something Davis made up?

Native songs are sung in Native languages. Many (most?) songs are composed, in large measure, of vocables rather than a words.
A few days later, she tells Flora and Theron she wants to burn cedar to cleanse the house of ghosts. They don't want to do that but she persuades them it is a good thing to do. Then she sings and waves singed cedar boughs around.

Sigh (again).
Almost done! At the 90% mark of this book.

Saylah and Julian are in the forest. He tells her he loves her; wants her to say it back but she doesn't want to because it'll make her feel vulnerable and open to hurt again like when her ppl turned away from her. She gives details:
‘But I should have been more. From the moment of my birth,
He realizes she's Tanu. "You were their queen."

He tells her they needed her to be that for them, and that he needed her to be"a gift from God" for him. But now, he sees her as a woman who is dear to him, not for her magic or wisdom but for her heart.
All through this scene she can hear drums pounding (in her head) and an ancient song. They are loud "endless, throbbing drums." But then, the song ends and the drums fade.

She goes to him and says "I am Saylah. And I love you."
They return to the house. The next morning she wakes and looks at Julian, thinking that if she chooses him, she has to chose his world, too. "the white world, the world of the Strangers."
In the final chapter Saylah goes back to her ppl. She doesn’t see them for real. She falls asleep and the Salish guy who had wanted to marry her finds her. She doesn’t wake but there’s communication going on. He releases her and she goes back to Julian. End of story.
I guess they will marry in the sequel. I will pull all these tweets into a blog post as a record of what I said and try to make some overall observations that I hope will be helpful to writers, editors, reviewers... no matter the genre.
Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh.

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