It’s November! I can’t believe it! And we’re down to our final Smithsonian Heritage Month! Wow. So, it’s been a process this year, and … yes. I’ve loved learning more about authors though, and I’m glad I did this. Today to kick off Native American Heritage Month we have Isobel Carr! She writes historical romances. So everyone please give her a warm welcome. Especially as our first SAIHM guest!
Native American Heritage Month. Hmmm. I always feel a bit conflicted about these things, not because I think celebrating culture is bad, but because as an “Urban Indian”, I don’t really fit into the box the world has made for me (and I don’t want to!). I find it disturbing and insulting that when I fill out the census (good thing for my blood pressure that it’s only once a decade) that I’m confronted with a definition of my “race” that has nothing to do with my actual blood (half white, one quarter Cherokee, one quarter Oglala Sioux), it’s all about whether or not I “maintain cultural and religious ties” with my tribe/s. Um, no, no I don’t. I’m thousands of miles and two generations away from either of them. But that doesn’t change who and what I *am* (at least not IMO).
Urban Indians are something America doesn’t really acknowledge or know what to do with (but if you go out to Alcatraz on Indigenous People Day (aka Columbus Day to many of you), you’ll see hundreds of Urban Indians from all over the Bay Area (and often all over the country) assembled for a mini-Pow Wow and celebration of the occupation of Alcatraz and the spark it ignited among Indigenous people all over the nation. Much of the activism from the 1970s onward was an outgrowth of those people on that tiny island, and it’s a piece of American history I would greatly encourage everyone to be familiar with.
Anyone who is familiar with me and my books knows that I don’t draw upon my heritage as inspiration for my writing (at least not directly). I write Georgian set historicals more directly related to my Caucasian roots (English, Scottish, and Welsh on that side, mostly). But I do think being bi-racial influences my writing all the same. I’ve had a bi-racial hero (Gabriel in LORD SCANDAL, who’s half Turkish like my college BFF), and I’m drawn to and very aware of all the people of color who peppered Georgian England. There were thousands of free blacks in England, many acting as servants, others making their way as business owners, pugilists, clergymen, you name it. There was a Jewish quarter in London with deep roots in the city, and which produced very important historical figures such as Benjamin Disraeli. There were Asian people of various ethnicities, inducing a Chinese dock owner in London (I’ve been trying to find out more about him!) and an established East Indian population that ran quite a few public bath houses in London and offered “shampoos” (massages), as well as many, many Anglo-Indians, some of whom were members of the ton. I try to weave all of this into my books, because as a displaced urban person of color, I think it’s important to acknowledge that these people existed and that their lives and presence were a part of the place and time in which my books take place.
About the Author: Isobel Carr is the best-selling author of the Georgian-set League of Second Sons series. She grew up participating in a wide variety of historical reenactment clubs, which has given her an unusually personal perspective on history, along with a deep knowledge of the history of clothing. Currently, she lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her Neapolitan Mastiff, Clancy, in a 1916 bungalow that she has no time to restore. You can find out more about Isobel on her website, Twitter: @IsobelCarr, FaceBook.
Welcome Isobel! It’s great to have you here and I’m super surprised to find that your other half is Native American. I do think that having those checked boxes to indicate who you are have both pros and cons and can definitely be an issue.
It’s great you’re pulling and looking at all these different persons of color and adding them into your stories.