So when one of my first readers for Dancing on Coals was so intrigued by the story she surfed the web, looked at photos of Apaches from those days, and called me and said, “They’re not very good looking, are they?” she made me laugh.
My guess is the percentage of knock your socks off good-looking people in every group is about the same—and never very high. In an Author’s Note at the end of Dancing, I mentioned that what inspired the story was a sketch of Victorio, Chief of the Warm Springs or Mimbreño Apaches. The image here is the one I originally saw. This sketch, drawn in pencil from life, is the only image of Victorio ever made, but several different versions of it can be found on the Internet.
When I was researching for Dancing, I came across one version that had the light gone from the eyes. Everything that attracted me disappeared with that light. When Regan Walker posted a review of Dancing on her blog, she found a colorized version of the sketch, and it too killed everything that originally appealed to me. The version here is the one I first saw and never forgot, and I believe it’s a true copy of the original sketch.
In my research I came across a sentence that slapped me with the reality of the depth of racial prejudice of the times. I didn’t write it down exactly, but from memory: “This is a photo of Naiche, the son of Cochise the Apaches consider handsome.” I don’t know about you, but while someone could certainly say, "I prefer blonds," or pug noses or whatever, anyone being honest would have to admit Naiche was handsome—very handsome—and like his father, he was that romance hero 6 feet tall.
These photographs and the sketch are all in the public domain.