I’ve told many that my paranormal historical trilogy, Spirit of the Mountain, Spirit of the Lake, and Spirit of the Sky were the books of my heart. I just didn’t realize how long my interest and admiration for the Wallowa Nez Perce has been inside of me. While helping clean up my dad’s house, I found paintings of Native American people that I'd painted in my early teens. These books are a re-release with new covers and refreshed writing.
My Spirit Trilogy is about a trio of Nez Perce siblings from a band that lived far north and who had blond hair and blue eyes. In my research I discovered there was such a band of Nimiipuu (the name the Nez Perce call themselves). And there were members of this band in the Wallowa band. The Creator made these siblings into spirits after their father had caused the warriors in their band to die.Their duties were to oversee the Lake Nimiipuu or the band of Nez Perce who spent their winters and summers in the NE corner of Oregon in the Wallowa country. The area where I grew up.
To write the books I did a lot of research. I devoted many hours to reading books about the Nez Perce customs and social living aspects to learn all I could about family life, pregnancy, and child birth.
The Nez Perce women had specific jobs. They gathered roots, berries and herbs as well as the firewood. It was their job to keep the fire going all night during the winter months. They were the cooks; the ones who dried and stored the meat, fish, berries, and roots. From a young age they learned to tan hides, make clothing, weave baskets, and construct the dwellings. They did everything needed to sustain a family other than hunt, prepare weapons, and fight. If need be, they could hunt for small animals, fight, and take care of weapons though it was not one of their jobs. You could say the women were more well-rounded than the men in their duties. The villages could continue to thrive when the men went on hunts that kept them away for months at a time.
During battles, the women provided fresh horses, food, and water for the warriors, tended the wounded, warned others of danger, directed children and the old people where to hide, and how to leave when their encampments were attacked. If a husband was shot, they could pick up his gun and fight. They also cooked and gathered wood during attacks, keeping the children, old people, and warriors fed during the battles.
Pregnant women still did most of the chores right up until they started labor. Some would have miscarriages from long periods of riding horses in the last months of pregnancy—usually during campaigns of fighting.
If a woman was pregnant they believed their man would have bad luck hunting. She was also not allowed to see any part of a kill—blood, skinning. They feared her child would be born deformed. They also didn't touch, view, or ridicule any deformed animals or humans, fearing it would cause their child the same misfortune. They didn't tie knots or do things symbolic of obstructing the birth.
A wide strip of buckskin was tied around their bellies. This was believed to protect the child. After the birth, this strip was burned or buried, giving the child a healthy, strong body. They did everything to keep the baby safe. The Nez Perce wanted to build a large, strong tribe.
When a woman started labor she was isolated in a small dwelling with either an older family member or a mid-wife. If there were complications the Ti-wet (medicine man) was called in. The dwelling had a hole dug in the middle of the structure. The blood and afterbirth were put in this hole and buried. The umbilical cord was kept in a small, leather pouch attached to the cradle board. It is believed to be bad luck to destroy such an intimate part of the baby.
The cradle board was made by a relative. The baby was transported and tended in the board until ready to walk. Children were breast fed for several years. This was one of their ways to contribute to birth control. Other ways were with herbs.
I used all of this information in the three books. It was essential to me to show the culture and lives of this interesting group of people.
Blurb for Spirit of the Mountain
Wren, the daughter of a Nimiipuu chief, loves the mountain and her people—the Lake Nimmipuu. When a warrior from the enemy Blackleg tribe asks for her hand in marriage to bring peace between the tribes, she knows it is how she must fulfill her vision quest. But she is torn between duty and her breaking heart.
Himiin, as spirit of the mountain, watches over all the creatures on his mountain, including the Nimiipuu. When Wren shows no fear of him as a white wolf, he listens to her secret fears and loses his heart to the mortal maiden. Respecting her people’s beliefs, he must watch her leave the mountain with the Blackleg warrior.
When an evil spirit threatens Wren’s life, Himiin rushes to save her. But to leave the mountain means he’ll turn to smoke…
Blurb for Spirit of the Lake
Can a spirit set upon this earth to see to the good of the Nimiipuu stay true to justice when revenge burns in his heart?
Wewukiye, the lake spirit, saves a Nimiipuu maiden from drowning and bringing shame to herself and her family. Learning her people ignored her accusations against a White man who took her body, leaving her pregnant,Wewukiye vows to help her through the birth and to prove the White man’s deceit.
Dove slowly heals her heart and her distrust as Wewukiye, the warrior with hair the color of the sun, believes in her and helps her restore her faith in her people and herself.
On their quest for justice, Dove reveals spiritual abilities, ensnaring Wewukiye’s respect and awe. But will these abilities seal their future or tear them apart?
Blurb Spirit of the Sky
Sa-qan, a Nimiipuu eagle spirit, must take a human form to save her mortal niece when the Nimiipuu are forced from their land by the U.S. Army. Sa-qan strives to remain true to her spirit world and her people, but finding an ally in a Cavalry Officer has unraveled her beliefs.
During battle with the Nimiipuu, Lt. Wade Watts finds a blonde woman hiding a Nez Perce child. He believes she is a captive when her intelligent eyes reveal she understands his language. Yet she refuses his help. Their paths cross several times during the skirmishes, and she becomes his savior when renegade warriors wound him.
Award-winning author Paty Jager and her husband raise alfalfa hay in rural eastern Oregon. On her road to publication she wrote freelance articles for two local newspapers and enjoyed her job with the County Extension service as a 4-H Program Assistant. Raising hay and cattle, riding horses, and battling rattlesnakes, she not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it.
Her first book was published in 2006 by Wild Rose Press since then she has published seventeen novels, two anthologies, and five novellas. All her work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters. Her penchant for research takes her on side trips that eventually turn into yet another story.
You can learn more about Paty at her blog; Writing into the Sunset her website; http://www.patyjager.net or on Facebook; https://www.facebook.com/#!/paty.jager , Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1005334.Paty_Jager and twitter; @patyjag.
Sources: Nez Perce Women in Transition, 1877-1990- Caroline James
NeeMePoo – Allen P. Slickpoo Sr. and Deward E. Walker Jr.