I ♥ Research

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Menominee Reservation

An hour’s drive outside of Green Bay, nestled amid towering pines, lies an unassuming building. Casting shadows on the log facade, three flags dance in the wind – the stars and strips of Old Glory, the blue banner of Wisconsin, and a red and white flag bearing the great seal of the Menominee Nation. Ostensibly, my husband and I traveled to Wisconsin to attend the Oneida pow-wow (an annual event my husband, an Oneida himself, hates to miss). But for me, the visit to this remote reservation is the highlight of my trip.

Some authors dread the tedium of fact-finding for the novels. I love it. Maybe that’s why I’m drawn to historical fiction. Like no other, this genre has the ability to flesh out those dry events I studied in school, making them relevant, personal, and evocative. This communion with the past, in turn, shapes the way I view the present. It gives me a more nuanced, empathetic outlook.

I hope to bring this experience to my readers with my next novel—a historical fiction recounting the Native American boarding school experience of the 1880s. I want to give voice to those students who endured this experiment in cultural extermination.

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Bear Totem at the Menominee Cultural Museum

And truth is the foundation that makes this experience possible. I’ve logged countless hours at the UNLV library reading personal accounts and histories. I’ve sifted through numerous online resources and faded sepia photographs.

Last week, my research culminated in a trip to the Menominee Cultural Museum. A small, one-room building with 90% of it’s artifacts on loan from other museums, this site offered the perfect smorgasbord of information for my niche interests.

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Moccasins at the Menominee Cultural Museum

There’s only so much information I can glean from books. Squinting over a small picture of a pair of moccasins is nothing like seeing them in person. Behind their glass cases, the careful stitching and intricate bead-work pop before your eyes. The subtle wear of the leather breathes life and history into them. Even standing amid the dense, majestic forest sheltering the reservation elicits an awe impossible to recover from a glossy textbook.

This is why I love historical fiction and the research that underpins its greatness.

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8 thoughts on “I ♥ Research

  1. That’s such an interesting concept for a book! I took a history class on Native Americans a few years ago, and we watched a documentary about the boarding schools. It was really heartrending to hear excerpts from the diaries of some of the students, and a historical novel about the experience is definitely something I would like to read. Good luck with your research and writing!

    • Thanks! My mother-in-law got me interested in the subject. It is indeed heartrending. May of the teachers, superintendents, and political proponents had good intentions, but often flawed and racist outlooks about the Native Americans. I hope I can do the subject justice.

  2. Amanda! I love your blog! Congrats on being a writer! I’m attempting to do the same thing, only as an actress. I was actually thinking about you guys a lot because I spent July touring Wisconsin as Peter Pan and went to Menominee. Maybe we crossed paths! Hope you and Stephen are well.

    • Thank you so much Colleen. It’s so great to hear from you! I would have loved to see you play Peter Pan in WI. Please let me know if you ever come on tour here to Las Vegas. You were always such a talented performer. I still remember those striped socks you wore for our acting class audition. Best of luck–er–break a leg, I mean. 😉 Keep in touch!

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