Once, when I was just twenty, and fresh out of the military, I was given the opportunity of being the Tribal Historian for a confederacy of Indian tribes. It would have meant traveling with the itinerant medicine man and his beautiful teenaged daughter (who, the first time I saw her, was wearing a tan, buckskin skirt and whose black hair sported two braids with an actual feather, for God’s sake, tethered to each), to the various reservations across the U.S., compiling mountains of notes, learning –- as the medicine man promised I would learn –- and later documenting for posterity the true story of the American Indian.
But, I was a lad of twenty. I allowed my mother to talk me out of it. She told me they would kill me and steal my money.
One of my major regrets... But it might go far to explain my interest in the history, the myth and, above all, the romance of the American Indian.
Lest we forget, The Dead Of Winter is first and foremost a novel –- a tale, whose telling meanders at times on that magical landscape where history, myth and legend meld. So, for any reader who is also an historian of the Chumash People, just relax and enjoy it for what it is. You may, if you wish, interrupt your reading now and again with: “It is just fiction. It is not history. It is just a story.”
Because, that is all it purports to be.