When it comes to writing fiction with Native characters, authors face a challenging minefield and no clear answers. But through the “Fiction Writing: American Indians” online course, authors are equipped to write authentic stories that honor First American history and culture.
“I was searching for deeper understanding of various Native American cultures and the pitfalls to avoid when writing them. I've done a LOT of research and read a lot of firsthand accounts, but there's still so much I need to learn. It was so helpful to hear the "inside perspective" on what American Indians prefer when it comes to describing and interacting with them. Also, hearing the main stereotypes described will make it much easier to avoid them than when they were vague ideas that "didn't feel right" in writing. Thank you so much for putting together this course!”
USA Today Bestselling Author of the Call of the Rockies series
"I have a better awareness of how I should portray First Americans in my writing. I fully understand that to get an accurate portrayal that it will require a lot of hard work through researching many different resources. Sarah presented her information in layman's terms. Although there was a lot of information I was able to follow with ease. I truly appreciate her passion for her Choctaw heritage and her writing. It's an inspiration to me to finish that project I am working on right now. Finish strong—Hlampko hosh tahli."
author of The Running Moon
"The course is comprehensive and clear cut. Most valuable for me was the module on stereotyping. I thought I knew all of them and it's helpful to hear of others I wasn't aware of. They were explained well, and I want to continue to represent as a writer and try to put more First American work out when possible given the proper guidelines and respect. Thank you so much!"
tabletop roleplay games creator
What is the correct way to refer to the first people of the land? The many terms and how to use them correctly.
Lesson 1: "Indians"
Lesson 2: "American Indian, Native American"
Lesson 3: "Native, Indigenous"
Lesson 4: General Terms
Lesson 5: "First Americans," Preferred Terms
Historical and Present Day Issues
Natives have undergone hard historical and present-day experiences, and the impacts are still felt today. This module helps you understand several of those.
Appropriation vs. Appreciation
The problems with appropriation instead of appreciation often comes from a lack of information and education. Learn the differences and embrace ways of appreciation before you begin writing or revising your story.
Stereotypes — Identifying and Overcoming Them (multi-lesson module)
This module includes, yet greatly expands on, the ebook "5 Stereotypes to Avoid When Writing about Native Americans" with examples in today’s culture of continued stereotypes.
Lesson 1: Stoicism
Lesson 2: Writing Dialogue
Lesson 3: Indian Scout Syndrome
Lesson 4: Wise Guide
Lesson 5: Noble Savage
Lesson 6: Cartoon Indians
Lesson 7: Slangs and Slurs
Lesson 8: Skin Color
Lesson 9: Lifeways
Lesson 10: Native Spirituality
Lesson 11: Character Names
Lesson 12: Historical-only View
Advantages and Pitfalls in Resources
Here, we explore researching First Americans, but it's more than that. Your mindset and approach is as important as the material you’re consuming.
Lesson 1: Books
Lesson 2: Interviews
Lesson 3: Cultural Experts
Lesson 4: Legends and Lore
Lesson 5: Native Events
Lesson 6: Sacred Connections
Lesson 7: Historians, Museums, Archives
Lesson 8: Online Sources
Lesson 9: Native Name Spelling
Accuracy—The Vital Balance
As fiction authors, we make up a lot of stuff. Dialogue. Towns. Compressed timelines. But how should you approach “making up stuff” about Native characters and events?
Lesson 1: Based on True Events
Lesson 2: Fictionalized Characters and Plots
Lesson 3: Blending True and Fictional
Lesson 4: A Thread of True Inspiration
Becoming a Trusted Author
It takes time, diligence, and more, but you can become a trusted author of Native culture and history. I show you a real world example in this module.
Networking with Native Writers
We explore the reality of the challenge, but also practical ways you can approach building relationships with Native and non-Native authors.
Traditional or independent publishing? What I chose and why, and what might be right for you.
Setting You on Your Own Path
Bringing it all together with final encouragement for you to write authentic stories that honor First American history and culture.
Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer is a story archaeologist. She digs up shards of past lives, hopes, and truths, and pieces them together for readers today.
As a tribal member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, she has written and published 15 historical fiction books with Native main characters, and over 275 non-fiction articles on Native artists and organizations with representatives from dozens of North American tribes. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian honored her as a literary artist through their Artist Leadership Program for her work in preserving Choctaw Trail of Tears stories, and she is a First Peoples Fund Artist in Business Leadership alumni.
Through her in-depth course, “Fiction Writing: American Indians,” authors are equipped to write authentic stories that honor First American history and culture.
Get a jumpstart in your journey by downloading 5 Stereotypes to Avoid When Writing about Native Americans.
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