It is inconceivable to me that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott would do what California Gov. Gavin Newsom just did: issue by executive order an official apology on behalf of the citizens of California for a history of “violence, maltreatment and neglect” against Native Americans. (Los Angeles Times, June 19, 2019.) It is also inconceivable to me that the Amarillo Globe-News would do what the Los Angeles Times just did: publish an editorial challenging the City Council to likewise issue an apology for its complicity in the genocide to which Gov. Newsom refers in the text of his apology. (Los Angeles Times, June 21, 2019.)
My romance novel series, Once Upon a Time in the Texas Panhandle, is based on my personal experiences growing up in Texas during the 1940s through the 1960s. But underlying my stories is the objective history of Texas and the Texas Panhandle. I have been shocked by what I have discovered about Native Americans in the state. A large part of my shock comes from the realization that Texans remain adamantly in denial about what happened: genocide, trails of tears, bounty hunters, removal to reservations (“concentration camps”?).
It was easier for Gov. Newsom to issue his official apology. He was able to do so at the annual meeting in Sacramento of 100 tribal leaders from all over the state. Gov. Abbott would be hard pressed to find even a handful of such leaders—Texas did a more compete job of hunting down and disappearing the state’s red-skin savages.
My romance novels are not intended to rewrite history. They are love stories. But when they involve characters who are Native American, I tell it like it was—not like Texas novelists and Texas historians have told it to this day. I won’t name names or titles of books published in Texas and written by Texans, which continue to do what was done until recently in California: lie and deny.
The California governor is also calling for the formation of a “Truth and Healing Council” to hear testimony and clarify the historical record on the relationship between the state and California Native Americans and publish an official report. The Council will include delegates from the state’s tribes. The governor has said that the Council would also provide a forum to discuss future steps towards issuing reparations to California Native Americans.
It is inconceivable to me that such a Truth and Healing Council would ever be formed by the State of Texas. My series of romance novels probably provide the closest thing to a draft report clarifying the historical record on the relationship between the State of Texas and the state’s Native Americans.
My novels are hopeful. Despite the long history of atrocities in Texas, my stories show that it is possible for the state’s Native Americans to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles to falling in love, and thereby be able to live happily ever after.