I moved to Cedar City, Utah in February of 2010, and on one of my first jaunts out of town, I went to the Parowan Gap to see the ancient petroglyphs. As a descendant of the Cherokee tribe, I have always been interested in Native American culture and studied as much as I could get my hands on as a child.
Driving up to the Gap, I saw an array of rock faces carved with many stories, which I knew must contain a wealth of information. The plaque at the site said these petroglyphs were left by the Fremont Indians 1000 years ago. I wondered. At that stage I had never heard of the Fremont Indians (ridiculously named after the US explorer John C. Fremont, 1813-1890).
As I stood in front of the Zipper Glyph (picture below), the spirit of the creator moved me. I could feel my heart thudding against my chest and a tingling up my spine, almost a floating sensation. I could not believe that something this magnificent rested in our own backyard, and yet the Fremont remained obscure. I had to tell the world about this place, and I had to do it with a story that expressed respect and honor of their culture and intelligence. I felt it was my responsibility to bring to life their mystical religion and love of Mother Earth.
I couldn't understand how a gift from our ancestors would be allowed to slough off in the sun, only protected by a five-foot chain-link fence on one side of the road, and exposed to the public on another. At the time I did not understand the interpretation of the panels, but the spirit told me that they were critically important to our ancestors, and the ground at Parowan Gap was sacred.
I shot photographs of every panel of petroglyphs I could find, and went back to Cedar and purchased books about petroglyphs, especially The Parowan Gap by V. Garth Norman, archaeologist. I traveled to the Fremont Indian State Park, visiting the glorious walls of petroglyphs and their lovely museum, and got to climb down into a pit house, which helped me envision what it would be like to live in one.
All along I was dreaming about a boy named Koicto, and though he had no idea, his life was on a precipice of greatness. Studying about the descendant tribes, I created his vision quest and led him to his first meeting with his spirit cougar, Kitchi. It is is a coming-of-age historical novel where Koicto must overcome and conquer the harsh realities of life in 885 A.D.
....His village burned, his father murdered, his woman taken. If he fails, the Nahchee will be no more.
Boy Man Chief won the Utah League of Writers Award for Best Manuscript (2011), and the St. George Book Festival's Spark Book Award (2011). I want to share it with the world.
|The Zipper Glyph - Parowan Gap, Utah|