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Read ‘Winter Counts’ — A Lakota Thriller

Posted By BrittanyLCerny August 10th, 2021 Last Updated on: November 10th, 2021

Now that summer is winding down, it's time to pass that beach book along to a friend and pick up something with more substance. If you’re eyeing something more informative, thrilling, and poignant, then “Winter Counts” needs to be added to your “must-read” list ASAP.

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Here is a brief summary of the award-winning book. 



“Virgil Wounded Horse is the local enforcer on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota.  When justice is denied by the American legal system or the tribal council, Virgil is hired to deliver his own punishment, the kind that’s hard to forget. But when heroin makes its way into the reservation and finds Virgil’s own nephew, his vigilantism suddenly becomes personal. He enlists the help of his ex-girlfriend and sets out to learn where the drugs are coming from, and make them stop.

They follow a lead to Denver and find that drug cartels are rapidly expanding and forming new and terrifying alliances.  And back on the reservation, a new tribal council initiative raises uncomfortable questions about money and power. As Virgil starts to link the pieces together, he must face his own demons and reclaim his Native identity. He realizes that being a Native American in the 21st century comes at an incredible cost.

Image Credit / David Weiden

David Heska Wanbli Weiden is the Lakota author of “Winter Counts,” which was published in 2020, has won many awards for his work. 


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These include:

  • Winner of the Barry Award for Best First Novel
  • Winner of the Thriller Award for Best First Novel
  • Winner of the Spur Awards for Best Contemporary Novel and Best First Novel
  • Winner of the Lefty Award for Best Debut Mystery Novel
  • Winner of the Tillie Olsen Award for Creative Writing

“Winter Counts” was also rated as the best book of 2020 by the following: Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, NPR, Amazon, Sun-Sentinel, BOLO Books, Deadly Pleasures, CrimeReads, LitReactor, The Buzz, SheReads, Tribal College Journal, Air Mail, MysteryPeople, Goodreads

Weiden is not only a proud Native, but he is also a professor of Native American Studies and Criminal Law at Metropolitan State University, which has helped him with the historical aspects of the book.

PowWows.com Interview of David Heska Weiden




This isn’t Weiden’s first published book focusing on Native America. 

The biography for young readers, “Spotted Tail,” was published in 2019 and was named as one of the best books of 2019 by American Indians in Children's Literature. Chief Spotted Tail is a famous Lakota leader from the past who did influential things for Indigenous people during a difficult time. 

What is next for Weiden? We’ll have to follow him and wait to see. 

Purchase “Winter Counts” on Amazon or at Barnes and Noble and begin reading. 

Follow David Heska Wanbli Weiden on Instagram and Twitter today! And check out his website: DavidWeiden.com.

Did you know that “Winter Counts” refers to a calendar system used by the Lakota?

Watch a brief clip from experts at the Smithsonian, who describe the Lakota tradition of recording events.

 

Transcript

Speaker 1:
Welcome to Pow Wow Life Podcast from PowWows.com. Connecting you as a native culture since 1996. Here's your host, Paul Gowder.

Paul Gowder:
Welcome back to another episode of the Pow Wow Life Podcast. I am your host, Paul Gowder from PowWows.com. Thank you, thank you for being here for another episode.

Paul Gowder:
This week, I've got an interview with David Weiden, who is an author who's just published a book called Winter Counts. It is a crime drama that is super fun to read. Really pulls you in and captivates you and tell some stories with using things that are happening in Indian country that is really fun to listen to. I'm listening to it already, but on an audio book. So listen to it. You can also, of course, buy the book. You'll find out more about that in his interview, so stay tuned for that, but I do have a couple of announcements.

Paul Gowder:
First, be sure you are subscribed to the podcast, whether it's on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Stitcher, or however you get your podcasts, be sure to subscribe. So you'll get notified of all the latest episodes coming out and we've got some great episodes coming soon. Sneak peak, I've got an interview with Mike Bone. That's a Lil Mike and Funny Bone. The rappers you probably saw them on America's Got Talent a few years ago.

Paul Gowder:
Now they are stars in the new hit show on Hulu, Reservation Dogs. And if you haven't seen reservation dogs, what are you doing? don't do it now, but when you're done with the podcast, go watch it on Hulu. It's an awesome show and so we got Mike Bone is going to be on an episode here soon, and we just interviewed Taboo from Black Eyes Peas, so I'm working on that to have it on the podcast really soon.

Paul Gowder:
He is super fun to talk to. And I know you've seen him. He's has been involved with standing rock. He recently just published a book as well, and he's of course all over Indian country doing some incredible stuff. So stay tuned for an interview with Taboo.

Paul Gowder:
Also, in case you didn't know, this is 25th anniversary of PowWows.com. I started this thing in 1996 and thanks to you out there, PowWows.com has had an incredible 25 years and I cannot wait to see what's going to happen in the next 25, but to celebrate it, we're giving away 25 Pendleton blankets and you can enter to win that just by going over to www.PowWows.com/25, that's the number's 2, 5. Head on over there and you can enter. Don't forget to enter daily for more chances to win. We're going to give those blankets away at the end of September. So be sure to enter, don't miss your chance to win one of these blankets and listen to the end of this podcast while I'll have a special bonus code for just you all listening to the podcast. Only you all can get that. So be sure to stay tuned for that.

Paul Gowder:
All right. So let me tell you about David Weiden. He is published some other things before, but this book has really hit hard and is just blowing up. Critics love it. Readers are loving it and I'm loving it. It is really fun to listen to, and if you're interested in downloading it or purchasing it, however you want to get the book, please head over to www.PowWows.com/wintercounts, all one word lowercase. Winter Counts. And that will take you straight to the book on Amazon, where you can download it on your Kindle, your audio book, or buy the book. And don't forget if you use that link, Amazon will give us a small commission, so I really appreciate your support on that. Doesn't cost you anything extra, but gives us a little bit extra.

Paul Gowder:
So www.Powwows.com/wintercounts. So hope you enjoy the interview and stay tuned afterwards for that bonus code. Thank you again so much for listening out. Hope you enjoy the interview and I'll talk to you in just a minute.

Paul Gowder:
Good evening, everybody. Thank you for tuning in again. This week, we have another guests on the show that I'm super excited about. We have an author whose book is exploding all over social media and in the literary critics, he is just getting his name out there. It's amazing to see what is happening with all the buzz around his book already. So David Weiden, thank you so much for being here.

David Weiden:
Thank you so much. I should point out that my full name is David Heska Wanbli Weiden. And so Heska Wanbli is my native spirit name that was given to me at ceremony. If anybody's confused, I do right under David Heska Wanbli Weiden but thank you so much. It's really my honor to be here.

Paul Gowder:
Yeah. Thank you. So, your book, Winter Counts, just came out and before we get to the book, I'm super excited to talk about that.

Paul Gowder:
My day job, I work in offshoot of law enforcement. So I'm interested to hear the legal stuff in the book, but yeah, before we get to that, tell me a little bit about yourself and where you're from your background.

David Weiden:
I'm happy to. So, I'm from Denver, Colorado. I was born here, but I'm an enrolled citizen of the Sicangu Lakota nation. In English, it's the Rosebud Sioux tribe, but we prefer to go by our names, the Sicangu Lakota people. And I grew up in Denver, but my mom grew up on the Reservation. So I would spend many summers on the Reservation. So I kind of lived this life of city kid and then go to the Reservation. So I kind of had this dual existence. I should point out though that when I say city kid, I grew up in probably two of the roughest neighborhoods in Denver.

David Weiden:
I am absolutely a first-generation college student. I'm the first one in my family to graduate from college or write a book or do anything like that. But yeah, so I'm from Denver, I'm an enrolled citizen of the Sicangu Lakota nation. And I mean, I could say a little bit more. I went to the University of Colorado for my undergraduate work, but then I did… As a poor kid, I didn't want to stay poor. I remember growing up with not knowing if the lights were going to be turned off or if we were going to get evicted. And so I made the decision in college that I never wanted to go through that. So I ended up going to law school because I thought people will always need lawyers. So I kind of made this decision, I don't know that it was the right one or not, but I did go to law school at the University of Denver.

David Weiden:
I am an attorney. I don't practice anymore. I have donated quite a bit of legal time to the Denver Indian Family Resource Center. I was on the board of directors there for three years. We would enforce ICWA, the Indian Child Welfare Act and make sure that native kids, when they were adopted or fostered out, that it would be done the right way. So I don't really practice much anymore. My full-time job is I'm a professor of native American studies at Metropolitan State University of Denver.

David Weiden:
So I don't teach creative writing there. I teach lots of people about native issues, native laws, treaties, native American history. So I really, really loved that. But about 10 years ago, I decided to start writing and that kind of brings us to Winter Counts. So I'll stop there.

Paul Gowder:
Yeah. And this is your first book and it's already nominated for an Edgar Award. Congratulations on that. That's super exciting. Nasty. It's already getting attention, Oprah's already put it on one of her lists and it's getting a lot of buzz. So tell us, I guess, before we get too far into the book, I mean, how did you come about wanting to write a novel? I mean, how do you go from being an attorney to wanting to write a novel?

David Weiden:
I would love to talk about that. I do want to point out though that it's not technically my first book.

Paul Gowder:
Okay.

David Weiden:
I have a children's book out called A Spotted Tail. It is a middle grade book. It was released in 2019 by Raycraft books. It's a children's book, a picture book that details the life of chief Spotted Tail, who's a great leader of our nation. So I am a father. I've got two boys they're 16 and 14, but when they were smaller, we didn't have any kids books for the Sicangu Lakota people are great leaders.

David Weiden:
We had kids books for Sitting Bull and Jeronimo and crazy horse, but there was not one for Spotted Tail, who's the truly the great leader of our nation. So I saw a call for children's books in about 2018 and Raycraft books took a chance on me. And so it's a gorgeous book. It was illustrated by a native artist and I love the book. It's not easy to find in stores, but you can get it online. And I want to point out that I made no money from the book. I took my cut and I bought hundreds of author copies, and I have sent a copy of that book, Spotted Tail, to every single elementary school in library on all of the Lakota reservations, because I want that book to be in the hands of native children.

David Weiden:
So Spotted Tail is truly, I suppose, my first creative work. So to get to your question, so how did I come? So here's the book. Again, I know that some folks are listening just to the audio only, but I'm holding up the paperback version of Winter Counts for those who are who's are listening.

David Weiden:
Here's the hardcover version that came out actually about 10 months ago. And there's even… This is the version that will come out in England in September. So, in the United Kingdom, this is the version. For those who can't see, the United Kingdom version of Winter Counts has a gorgeous cover. Now it's the photo is actually from Pine Ridge. So it's not from Rosebud. It's of the Badlands and the Badlands. They're very, very striking. And so I did tell my publisher, I said, “Look, that is a gorgeous photo. It's not actually of the Rosebud reservation”. but they're, “Well, if [inaudible 00:10:14] to gorgeous, we need to go with it”.

David Weiden:
So how did I write Winter Counts? Well, I've been teaching at the college level for about 20 years. I teach about the broken criminal justice system on native reservations. I teach about the treaties, almost all of which were broken by the US government. I teach about our healthcare system. You name it. If it has to do with native Americans, I teach it. But I've written a fair number of scholarly articles and such, and a handful of people would read those if I was lucky, but I've always loved fiction. I grew up fairly financially challenged and I've always loved fiction, but I just didn't know that I could ever write it. I didn't feel financially comfortable that I could take time off to write a book, but I finally decided about 10 years ago that I need to learn how to write fiction if I was going to do it, now's the time. Now is the time.

David Weiden:
And I knew what I wanted to write about. I wanted to write about the criminal justice system on reservations, because there are a number of laws passed by the US government that take away our sovereignty, our independence. One of these is the major crimes act, which I can talk about later. And a lot of folks don't know about these laws that really harm natives in terms of criminal justice, law enforcement. Criminal justice system and law enforcement.

David Weiden:
And so I wrote Winter Counts because I wanted to fictionalize this. And so it's the story of Virgil Wounded Horse, who is a hired vigilante, and we can come back to him, but essentially to kind of wrap up what you're asking me, I wrote the book to illustrate, hopefully in an entertaining way, what is going on on reservations, especially regarding truly the broken criminal justice system.

David Weiden:
So that in a nutshell is the Genesis of the novel Winter Counts.

Paul Gowder:
Okay. We recently did the show on Facebook where we were talking about missing and murdered indigenous women crisis. And we've had an attorney on the show before we talked about some of these legal issues. Reservation law, and tribal sovereignty law. It's complicated. So to tackle that and fiction. First, when I saw that, I was, wow, that's really good place to tackle it because maybe then you can actually set it up a scenario where people understand it, but it's complicated. So, how did you go about trying to tackle something so tough like that in a book?

David Weiden:
Great question. In a novel, I had to write… I had to walk a fine line when I was writing it. I had to walk a fine line because if I gave too much dry information, the book was going to sound like a textbook. It was going to read like a textbook and nobody was going to care about it.

David Weiden:
On the other hand, I felt a real duty to educate folks and to present the legal information correctly and accurately. So it really was a tight rope to get this information in there, but hopefully not in a boring way.

David Weiden:
You are absolutely right, Paul. Criminal justice on reservations is complicated because you have three different layers of law. You've got the Federal Law, State Law and Tribal Law, and who has jurisdiction depends on the crime, whether it's a felony or misdemeanor, what state it's in, where the crime occurred, did it occur on Reservation land or off Reservation land and who the victim and offenders were. So you've got all of these things working together that makes what we call jurisdiction, exceptionally complicated. Layered on top of that, is this thing called the Major Crimes Act.

David Weiden:
The major Crimes Act says that native American nations may not prosecute the most serious felony crimes that occur on native lands. So somebody abuses a child or harms a woman or harms a man, commits arson, and they catch the offender, tribal police officers. They have to call the US attorneys and the FBI and say, “Hey, it's a felony crime. We need you to come in here to our sovereign nation and prosecute these crimes”.

David Weiden:
Okay. Now fine and dandy. That's outrageous in and of itself because we, as sovereign nations, should have the authority to prosecute our own crimes. But making all of this worse is the fact that the FBI and US attorney's office are declining to prosecute about 30% to 40% percent of these felony crimes, even when the offender has been apprehended.

David Weiden:
So the offender is quite frequently released, and so a child abuser is free to go out and offend again. This is outrageous. It is absolutely outrageous. And so what is happening on some reservations is you have a private System of Justice. Hired vigilantes are springing up, and you can hire somebody to beat up somebody that hurt your child for a price. And that's the hero of this book. Virgil Wounded Horse is a hired vigilante. He will beat somebody up for you. He charges $100 dollars for each bone breaks and a hundred for each tooth he knocks out. So, I'm not the first person to write about hired vigilantes, Craig Johnson, who's a friend of mine, he's written about in the Longmire series released on the TV show. I think there's a Hector. So, I'm certainly not the first, but I do believe, in fact I know that I'm the first to make a hired vigilante, the protagonist or the hero, the main character of a novel.

David Weiden:
So all of that is to say there's a lot going on with criminal justice on native lands. And hopefully, I've done so in an entertaining, but also informative way.

Paul Gowder:
Yeah. The first thing I thought it was Hector. Well, I went right to that character and the people putting things in a jar and here's what I need you to go do. And being the secret vigilante of the reservation. Yeah, it's an interesting concept. And one that we shouldn't have to have.

Paul Gowder:
It's a sad thing that there's 30%, 40% percent of crimes, and that's part of contributing to the missing and murdered indigenous women and all these other things. It's… Yeah, it's terrible and definitely needs to change. But like you said, it's so layered and there's so much going on that there was just the… We also interviewed just about a year ago the producer from This Land podcast, which was looking at the tribal jurisdiction case that went into Supreme Court in Oklahoma. Same kind of things is who has jurisdictions on what land? Yeah. Tough things.

Paul Gowder:
But it's awesome that you've done that. I can't wait to dig into the book. So having said all that, you put out this complicated plot and apparently it's hitting and people are really finding entertaining. And I know for me, I never liked talking about awards or whatever, but you've gotten some pretty good nominations. So tell us a little bit about the Edgar Award, some of these other things you're running for now.

David Weiden:
Well, thank you kindly for those really, really nice words. I mean, I'm very humbled and I just want to say that I give all thanks for this, obviously to the creator and to my community, the Rosebud community has really supported me when I wrote the book. I'm not a fluent speaker of Lakota. I do my best, but I'm far from it. I went to the Reservation, I talked to some folks, they helped me. They're, “You've really botched a couple of words here”. So I want to give all thanks really to my community and my people, and my mentors who've helped me, but the book has been great.

David Weiden:
It's sold exceptionally well. And it's been nominated for, I think, 16 different awards, including what are called the big six of crime fiction awards, which are oh geez, the Edgar Award, which is for crime fiction folks, it's the Oscars, okay? The Anthony, the Berry, the Hamad prize. I don't know them all. I've won some, I've lost some. I won the thriller award, which is a big one. The Lefty, the Spur Award for the best Western Novel of the Year and the Tillie Olsen Award and the Anthony Award and some of the others will be determined in late August, but I'm just grateful that people are reading it, really.

David Weiden:
The awards are nice. I'm not going to lie, but you know what's great is I get dozens of letters and emails of people saying, I love the book. It spoke to me. One young Lakota woman sent me a video crying saying, finally, I feel seen, I feel recognized. And thank you for writing this book.

David Weiden:
So those letters and those acknowledgements mean far more to me than any of the awards, but yes, I am for the record books, the first native American to be nominated, I believe for an Anthony. The first native American to win the Thriller, the Lefty, and only the second native American in a hundred years author to be nominated for the Edgar. The first native American author was Martin Cruz Smith, who is a great thriller writer. He wrote something called Gorky Park and he's at Weblo. And so I feel really honored to follow in his footsteps to be only the second native ever to be nominated for the Edgar Award. It's really overwhelming.

Paul Gowder:
Yeah. And congratulations, and something we've talked about on this show several times with other guests just recently is representation in different fields matters. And there aren't a lot of mainstream native literature or native authors.

Paul Gowder:
I was super excited just a couple of years ago when Tommy Orange is his book kind of hit the buzz and people really picked up on that. And there it does, but it doesn't happen very often. So, for you coming up as a writer, who did you look to? Who were your role models and what authors were you reading and getting inspiration from?

David Weiden:
Well, let me just say, first of all, Tommy Orange is a friend of mine. We've hung out a couple of times. He's a great writer. If folks haven't read There There, you should run out and get it. And I'm delighted to know that he's got another book coming out. I think it's called wandering stars. I'm not a hundred percent sure. And I think that's coming out next year.

David Weiden:
Tommy's a great guy. We went to the same writing program. I graduated in creative writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, which is where a lot of great native writers are coming out of. Terese Mailhot, Tommy. There are lots of folks that are just kind of flocking to that school. And that's where I did my training in creative writing. And I want to say Paul, something you said really resonated with me and that's representation matters.

David Weiden:
Natives, there've been a handful or, several dozen, I think really important native writers people really pay attention to that but there haven't been as many in what we call genre literature. Genre meaning crime, science fiction, all of these fields that sometimes you're viewed as not as serious, but the books that people actually love to read.

David Weiden:
And, there have not been a great number of native American crime writers. I've mentioned Martin Cruz Smith, but his last books in our reservation was in the 1970s. There's Marcie Rendon, who's a friend of mine who's doing some great stuff. There just aren't a ton. And so I'm hoping that I can set an example for anybody listening to this. If you're writing, I want you to tell your story. Tell your story to realize that we all have a story to tell. And if you want to tell a crime story or a science fiction or a fantasy or a romance, you should do that. Don't think that you're going to be looked down on. We're really in the middle right now of a native American literature Renaissance because all sorts of writers are coming up.

David Weiden:
Now, who did I look up to when I was growing up? Growing up, we grew up so poor, we didn't even have a library within driving distance, but there was something called the Bookmobile, which would come to my school. You remember the bookmobile?

Paul Gowder:
Yeah. Yeah.

David Weiden:
And I would check out five, eight books every Friday afternoon when it came. And I just tear into them, like fun stuff. Science fiction, westerns. But I never read any books with natives. And, I remember the first book that I think I read by a native author was Winter in the Blood by James Welch. And I'm, wait, it blew my mind. It sounds stupid now, but I didn't realize that native American people, we could write about our own experiences. I just didn't realize this as a kid. I don't remember how old I was, but that novel… I'm not sure I understood it all the time, but that novel really changed my life, Winter in the Blood.

David Weiden:
I have a first edition of it. When I got the deal for Winter Counts, I said, I'm going to treat myself. And I was able to get a first edition for a hundred bucks. And I said, I'm going to do it. So I bought it and it's really one of my prize possessions. But so some of the great writers, of course I love Louise Erdrich. She was kind enough to give me, what's called a blurb for the book as did Tommy. Stephen Graham Jones, who's a great writer. He gave me a blurb for this book.

David Weiden:
The native American writing community has really, really rallied around Winter Counts as has the crime fiction community. So, I'm just so, so, so thankful. But yeah, growing up, I would say James Welch, I loved science fiction. I loved all the classic science fiction writers. I loved this Western writer called Larry McMurtry. I loved his books.

David Weiden:
I didn't start reading serious literary fiction until college, but I love that stuff too. But for me, I love a good story. Something that makes me want to stay up all night and find out what happens, so.

Paul Gowder:
That's great. Yeah, going back to the representation matters, not only for me, representation really important, but it's the stories that are now getting told. I think Longmire did an okay job of kind of bringing to light some things that never was seen in a TV show. Themes of drugs on the reservation or crime and issues that were people are actually facing, not just here, the natives up on reservation kind of thing. And there's a PowWow and then you can have Rutherford Falls. I don't know if you've seen that show yet. [crosstalk 00:24:25].

Paul Gowder:
Yeah. And we're telling stories now that are authentic, true stories. So that's why I'm super excited that your book is getting all the buzz. It is because it's not just that we have native authors, native actors that are but we're telling real stories and as much as PowWows.com. We love a good powwow, but now, people are seeing us not just in our dance clothes, heading to the powwow circle. There's actual other things happening. So yeah. I'm excited to see the reaction as more people read this.

David Weiden:
Well, I just want to say that I absolutely love Rutherford Falls. I think and I saw the you add, I'm not sure she has those name is a Jayna or Janna.

Paul Gowder:
Yeah.

David Weiden:
Not too long ago. She and I have communicated a little bit over Twitter and such. She's hilarious. She's great. But the whole show, it has a… The writing room is native writers, is my understanding.

Paul Gowder:
Yes.

David Weiden:
The showrunner is native. The show is hilarious. It's so good. I almost burst into tears when I heard that had been picked up for a second season. It is such a good, hilarious show. I can now announce that Winter Counts has been optioned for film, but there's a big difference. Yeah. Yeah. There's a big difference between an option and it actually being made. So a very well-known film production company, they are in talks with a quite well-known native director to possibly turn it into a film, no news yet, but I would be thrilled of course, if that happened because I would love to see Virgil Wounded Horses story on the big screen. But, lots of things can happen. This is quite a ways away.

Paul Gowder:
Yeah, that's great. And so going back to what you talked about in the beginning. You're a college professor and you do some creative writing, teaching, and workshops and things. So for the folks out there, the inspired writers, I always like to ask people, what's your advice for people, whether wanting to be an actor or a writer or whatever, what is it? How can people get started? And what's the best way to really start honing your craft?

David Weiden:
That's a fantastic question, Paul. So anybody that's watching or listening to this, I just want to repeat what I said earlier. We all have stories to tell, and I think it's so important for native people to tell our stories. So Winter Counts is the story of the Sicangu Lakota people, but there are nearly 600 native nations here in America, and I want to see hundreds of native American crime writers. I want to read many, many crime novels and science fiction novels and romance novels, and literary fiction and memoirs. I want to read these stories.

David Weiden:
Now what's the best way to get started? Read, read, read, okay? Read, read, read. Read my book if you want, but if you don't want to do that, that's fine. Check out my friend, Brandon Hobson. His book is called The Removed. It's fantastic. Check out Tommy Orange. Check out Stephen Graham Jones, who writes in horror. He writes indigenous horror. He writes science fiction. He writes it all. And this was just announced two days ago, there's a brand new collection of short stories called Never Whistle At Night, Tommy Orange, Rebecca Roanhorse, myself, and about 10 other, I suppose, the best most well-known writers in the native tradition, native writers are coming together and it will be a collection of dark, short stories. Horror, gritty crime, dark fantasy. And so this is coming out in about a year and this is going to get a big push. It was just announced, Cherie Dimaline. Just all sorts of people are going to be contributing to this.

David Weiden:
So, read, read, read. They're out there now. It used to be tough to find native literature. I think it's getting easier and easier. After that, I started by going to my local writing center. So just go… Most cities or small towns have some sort of groups you can find now easily on the internet. Meet with other folks and just start writing and sharing your work.

David Weiden:
That I think is really the best way to get started. If you really want serious study, you can do a master of Fine Arts degree. I don't know that that's always necessary. Some of the best native writers out there don't have an MFA. Some do, some don't, but the best thing to do is just read and share your work with others and get feedback and be generous. Help them as well. So I think that's a great place to start.

Paul Gowder:
Cool. All right, so I have to ask it. I'm always curious to see what other people are rea [inaudible 00:28:59].We talked before we started recording, I'm a huge audible guy. I have a 30ish minute commute, so I love digesting books that way. So what's the best thing you've read here in the last year or two. Native or not, what's your favorite book? What's your [inaudible 00:29:14] lately.

David Weiden:
Oh, wow. So, let me give shout outs. So he's not native. One of my good friends in the crime fiction community is a gentleman named S.A. Cosby. He writes under that.

David Weiden:
His name is Sean Cosby. He has a wonderful book out called Razorblade Tears. It is fantastic. He is a black writer. I'm telling you this story is fantastic.

David Weiden:
I already mentioned Brandon Hobson, The Removed. It's a great story. He's a Cherokee citizen. You're going to love it. Stephen Graham Jones, the Only Good Indians. Man, that book will keep you up at night. That is just fantastic. There are just so many. Those are three.

David Weiden:
And I often get asked what is a good non-fiction book, Dave? If I get asked, especially from non-natives, they're what… I want to learn more about native issues, okay? But I don't want to read a textbook. Can you recommend a book to me that would be a good starting point? And I'm like, yes, I can, okay?

David Weiden:
My friend David Troyer wrote a book a couple of years ago called the Heartbeat of Wounded Knee. It was nominated for the National Book Award in Non-Fiction, which that's about as high and honor as you can get in literature. It didn't win, but that's okay. It was nominated, shortlisted. It is fantastic. It is a history of native peoples, but it's not dry. It's a page turner, which is rare in a history book. So if you feel you want to learn more, or you want to fill up some gaps in your knowledge, I can't recommend this book enough, the Heartbeat of Wounded Knee.

Paul Gowder:
Man, I'm have to put that one on my audible list too.

David Weiden:
Yeah.

Paul Gowder:
And just so… I'll say mine too. So I recently read Project Hail Mary, the followup book, or, I mean, it's not in the series, but it's the same author that did The Martian.

David Weiden:
Andy Weir?

Paul Gowder:
Yes. Oh man, the science fiction he puts out is crazy. This one, it has the same level of science and suspense as the Martian did, but in a totally different way. So yeah, love. Can sit in here and talk about books all day.

Paul Gowder:
And so I did see something on your website. I want to ask you and put this out there, you do connect with book clubs and talk with book clubs. So if there are some folks out there listening, tell us a little bit about some of the opportunities they could have with you?

David Weiden:
Yeah, I love speaking with book clubs. In the 10 months that Winter Counts has been released, I've done virtual meetings with probably three dozen book clubs. I don't charge any money, you know, typically. I just like spreading the word. So I'm happy to speak with book clubs, and I've had some wonderful, wonderful discussions.

David Weiden:
I've talked to people from Miami, Florida to Portland, to Chicago and all sorts of different groups of people. And there's something called a Well-Read Native or native American Reading Club. I had a wonderful discussion with them. A hundred native folks, that's on the web. I think I've gotten the name wrong, but if you Google native American reading clubs, something like that, you'll get it. They're fantastic. I was our first guest ever.

David Weiden:
I love book clubs. So please, yeah, if you have an interest, on my website, is Davidweiden.com. D-A-V-I-D, W-E-I-D-E-N. And, my contact info is there. And then I think I'm not supposed to announce this, but I'm going to just as a favor to native listeners and readers, but I know money is tight out there.

David Weiden:
Amazon, if you read eBooks, is going to run a special on Winter Counts. For a dollar 99, $2 dollars on August 11th, one day only, the Kindle daily deal. I'm not sure if I was supposed to announce that, but look, my interest is getting the book out there so that people can read it and enjoy it. And if money's tight, I think you can avoid… You can hopefully afford a couple of bucks and avoid those hard cover charges. It is out in paperback right now if you'd like the hardcover. If you'd like the soft cover physical hard copy, but August 11th, the Kindle daily deal. And I am happy to speak with book clubs.

Paul Gowder:
Oh, that's awesome. We'll make sure we put that out in our newsletter too. That's really cool that they're going to do that for you. That'd be great to get it in the hands of lot of people. That's awesome.

David Weiden:
Well, thank you so much for talking with us. I'm excited. I told you before I'm finishing a book I'm listening to right now, I got 15 minutes left. Almost didn't get out of the car today on the way home because of right there at that point where, yeah, but wife and daughter waiting for me inside. So I had to come in, but I might be sitting in the parking lot of work a little bit extra tomorrow if I don't get through it. But again, thank you for being here. I'm really excited for the book and good luck on the awards and I can't wait to hopefully see it in film.

Paul Gowder:
Well, thank you, Paul and everybody listening and watching, thank you. Thank you everyone for supporting this book and thank you for supporting native artists. Thank you all.

Paul Gowder:
Thank you.

Paul Gowder:
Hope you enjoyed that interview with David. If you want to get the book, don't forget to head on over to wwww.Powwows.com/wintercounts.

Paul Gowder:
All right. So I promised you a bonus code for the Pendleton blanket giveaway. Don't forget to go over to www.powwows.com/25 to enter that contest. And your bonus code for this week is 6-7-8-7-6-7-8-7. That will get you a special 25 bonus entries into the contest. So head on over to www.powwows.com/25 for those entries.

Paul Gowder:
Want to also say a special thank you to our patrons, those people over at PowWownation.com. They are helping us build PowWows.com for the next 25 years. We've got some projects that we want to do here in the last couple of years because of our patreons and our supportive of all of you out there. We've been able to do some really cool things.

Paul Gowder:
We've hired an editor. We've hired more writers. So if you've noticed, maybe, you've seen it. We've got more content coming out on the blog. With COVID starting to wind down, kind of, in some places, we want to get our team back out there doing webcasts. So we're trying to get to even more PowWows in 2021 and especially 2022 and bring those live streams to you.

Paul Gowder:
And here's where you can help. If you head on over to www.PowWownation.com, you can join our community there on Patreon and help support us. It's as little as $2 dollars a month. And trust me, it goes a long way to really helping powwows.com. Then we're not dependent on advertising and all these other things that can fluctuate a lot, depending on what's going on. We would love your support and your help because we are trying to… I cannot wait to see what the next 25 years are going to be and we're trying so hard to make sure we are doing some incredible things for you out there. So I'd really appreciate your support.

Paul Gowder:
Again, I'm Paul Gowder and I am the host of this podcast and the founder of PowWows.com. Thank you so much for listening to the podcast. Be sure to subscribe and don't forget to go and check out our newsletter, subscribe over there on www.PowWows.com. That is the best way to find out what's going on. Whether it's calendar updates or announcements, where we're going to be live streaming, our discounts to our shop and our new t-shirts and all of this stuff going on the best place to find out is the newsletter. That will be sent to your email box a couple of times a week, and you'll find out all about that. So be sure to subscribe to our newsletter. We'd really appreciate that, but I hope you and your family are having a safe and wonderful week, and I will see you next Tuesday here on the PowWow Life Podcast.

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Home » Native American Articles » Native American Culture » Read ‘Winter Counts' — A Lakota Thriller


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Running Doe

osiyo for sharing love the beat of the drums helps heal earth mother, and the singing, wado for sharing,

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