|James R. Olson's newest novel, Injun, is now available from your favorite bookstores
and this site! Click here for details
|Publication of Injun fulfills a 47 year old goal!
|Way back in 1963 while visiting a friend
in Tucson I discovered the archives in the
Arizona Pioneers Historical Society. Digging
through their extensive files of manuscripts,
I came across the copy of a military dispatch
from General Crook, commander of the department
of Arizona during the height of the Apache
wars. The report to the War Department detailed
a raid by a small band of hostile Apaches
coming into Arizona from their sanctuary
in the Mexican mountains. That dispatch inspired
me to do years of research, which led to
the writing of my first published novel,
Ulzana. Prior to reading that dispatch and becoming
enmeshed in research, I had known
about the Apaches. I suspect
and prejudices had been limited
I had learned from growing up
on a diet of
Research opened my eyes to an entirely new
understanding of the Apaches. For example,
I learned the Apaches were a loose confederation
of several tribal groups that were relatively
autonomous and were known to history from
the areas where they lived and the territory
they controlled, such as the Chiricahua,
Mimbreños, Mescaleros, Tonto, Gila, Warm
Springs, etc. The most notorious of these
bands were known as the Chiricahua or the
Cochise Apaches. It was this tribal group
that drew the focus of my research, and I
quickly learned that one book would never
adequately detail the history of these people.
Here was a group of Indians that probably
never numbered more than 500 or 600 warriors,
yet had been resisting the European and American
invasion for nearly two hundred years. Just
as a comparison, there were probably more
than 5,000 Sioux and Cheyenne warriors at
the battle of the Little Big Horn. Dozens
of books would probably not cover the Apache's
entire story. However, I was convinced that
with three novels it would be possible to
at least provide a brief panorama of the
three major historical eras - the Spanish
missionary period, the American Indians wars,
and the final disposition of the Chiricahua
Apaches. Although it took 47 years to write
and publish those three novels I never doubted
that one day they would be completed. After
all, dreams have no expiration date.
There were three reasons I decided to write
the first novel about the American Indian
wars, between approximately 1840 and 1885.
First, there was a great deal of research
material available from this time period.
Secondly I thought my readers would be more
interested in an historical time they would
be familiar with from other books and a plethora
of Hollywood films. And finally the raid
I had read about in General Crook's dispatch
would provide a hook upon which I could hang
my story. Consequently, Ulzana, published in 1973, was written from the Apache's point of view
about the warrior who led that amazing raid.
My next project was to use my voluminous
research to write a novel about the Spanish
missionary period in Arizona. In the 1700s
the Spaniards had established strings of
missions from Mexico City throughout southern
California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.
Probably more through force of arms than
missionary zeal, the Spanish had Christianized
the majority of the natives in this vast
territory. The notable exception to this
Christianization was the Apaches. I felt
compelled to write a story about why this
one tribal confederation had rejected the
Spanish attempts to convert them. Because
I had done the majority of my research in
Arizona, and my first novel centered upon
the Chiricahua, I selected the mission of
San Jose de Tumacácori (the ruins of Tumacácori
can be visited south of Tucson) as the location
from which Dom Bernardo, the main character
in the novel, would begin his adventure among
the wild Apaches. Brother, the second novel in my trilogy of the Apaches,
was published in 2002.
At the conclusion of the Apache wars in 1886,
although the majority of the Chiricahua had
been living peacefully on a reservation.,
the entire tribe - four hundred and ninety-eight
men, women, and children - had been sent
to Florida as prisoners-of-war and held in
captivity for twenty-six years under the
jurisdiction of the War Department, first
in Florida, then in Alabama, and finally
at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Most people are not
aware of this unique treatment of the Chiricahua
Apaches. During the Indian wars individual
"bad" Indians from many different
tribes had been arrested and sentenced to
prison terms. However, the Chiricahua were
the only entire tribe that had been treated
as prisoners-of-war. While the adult Chiricahua
men and women were incarcerated in Florida,
many of the children were involuntarily separated
from their families and transported to the
Indian Industrial School at Carlisle, Pennsylvania
in an effort to civilize them.. I decided
to tell the unique story of the final disposition
of the Chiricahua Apaches from the viewpoint
of Matthew Binday, one of the children who
had been sent to the Carlisle school. Injun, published in 2010, the final of my three
novels about the Apaches, tells that story.
(As a brief aside, the cover of Injun is an oil painting I did several years ago
of Sam Binday, Matthew's father.)
After 47 years, I'm proud to have finally
fulfilled by goal of creating in broad brush
strokes the history of the Chiricahua Apaches
during their nearly two hundred year struggle
against the European and American invaders.
I hope many readers will profit from my research
and gain a new respect for these proud people.
You may read or listen to sample chapters
of my three Apache novels and all my other
novels on their individual pages, or in the Catalogue of my books.
Are You Taking Advantage Of Everything This
Site Has To Offer?
You may have noticed that I have moved my
catalogue of titles off of the home page.
I am getting so many novels published that
the home page was getting too cluttered looking.
The brief synopsis of each of my titles,
a thumbnail of the book itself, and links
to detailed descriptions can be found on
the catalogue page. Links at both at the top and bottom of the
In addition to information on every one of
my published books, you can download (or
read online), or listen to some of my short
stories. The art of short fiction is dying
because there is a very limited market. At
one time there were hundreds of magazines,
both pulp and slick that carried fiction.
Today very few publications have short fiction,
except perhaps for some speciality magazines.
Short fiction is great because it tells an
entire story in a few pages. Take advantage
of the opportunity to read some very good fiction - absolutely free.
Of course the Media Room is just what the name implies, an area for
media people to gather information.
any visitor might find things
such as press releases and a
(probably more information than
to know) biography.
And finally, there is a page where I list
some novels which were written by authors
I know. I think you might enjoy their writing.
With all the new titles published each year,
sometimes we lose track of some very good
writers who have published a few years ago.
You owe it to yourself to at least check
out the information on my other authors page.