I’m so happy to reveal the cover for my debut novel THIRTY EIGHT which I am writing with my daughter Deanna Milda. The design was created by Winyan Press illustrator Alex Marin based on a description I gave him. One thing that Deanna and I both wanted was the horse to represent her horse, Eagle Bear. We also wanted the depiction of the 38 warriors who died for their people to be represented as well. We are both so very happy with what Alex did!
The idea for this book came to me during the 2014 Dakota 38 Ride. Deanna was able to jump on at Flandreau and rode alongside her father. I was so very proud of her for doing it. I wasn’t able to follow along as I had to work. Each night of the ride I prayed for the riders and that Deanna was doing well. Slowly a story started forming in my mind. I saw a girl, older than Deanna riding a beautiful black and white paint along a gravel road, snow on the ground and tears in her eyes. She seemed so sad. Then on another night I dreamed of the same girl and this time she was sitting in a gym, watching people dance. She then got up and stepped outside where she saw a man standing there. Then I dreamed again of the same girl except she was one of many riders in a circle and the ghosts of the 38 warriors were standing before her. It was such a powerful dream I knew I had to write it. When I spoke with my daughter about it (months after the ride) she asked if she could write it with me. So this is the fruit of our labor. We are almost done with the book and will be releasing it on December 10th to coincide with the start of the ride.
The debut novel by Tawa Witko and Deanna Milda
Viviana lived a quiet life in the city, studying and doing everything possible to ensure she was accepted into a good college. She never thought much about who she was or where she came from but all of that will change when her father dies in the line of duty and she is asked to do something she never thought imaginable, participate in the annual Dakota 38+2 Ride. It was something that absolutely terrified her but with the encouragement of her uncle and the guidance of her new friend, Dre, she will discover something within her she never knew existed. She will learn that culture and tradition live within one’s heart and cannot be easily forgotten. Our spirit remembers our ancestors and beckons us to them, even if we are reluctant to go. Thirty Eight is a story of acceptance and love while finding one’s way back home.
It’s important for Deanna and I to help the ongoing efforts of the ride and as such would like to announce that all royalties earned on this book will be donated to the Annual Dakota 38 Ride which is always in need of donations to help with food, for both humans and the horses, as well as for shelter and gas. If the book does well, Deanna and I would like to set up a scholarship for riders (past and present) who might need some help but for now that is just a wish of mine.
- Thirty Eight will be available on paperback and ebook on DECEMBER 10, 2015
- The paperback version of Thirty Eight will be available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble Online. It will also be available as an eBook on Kindle, Nook, iBooks, Google Play and a whole slew of other eBook retailers.
- The pre-order for Thirty Eight will be listed towards the end of October which is when my final revisions are due.
- I’m trying to set up some time during the ride to do a few book signings but nothing is set as of yet. If you have the capacity to arrange for a signing in the South Dakota and Minnesota area during the ride, please let me know.
- If anyone would like Deanna and I to come and talk about the book once it’s out please send me a message and we can see about arranging that.
- Once again ALL royalties earned on this book will be donated to the Annual Dakota 38+2 Ride. Deanna and I are not making any profit off of the ride whatsoever. We wrote this to educate and to support the efforts of the Dakota 38 Riders.
Below you will find some information about the Dakota 38 Ride which I got from the Smooth Feather website along with the excellent documentary that they made about it.
In the spring of 2005, Jim Miller, a Native spiritual leader and Vietnam veteran, found himself in a dream riding on horseback across the great plains of South Dakota. Just before he awoke, he arrived at a riverbank in Minnesota and saw 38 of his Dakota ancestors hanged. At the time, Jim knew nothing of the largest mass execution in United States history, ordered by Abraham Lincoln on December 26, 1862. “When you have dreams, you know when they come from the creator… As any recovered alcoholic, I made believe that I didn’t get it. I tried to put it out of my mind, yet it’s one of those dreams that bothers you night and day.”
Now, four years later, embracing the message of the dream, Jim and a group of riders retrace the 330-mile route of his dream on horseback from Lower Brule, South Dakota to Mankato, Minnesota to arrive at the hanging site on the anniversary of the execution. “We can’t blame the wasichus anymore. We’re doing it to ourselves. We’re selling drugs. We’re killing our own people. That’s what this ride is about, is healing.” This is the story of their journey- the blizzards they endure, the Native and Non-Native communities that house and feed them along the way, and the dark history they are beginning to wipe away.
This film was created in line with Native healing practices. In honoring this ceremony, we are screening and distributing “Dakota 38″ as a gift rather than for sale. This film was inspired by one individual’s dream and is not promoting any organization or affiliated with any political or religious groups. It was simply created to encourage healing and reconciliation.