By Adrian Jawort
“When the first white people came out into the plains and started trading with them, they called them ‘the business men of the Plains.’ I thought that was so interesting because at the same time they’re very spiritual people.”
They called peace conferences on their own long before the whites did, because war was bad for their trade. The Arapahos were also skilled linguists who learned other tribe’s languages when other tribes just used the universal Plains sign language. One trader remarked that Chief Left Hand was more well-spoken at English than many people who lived back east.
Since the Arapahos were deeply involved with the history of the Plains Indians from the intertribal warfare days to being participants in the Battle of the Little Bighorn to being in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, it provided a plethora of potential historical storylines.
“There are so many fun and interesting things that happened in the Plains that they were involved in, and I love history, so I can write about that and work it into a story,” Coel said.
The recent work “The Silent Spirit” details how Arapaho and Shoshone Indians from Wind River would work in Hollywood during the 1920s in silent films.
Coel said the Arapahos have mostly been very receptive and proud that their tribe is being represented in her books.
“From what I’m told--and I love this--the game they play up there all the time is they decide on who the characters really are,” Coel said.
During the October Fourth Annual High Plains Book Awards in Billings, Mont., the New York Times best-selling Coel was honored and won the Emeritus Award for her Wind River Reservation Mystery Series.