I’m proud to announce that The Way of the Eagle: An Early California Journey of Awakening was named a Medal-Winning Finalist in the Novella category of the 2012 Next Generation Indie Book Awards.
The competition is the largest not-for-profit awards program for independent publishers and is presented by Independent Book Publishing Professionals Group (www.IBPPG.com) in cooperation with the Allen O’Shea Literary Agency.
The 2012 Next Generation Indie Book Awards is the second national award for The Way of the Eagle. In November 2011 the book was honored as a Finalist in USA Book News’s “Best Books 2011,” Visionary Fiction category. The Way of the Eagle has also been nominated for a 2012 Global Ebook Award.
The original peoples of the entire Los Angeles area, from the San Fernando Valley on the north to Orange County on the south, were a culturally rich tribe called the Gabrielino-Tongva (after their close association with the San Gabriel Mission during the Spanish Mission Era), or simply the Tongva, which means “People of the Earth” Their indigenous Southern California heritage outstrips the Spanish period by thousands of years, as it has been their homeland for at least 2500 years, and some sources say 5000.
Various Tongva tribal groups have organized and been recognized by local governments. More than 300 enrolled members of the Gabrielino-Tongva San Gabriel Band of Mission Indians, and an estimated 2,000 or more descendants of the tribe, live throughout the Los Angeles-Orange County area. Individual bands of the Tongva have different names, such as the Fernandeño, and the Tataviam Band of Mission Indians.
Relatively few people are aware of this tribe because they were nearly exterminated in the period between the Spanish Mission Era and the nineteenth century. It was so close, in fact, and their numbers and culture were so decimated by missionization, disease and persecution, that some historians mistakenly believed they were extinct.
While there is no tribally owned land or reservation and the Tongva Nation has yet to be federally recognized, the tribe still exists and its families do work to preserve and restore their culture and important sites. An interesting place to visit is the Rancho Los Encinos Adobe. Stepping onto its grounds is like stepping back several centuries in time. It is not a Tongva village, but the buildings and artifacts show what the site looked like in the Spanish mission era. Its website states:
“The site that is now known as Los Encinos was a “rancheria” (the Spanish term for an Indian village) of the tribe now called “Fernandeño”, “Gabrielino” or “Tongva,” for several thousand years. In 1797, when the San Fernando Mission was completed, the site was largely evacuated” (Los Encinos State Historic Park website).
D.E. Lamont’s book, The Way of the Eagle: An Early California Journey of Awakening, is set in the pre-1542 San Fernando Valley – that is to say, before any Europeans or Spanish explorers arrived and the indigenous inhabitants’ culture was still undisturbed. A historical fantasy, the book portrays a young Tongva brave’s misadventures in surviving the baffling and dangerous tasks assigned him by his mysterious spiritual mentor. Through these adventures and encounters, he gradually comes to know his own capabilities and spiritual identity.
While the story is a historical fantasy with much of the action from the author’s imagination, the settings as well as tools and implements of daily existence in this early period give readers the feel for what life for the Tongva in pre-European Southern California could have been like.
Reviews have been very complimentary. Kirkus, which selected the book as a Weekly Pick, wrote in its review:
“There is hardly a word out of place … what is most commendable is the precision and unpretentiousness of the prose while still managing to invoke the intense quality of Tacu’s visionary quest and moving nature of his movement.”
Earlier in 2012, a judge in the 19th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards, commented:
“I found this ‘journey’ easy to follow, easy to enter into with Tacu, easy to rejoice, hurt, and cry with him on his path to maturity. … This book is nearly flawless and I found few areas, if any, that I could comment on in the area of improvements. It was very inspirational.”
The author, D.E. Lamont, was raised in several different towns in the booming San Fernando Valley during the 50s and 60s, including Encino, but was never taught that Native Americans had lived there originally. When she and her brothers found arrowheads, an ancient cave, and the vestiges of a native village site in the wild chaparral-covered hills and canyons surrounding the Valley, she wasn’t sure if these artifacts were real indications of original Native American inhabitants.
Later, as an adult, Ms. Lamont felt that it was ironic that thousands of years before the Hollywood film colony took root, a creative, resourceful and fun-loving people lived a rich, bountiful life in the same location.
The Way of the Eagle is available in quality softcover at Amazon.com, in illustrated ebook format at Smashwords.com and in the Kindle store at Amazon.com. The book contains five beautiful original black and white illustrations by J.H. Soeder, a California artist and environmentalist.