Posts Tagged ‘Research’

Apache Reservation Visit

Sunday, April 24th, 2016
Sculpture of an Apache Warrior greets visitors to the San Carlos tribe's casino

Sculpture of an Apache Warrior greets visitors to the San Carlos tribe’s casino called Apache Gold

I drove up from the south with a brief detour through the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation, but don’t worry, I didn’t lose my shirt at Apache Gold, the tribe’s casino.

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The view from the lower cliff dwellings once home to the Salado Indians around 1300 AD

This photo was taken from the Lower Cliff Ruin in the Tonto National Forest.  Beyond the Saguaro cactus you can see the turquoise water of Roosevelt Lake.  We hiked up to the top and I had an idea that I’ll be using in the second book in my upcoming Apache Protectors: Tribal Thunder series.

Trading post outside on of the reservations

Trading post outside on of the reservation in the city of Globe

In Globe, AZ there is a really terrific trading post & store that features many native art and jewelry and the raw material for making camp dresses and regalia, which can be purchased on time.

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Author Jenna Kernan at the border between the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation and the White Mountain Apache Indian reservation

Just inside the reservation I met two Apache women selling jewelry. I purchased a pair of peridot earrings because I know that San Carlos Reservation as some of the finest peridot in the world.  They asked were we were from and I told them from New York.  As we were leaving I heard one woman say to the other, “Why would anyone come all the way from New York to see this?”  Funny world, isn’t it?

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Inside the White Mountain Apache Indian Reservation

Certain parts of the reservation are open to the public.  You can even rent your own lake or hire a guide for some hunting.  We visited the museum, Kinishba ruins and bummed around.  The ruins are spectacular and had me wondering about the people who once lived there.

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Salt River in the White Mountains of Arizona

The drive up to the White Mountain Apache Indian Reservation was full of hairpin turns and steep grades.  The Salt River gorge is spectacular.

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General George Cook’s Headquarters now a museum and historic site.

General George Cook lead Apache scouts in the Apache Wars in a series of bloody conflicts.  Many recognize Apache Warriors by their iconic red headbands.  Why did they wear them.  Some say they were order to wear them others say they chose to wear them.  Either way they were chosen to distinguish them from unfriendly Native Americans.

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Kinishba Ruins on White Mountain

We parked our car and walked in.  We were the only humans here but we did meet a few free range cows.   Maybe I should call Clay Cosin to come round them up!

The ruins are extensive with many rooms, windows and floor structures still in place.  It was hard to imagine three floors, but that was apparently what was once here.

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Tribal Police Headquarters on White Mountain Apache Indian Reservation

My imagination ran wild at seeing the tribal police SUVs that I had only seen before in photos and YouTube videos.  I kept wanting to go up and ask someone if I could speak to Tribal Police Chief Gabe Cosen.  We only spent a day in San Carlos and White Mountain Indian Reservations.  But the trip really helped me feel and smell and experience a place that until that day, I had only ever imagined.  I’m taking that frybread off on my taxes!

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Pinyon and Ponderosa Pines are everywhere in the White Mountains of Arizona and the snow is still on the mountain in February.

Running Wolf – Coup Feathers

Sunday, April 26th, 2015
Coup feathers drawn by Jenna Kernan

Coup feathers drawn by Jenna Kernan

Coup feathers are a very important component of my July 2015 release, Running Wolf.  These decorative feathers carried great meaning to the wearer and all who saw him.  These feathers were worn tied in the hair, affixed to shields, lances and horse’s manes.  When enough feathers were collected, they might be sewn into a war bonnet, sometimes with a now iconic train of feathers.  Most feathers were from an eagle, though hawk and gull feathers might also be worn.

The actual meaning was derived by how they were worn, how they were cut and how they were marked.  The meaning of these variances varied from tribe to tribe, so the following list is a general accounting as recorded in the book, The Mystic Warriors of the Plains by Thomas E. Mails, 1972.

First Coup Feather – is worn straight up (Omaha)

Second Coup Feather – is worn horizontally to the side (Omaha)

Second Coup Feather – is worn upright and marked with one red bar (Sioux)

Third Coup Feather – is worn upright and marked with two red bars (Sioux)

Fourth Coup Feather – is worn upright and feather has a serrated edge (Sioux)

Fifth Coup Feather – is worn upright and the sides of the feather are removed leaving only the tip intact

Wounding a Man – Feather is dyed red

Wounding a Warrior who had killed an enemy – feather decorated with bands of quillwork

Split Feather – Indicates the warrior sustained many wounds

Black Feather torn down the middle – given to successful scouts

Diagonally Cut Feather – indicated a warrior either cut the enemies throat or took his scalp.

For more on Coup Feathers, visit by STORY BEHIND THE STORY page at

Where do all those coup feathers come from?

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

Not eagles, but osprey, a sea hawk nesting on a man-made platform.



I’m working on a Western historical and as I was researching the various types of coup feathers, I found an entry on the process of catching the eagles.  Eagles are too clever to be caught with a snare or a bow.  Their capture requires more craft.

The process is fascinating.  There is elaborate ritual for cleansing and sacred rituals preformed before the hunt.  Then there is preparation for the trap which is a pit dug with only a knife.  The dirt must be carried away or you tip off the eagle to your intentions.  The pit is only deep enough for one warrior to lie on his back.  This image makes me think of lying in one’s grave and seems an act of bravery already.  Once the pit is ready, an assistant helps arrange the clever concealment of logs, dirt, moss and grasses.  Then the bait is laid using a flayed rabbit or perhaps the neck of a buffalo.  The warrior then waits.  When the eagle lands, the hunter reaches up from beneath the bird and grabs both legs.  Then he pulls it into the pit where the bird’s neck is quickly twisted. 

Can you imagine grabbing a struggling eagle without running afoul of its powerful beak and.  They should give a coup feather just for catching the bird. 

So that answers my question.  But I wouldn’t try this as it is illegal to catch or kill any bird of prey unless you are a Native American. 

Research: Veteran’s Day & the US Marine Corp

Sunday, November 11th, 2012

US Marine Corp is featured in my next paranormal romance for Harlequin Nocturne

This is only the second time that I have used a specialist to help me in my research.  In both cases I just knew that without the experience of someone who had been there I would screw something up.  My first expert was a man who researches grizzly bears.  He helped me tremendously in getting my facts straight for my Nocturne series, THE TRACKERS, and answering the questions that you can’t find anywhere else.

Now I have a Marine, a Leatherneck, a Jar Head, a Devil Dog.  Because the story I am currently writing for Harlequin Nocturne features a Marine Werewolf.  This retired Marine has made sure that my hero has chosen the correct personal side arm (a Magnum .45) and been patient with questions such as, “Do Sergeant’s ever lead a Fire Team?  And “Does ‘Rear Echelon” mean the commanders who are not in the fight?”  I also now know that a Sergeant is not a ‘junior officer’.  It is tough when your ignorance is showing but better for him to clean that up than for my readers to slap their head while reading my story and then throw my book across the room.  I’ve also picked up some very colorful slang.

My Marine even sent me a YouTube video on how to enter a room.  Very scary stuff.  But he wasn’t afraid of the really scary questions like “what color is a Marine’s underwear?

Answer:  It depends on where you are and what you are doing.  They could be tan, olive or white.

As I said, you want to get this research right!